by Leonardo Ruiz-Sanchez
It has been 2 months since I’ve landed in Brazil, but it feels like it was just yesterday that I was preparing myself for the ten-hour flight from Houston to São Paulo. I am finding it extremely difficult to accurately sum it all up. There have been many ups and some downs. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions: saudades, frustration, happiness, exhaustion, all packed into a small period of time. Constantly, there is something amazing happening. It could be anything from paddle boarding in the rain to the sun doing what it does and setting. It’s exhausting to always be aware of everything and I keep having to remind myself to write it down or else it’ll disappear from my mind. Saudades (longing for someone or something) come when a small thing reminds me of back home. Frustration, when I just learned a new Portuguese word but when the time comes for it to be useful forgetting it. We are not in Kansas anymore; we don’t live with our families or speak the common language. It is enough to change or begin to change one person’s perspective on anything.
Brazil doesn’t really wait for anyone. Like life, it constantly moves along. One problem with that is that I am quite indecisive. When confronted with a choice, I am the type of person that considers almost every pro and con. When there are two buses going to the same place, I struggle in deciding which one to take. Whether I should buy that coxinha or not and if so, cheese or meat? Even deciding what to write this blog about proved to be a tough decision. I do my research and I go back and forth so much that I become stuck in a state of neutrality. It seems like procrastination and sometimes it is but, either way, I waste time. I wait for someone or something to choose for me. So, I don’t blame myself if I choose wrong. Although this has always been a characteristic of mine, it really peaked during the college application season. As a first-generation person of color, top universities and colleges always seemed out of reach. It took me so long to decide to even attempt applying to Tufts. When I was accepted, I was shown that it’s okay to take risks and that it works out in the end. This sparked a new way of thinking for me, which only grew when I decided to apply to Tufts 1+4. Instead of going straight to college after high school, I took a bridge year, something I never even considered. Ever since then, I’ve been more and more open to trying new things by almost always just saying yes.
Global Citizen Year trainings, classes, apprenticeships, failed apprenticeships, there’s so much happening. All that combined with a language barrier has proven to be quite challenging. But in the midst of it all, something unexpected has happened. My indecisiveness has begun to wither away, albeit slowly. I’m gradually learning to stress less and less about this and that and if I did it right or not. Now, I simply just choose the closest bus to me and I always choose to buy that coxinha, because why not?
Oh yeah. I also decided to change my hair color.