As you can tell from the Bon Jovi lyrics, I have made it passed the halfway point of my stay in São Paulo. So far, I have learned a lot about myself and other cultures, but more so about the person that I want to become. I’m dedicating this post to things that I’ve learned along this adventure and things that I would like to try before eu vou embora.
1. It’s ok to not be apart of the group. I don’t have a problem with the other kids in the group, but I just prefer to do things by myself. I hate speaking Portuguese to other Americans, I understand that it is good to practice, but they speak English. So, when I do things by myself, I am able to practice my Portuguese with Brazilians. Not to mention, Brazilians know when I am speaking incorrectly and can correct my mistakes. Also, when you are by yourself, you are naturally more vigilant to certain things. I have learned more about the culture of Brazil by just walking by myself and watching people interact.
2. Not every experience is going to be positive, but it is a learning experience so that is positive. I won’t pretend that I like the city of São Paulo. Every city has a rhythm and let’s just say we dance to different beats. However, even with my less positive experiences, I am learning about myself. I am so much stronger than I previously thought. I am also thankful for all of the experiences that São Paulo has given me so far because I think I can use what I’ve learned already to help other people. With that being said, São Paulo isn’t terrible, it has so much to offer and maybe the problem is I just haven’t found my niche yet.
3. Brazil and the United States are two different countries. This one seems like a given, but you’d be surprised when you go to a new country you start to look for the similarities. For example, Americans expect breakfast with eggs, bacon and toast. However, when you go to a country that doesn’t eat eggs, it can be hard to adjust. Or, college aged students in the United States are treated more like adults than students here. I like to look at it by thinking how appreciative I’ll be when I get back to the states. Even with the differences, humans everywhere very similar. Both my host mom and I said, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach,” at the same time. In Portuguese, of course.
4. Stereotypes are pointless. There is no one set Brazilian type. When Americans think about Brazil, they think it is synonymous with almost girls on the beach in thong bikinis. Some people, usually men, think they’ll see topless women as well. First, Brazilians wear those bikinis to get even tan lines and you will never see a woman walking around the beach topless. Brazilians tend to be more conservative than thought. Just like in the United States, each city has it’s own personality. A New Yorker and people from Alabama are both American, but they are completely different personality wise. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador are all completely different cities, but all are Brazilian.
6. It’s ok to miss home. I’m not the type to miss home or my family or friends, but this time away really put into perspective what a great support group I have at home. While I do miss them and I cannot wait to see them, I still have so much more to experience in Brazil. I have to focus on the now and less on the future because I’ll miss out on great opportunities living in the future. Plus, my idea of what is going to happen when I go home is probably more exciting than what I’m actually going to do.
So I’ve learned a lot, and I am still extremely thankful for the opportunities that I have been given. In the coming months, my goal is to spend the bare minimum with English speakers and maximize my time with Brazilians. Since my personality requires me to plan, I’ve had already sought out opportunities to maximize my time. Next Friday, I’ll be going building houses in the interior of São Paulo state. I was told 800 students registered, which is a perfect opportunity to meet people. I also plan to read more books in Portuguese because it is easier to see how sentences are formed when you read. The last three months seems like a long time, but I can tell it is going to go faster than the first three.