It's been a while! I've now passed the 3 month mark here and that's terrifying to me. Being placed in such a cozy and small town, without much contact with any other foreigners or exchange students, has given me the chance to form really strong relationships with my friends and family here. Yesterday I was with a couple of my friends and one of them began talking about how she never thinks of me as any different from them. She said that the day before, it hit her that it's not a forever thing, that I won't be graduating and going to college with all of them, and that she couldn't sleep that night. The scariest thing is that I myself forget that I won't be living here forever, and I know that leaving will be the hardest thing I've ever done. As much as I miss so many things about home and so many people, everyday that I'm here I fall more and more in love with Brazil. Anyways, this isn't meant to be a sad post, and I still have PLENTY of time left here.
So what have I been up to lately?
September 12th to 14th I had a district conference/orientation in a city called Pirapozinho. Us 50 exchange students from all of the district as well as countless Rotarians, Rotex, future outbounds, District Governer, ect. stayed at a resort called Terra Parque for two nights. The orientation was decent.We had a few long lectures on rules and expectations, an introduction/opening ceremony, a few rotex-led games, information session on the trips available to us, a "Festa Junina" (will explain in a second), and lots and lots of free time. Luckily the resort had tons of delicious food and a big pool area so we kept ourselves pretty entertained. So, Festa Junina is a typical Brazilian party which is normally held in June (which is the height of winter in Brazil) where people dress "caipira" (basically the brazilian term for someone veryyyy country. Think redneck) and dance, eat, and have bonfires. The dancing is a lot like square dancing. Imagine 50 foreigners with iffy portuguese skills trying to square dance to instructions being shouted at them...hilarious. All in all the orientation was a good time because it gave me the chance to meet a lot of people from all over the world who also gave up everything they know for a year of adventure!
Another fun thing I've done is go to my first "balada", which is basically a combination of a concert/night club and are a big deal in Brazil. I'm really lucky because there is one of these right here in my town. Unlike most places at home, they don't have a balada every weekend, it's about once or twice a month. At first this didn't seem very economical to me, to have this nice building and only open one or two days a month. However, I have come to see the reason behind it. Because it's only an occasional thing, when there's going to be a balada EVERYONE goes. The week or so leading up to it everyone is talking about it, buying their tickets, planning their outfits, and getting excited. I realized how much better it is this way because instead of having mediocre crowds every
weekend they get a huge (and excited) crowd once or twice a month. The night of, the place opens around 10 pm (although most people go a bit later). First they have a DJ, then live music by someone famous (this is the main event), and then another DJ to end the night. It usually ends around 6am.
Recently I got to go to my first Brazilian rodeo. Two friends and I caught a ride with one of their uncles to the city next door where the rodeo was being held. A lot of what I saw was very similar to the fairs/rodeos I've been to in the US. There was lots of greasy and delicious food, carnival rides, expositions of various agricultural things, the actual rodeo, and finally to end the night was a concert of a famous "sertanejo" duo. The show was definitely the main attraction for most people, including my friends and I. Around 11 they opened the arena up and everyone rushed in to get close to the stage. It was packed because it was totally free! The show was really fun because I actually knew a few of the songs, and my friends tried to teach me to dance sertanejo. Another fun thing about brazilian rodeos is that EVERYONE goes in full cowboy/girl gear. All the guys were wearing button ups, jeans, belts, boots, and cowboy hats, and the girls mostly in jeans or jean skirts, tank tops or button ups, belts, boots, and bright red lipstick. Even though most of the people there
aren't really all that "country", it's so awesome how everyone gets so in the spirit of things here, and it definately magnifies the fun 100 fold.
All in all things have been going pretty smoothly here. My daily routine doesn't change much, but I am slowly learning how to be more independent and navigate the town by myself, which helps me to get out more and do more during the week. The weather has gotten a lot warmer lately as we are going into summer here, which gives my friends and I more to do such as swimming, going to drink juice (which is like a "thing" here), going to eat ice cream, or going to fish at my family's site out in the country.
So there's a quick update on some of the fun things I've been up to! Once again, I'll leave you with some photos!
Some cows and horses who just casually live in the middle of the city.
At the "Festa Junina"
At the rodeo!
One of the residents at the nursing home where I visit every two weeks with some classmates
All of the countries represented at the district conference!
Snapped this on my way to the gym one evening
My host mom and I at the family's farm
Baby birds and my friend's house
Other exchange students and I wearing our traditional "Festa Junina" clothes