(this is my first report for my sponsor rotary club and district about my first 2 weeks in Brazil)
Setting foot at the NAIA was actually a huge wake up call for me that i am actually about to embark on a journey that is completely unknown and far away from everything I am used to be which i call A DREAM. It’s scary thinking that I have now to make decisions all by myself, but at the same time, it excites me, for the wonderful adventures I am to make in the future, for sure.
My journey of a day and a half to Brazil was too painful for me to think. I couldn’t bare imagining what wrong might happen in the airports, how I might feel unwell during the travel, and how lost i will be in the places i will go, and thinking aside being left by my plane, but when I got there in the situation, I really didn’t expect the turn of events because they all went out well and smooth for me except for the language barrier and baggage problem I had at the Guarulhos Airport. But staying focused and keeping calm all the time was key to the successful travel I had. Thanks to the advice of many, because it did work. I met a lot of people along the way, and the ones i will treasure the most are the 5 Taiwanese Rotary Exchange Students that I met at the Hong Kong International Airport and became my travel companions until destination, Sao Paulo, talk about the Rotary blazer’s magic and luck too! They provided me with a much needed reassurances that i am not alone by purpose amongst strangers.
At one point, I couldn’t help myself not to feel worried and nervous at the thought of meeting my host family when landed, but the tiredness and discomfort for lack of proper sleep and a shower was overcome with great relief seeing in the flesh behind the photos and mails my host mother, Renata. The self-doubts all turned into calmness the moment i set foot at the Uberlandia Airport and into the reassuring smile and warm welcome of the first known person to take care of me in the hospitality of her home. Yet surprisingly, another unkown factor to hit me as a stranger in another land is the “winter” wind that blasted on my skin and down to my bones. Just as i got out from the airport, the chilly welcome alienated me as it caught me by panic in my “un-thermal wear”. Thankfully tho, i was checked in a hotel room to myself so i can unnerve me colds away, and since I arrived 1 in the morning and me and Renata wanting to take respite. After the short-but-enough-to-travel-again-rest, my first long roadtrip on Brazilian soil was awesome. The 3 hour drive to Araxa, my hometown for a whole year, is a wonderful experience in itself. I had lots to anticipate for having a glimpse of a different but interesting environment away from the country i lived in for the 18 years of my life. And when finally home sweet home at the apartment of my host family, my 2 siblings, Valentina and Arthur, greeted me like i’m one of their own. I could never ask for another little sister and a brother who is sad to say, will leave by the end of August as a RYE student to France, yet i am happy for him too that he may experience the same journey into the unknown that i am taking but in the long run will make him a better person as i am finding out for myself sooner than i expect. The initial awkwardness is a fleeting feeling as a genuine familial relationship became all at once a cozy work in progress with them. I’m just so grateful to belong in a community filled with a joyous and giving spirits. Brazil seems to overflow with a friendly atmosphere that feels like home away from home.
I was here for a week and a half already and everything is going from awesome to amazing. I get to take a tour of my beautiful city, had cinema, met the other inbounds and outbounds in Araxa, met my 3 other host families, ate lots of Brazilian foods (Filipino foods are still the best though!!), bonded with my host family, met lots of new people, and other overwhelming stuffs that enriched every minute of my stay here. I’m aware and reminding myself I still have to make some few minor adjustments to their culture, especially to their time since it is an eleven hour difference where i came from. I am just too ready and raring to go challenge myself further. There was a bit of a culture shock too because where i grew up, we are raised to be very conservative and soft-spoken in contrast to the Brazilian lifestyle of being straight forward and a bit loud, expressive and demonstrative people. But I am absolutely loving what i am discovering of my new environment here, they just make it easier for me to adjust faster because i don’t need to second guess how i should act or what to say. Everything falls into place even before i can entertain doubts and another culture shock attack.
This journey may be a completely unknown path for me to travel, but with such easy camaraderie and openness, i will definitely get to the destination where everything unknown to me will all be very familiar and feels like a second home. I may be lost sometimes, but there’s nothing to fear for Rotarians are always there to help me achieve our goals! So again, thank you, District 3820 and my Rotary Club of Lucena Circle family, for the endless support and guidance you all are giving me. This journey is ours to embrace and learn from.