Wow, yet another month has gone by in my journey through exchange. It seems as if it was just last week that I was writing my first journal entry. Life here in Viçosa has sped up a bit as I have accustomed even more into a daily and weekly routine. That means days are passing by even faster. Sometimes I have to stop and remember to enjoy every second and cherish every minute.
What has happened in the past month? Many things. The 2018 Brazilian elections occurred last week and a runoff will be happening within the next few weeks to determine once and for all the president. All around me I hear debates and political banter about the current climate in Brazil and may I say, Wow! What a time to be exchanging in Brazil. I have been able to learn new political terms, learn about foreign politics and even have deep discussions about how the country should be governed.
Another big thing that has happened recently was the state-wide Interact convention that I was lucky enough to attend along with a little over a dozen other exchange students from around the state. The convention was called EMIC and was in the city of Mario Campo, a few hours from my city Viçosa, just outside of Belo Horizonte (the state capitol). This four day convention was packed with dance parties, lectures, group activities and games. Each morning after breakfast we received a lecture from Rotarians and Rotaract members about the difference Interact club can make in a community and the world and how to better organize the club itself to be more productive. Each night we were able to dress up in themed costumes and just enjoy each other’s company.
The weekend was incredibly memorable for me as I was immediately able to click and become closer to many of the exchange students around the states. I was able to make a friend out of each and every one of them. On the other hand I was able to become even closer to many of the Brazilians. It just solidified my belief that Brazilians are the most receptive and excited people I’ve met. Each and every Brazilian I met was eager to hear my story, just as I was to hear theirs, and help with any Português doubts that I had. In just this one weekend I know that I made friendships that I can count on for the rest of my exchange and maybe even longer.
I think one of the most memorable events that happened was the color party. This entails that everyone dress in all white. Then neon colored powder packets are passed out to the crowd. Everyone counts down to one and throws up the powder into the air screaming and laughing. By the end everyone is covered in every color combination imaginable. For the rest of the night we danced and talked in the now far from white clothing.
It’s these types of memories that make exchange “vale a pena” (basically meaning “worth it”). It’s these types of memories that I cannot wait to write about in my diary, and it’s these kinds of memories that I will remember for the rest of my life.
I can’t wait to see what happens next on exchange and tell you guys. By the chance that any student thinking about joining exchange is reading this, I write this directly to you. Exchange changes your life. A year ago this time, I had no idea that I would be living halfway across the world. Exchange was only a dream; I never truly thought it was attainable. I made excuses that I don’t have time to stop my life in the US. Whatever the problem or doubt you have that may be impeding you from applying, just apply and see what happens. There are so many Rotarians, Rotex and people around you that you may not even know willing to help you get there. Because exchange doesn’t stop your life, it starts it.