December 20, 2016
Compared to other programs, Global Citizen Year is rather strict when it comes to travelling. It only allows fellows to travel for fourteen days, which is clearly not enough time to see all the wonders of Brazil.
Even after I left Curitiba, my host family there has been asking me to visit. I really want to see them, but at the same time I am hesitant to use my precious independent travel days in a city I’ve already visited. In the end, I finally made up my mind and purchased my bus ticket to Curitiba.
I just came back from my 4-day, 3-night trip in Curitiba and words cannot express how happy I am for choosing Curitiba over other places. Even though I stayed in Curitiba for two weeks in the beginning of my gap year, everything looks different after 3 months. The streets don’t look as terrifying as before and the people not as intimidating. During my visit, I spent an extensive amount of time with my previous host family. As I spent more and more time in Brazil, I’ve stopped noticing how my language improves on a daily basis, but having a conversation with my host family whom I haven’t seen in 3 months definitely made me realize how far I’ve come. Even though I am still nowhere near being fluent, we can now have an actual conversation.
Up to this point, I’ve been so focused on my personal growth and have therefore failed to pay attention to other aspects of my gap year experience. Getting to reconnect with my previous host family makes me realize how making new connections is also a crucial part of this year. I’ve met so many nice people who genuinely care about me along the way.
December 5, 2016
Even though I often forgot that Florianopolis is an island, its drastic weather change never fails to remind me of that. Before I arrived in Florianopolis, I pictured Brazil as a sunshine country with no rain, but Florianopolis has successfully proven me wrong. Having lived here for almost three months now, I gradually got accustomed to bringing an umbrella with me wherever I go. I also got used to having mold on my clothes and three dogs that never dry.
Last weekend Florianopolis was hit by a very severe storm. Southern Florianopolis in particular was a wreckage after the storm. I live in the north of the island which suffered much less damage than the south, but we still lost power for over a day. On Sunday, my family woke up with no electricity which made me realize how dependent I and my family are on internet. The entire morning I was very fidgety because I was cut off from the rest of the world. I tried very hard to settle down and do something productive, but it was very hard. My host mom couldn’t stop complaining and my sister couldn’t study for her finals because the wifi wasn’t working.
To my surprise, what seemed to be a terrible day actually turned out to be a memorable experience. In the afternoon, after getting used to putting away my electronics, I was finally able to sit down, make myself a cup of tea and just read. My host mom also retreated back to her own room to do some writing. Later on, my host mom lit candles in order to cook dinner. Since candles were the only source of light, we all stayed in the kitchen while my mom cooked which doesn’t happen very often. Without electronics and background music, there was nothing to distract us from a heart-to-heart conversation.