Hello world it’s me, writing a personal blog for the first time in a long time. What am I up to? Currently I’m laying on the president’s lawn at Tufts enjoying the 80 degree weather (so long as I pretend our planet isn’t dying) with a new friend I made this semester. First semester here I saw a lot of people around campus that I wanted to be friends with but never reached out to so my social goal this semester was to approach everyone I had a “friend crush” on and try to befriend them. So far it’s worked out swimmingly. I used to approach situations from the standpoint of “Oh no… they’re too cool for me…” but I realized that’s ridiculous and if someone thought they were “too cool” for new friends then I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway. I’ve worked to surround myself with people I enjoy being around- people I want to make happy and people who want to make me happy, largely my 1+4 friends, because being emotionally content is just as important as doing well academically and I think I solidified that life outlook last year.
by Jordyn Voss
I spent a lot of the first semester of my senior year of high school trying to sound smart.
I mean, anyone applying to college is doing their best to play up every redeeming quality they have, especially when it comes to writing. Writing has always been one of my favorite subjects and I felt on top of the world when I was writing my college essays. I remember the day I started pretty well.
A close friend of mine and I decided to start together and to give each other honest creative advice. After about an hour of the occasional discussion thread and the clicking of laptop keys, we read each other our first drafts. A lot of that essay writing was a blur, but what she wrote would prove to have a lasting impact on me. Her prompt was something along the lines of “describe a relationship that is very important to you.” Though many people wrote about close friendships and family, she went off the beaten path. Her essay was about the the ocean.
This bridge year has made me appreciate the value of self-reflection and spending time alone. My high school was called a “pressure cooker” and no one had the time to slow down and think about anything. I had no direction and felt lost when I graduated from high school. Going to college without taking some time off seems unimaginable to me now because I would have no idea of what I truly want to get out from a college experience. During my time in Brazil, I have read 17 books on my kindle. I am gradually getting into the habit of reading, which wouldn’t have happened without taking a bridge year. I am not only surviving, I am thriving here. I’ve learned to be comfortable by myself. Every book I’ve read, from Americanah to 1984, has taught me something I wouldn’t have gotten out of if I wasn’t alone. Even though I am still not sure what I want to study, I can say confidently that I have more direction in life than ever before. Having alone time has enabled me to think back to my high school life. If you asked me a year ago what my favorite book was, I wouldn’t have had an answer because I was ambivalent about everything. But now, having reflected so much on every detail of my life, I’ve realized how I’ve always enjoyed explaining calculus concepts to friends; whenever I start my homework, I would start with mathematics because I tend to leave my least favorite things last. Before embarking on this journey, I regarded this year as merely something different, but I was wrong about it. It’s more than something different, it is life-changing.
– Dee, Tufts 1+4 Brazil fellow
by Sophia Carroll
I went last weekend to visit my host family in Curitiba, the city that I stayed in for two weeks when I first got to Brazil for In-Country Orientation. My family in Curitiba is a couple with no kids, and they are both doctors, (financially comfortable and extremely well-educated), and spoke English. I was very much in my comfort zone, living with the same language, socioeconomic status, and habits I was used to. I remember worrying when I was there that my experience wasn’t “Brazilian” enough or simply different enough from the life I had just come from in the US. Visiting them for the weekend was a nice little vacation back into my American life of speaking English and having a clothes dryer. Seeing my family and Curitiba again after four months also allowed me to compare the Sophia of September who had just arrived in Brazil, homesick and terrified, to the more confident, Portuguese-speaking Sophia of January.