Just as many others have before me, I would like to apologize for the lack of frequent blog posts. My american laziness has finally kicked in again, and the urge take a nap instead of write a post or do anything else productive prevails almost every day. Speaking of habits, I have definitely abandoned some old habits and acquired some new ones. For example, I have overcome the yearn to check Facebook every night before I go to bed, I no longer leave dirty clothes all around the house, I am not constantly on my cell phone, I wear jeans every single day, I have coffee every morning with breakfast, and speak of breakfast, I eat breakfast every morning. One that will really stick out to my Mom is that I always keep my clothes extra, super, organized and put away. If you happen run into my Mom after reading this, she will tell you that this is definitely a new habit. I can still hear her voice saying "Make sure you put your clothes away in your closet Avery! I'm not going to wash them again just because you let them fall on the floor!" :) Love you Mom. Hopefully I'll bring this habit back with me! I can't think of any more new habits at the moment, but every once in a while, I'll realize I did something "Brazilian" without thinking about it, which reminds me of how I am constantly growing and learning about a new way of life.
Speaking of growing and learning, I just finished a fantastic book called The Happiness Project. This book tackles the abstract concept of how to make yourself and others happier, and how to "change your life without changing your life". Now don't worry, just because I really enjoyed a book about how someone changed their life and made themself happier, does not mean that I am depressed and having a terrible time here in Brazil. I really am enjoying my time here and I am learning so many new things about myself. The book allows for a lot of self-evaluation and really gave me an opportunity to take a full circle look at what my exchange has done for me so far, and how I can conduct myself to make it as successful as possible in the many months to come. During our orientation back in the US, Rotary used the phrase "the roller-coaster of emotions" to describe the change in emotions almost every exchange students experiences during their year abroad. Of course every year is different for all the different exchange students, but I am certain that everyone's year is filled with a wide range of emotions. I am confident that all the things I learned from this book are going to help me with my own "roller-coaster of emotions", making my difficult times easier and my amazing times even more enjoyable. I ABSOLUTELY recommend this book to everyone, especially all you other exchange students. Download it on your kindle, read it online, read it in French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, I dont care, but read it.
I mentioned in my last post that I would be traveling to Sao Paulo with my host mom and host sister, so here's the story.
Last Monday night at about 11pm we hopped on a double decker coach bus for an eight our bus ride to the capital of my state, Cuiaba. The seats reclined to an almost horizontal position and ended up being quite a bit more comfortable than the average airplane seat. The eight hour ride really wasn't too bad, considering I slept almost the entire time. I was kinda bummed that it was dark for the entire ride since I was hoping to get to see some of Mato Grosso's countryside, but I guess I'll just have to go on another trip soon so I can see it. Shoot, what a bummer. We arrived in Cuiaba at about 7am on Tuesday and waited for a while at the bus station until it was time to grab a taxi and head to the airport. We checked in and after a couple hours of waiting, boarded our plane to Sao Paulo. We arrived in Sao Paulo sometime during the afternoon on Tuesday and all took nap the second we got to our hotel. DEEP BREATH. Unfortunately this trip was a work trip and not a sightseeing trip. My host mom sells clothes from home. She travels to Sao Paulo about 6 or 7 times a year to buy clothes and then bring them back to Sinop and sell them for about twice as much as she bought them for. Clothes are a lot cheaper in Sao Paulo. The shopping frenzy began Wednesday morning at 3am (I guess that's when shopping time starts in Sao Paulo?) when we exited the hotel and headed to the Feira da Madrugada, which translates directly to "Fair of Dawn", which makes sense since we got their at about 3:30am while it was still dark and didn't get back to the hotel until about 9am. I won't go into too much because you are probably already bored, but essentially, for the next day and half, my host mom and host sister went absolutely nuts and did more shopping than I have ever seen anyone do in two days, I just tried to keep up. Keep in mind, they are shopping as part of their work, not just for fun. Fortunately, I was not shopping for work haha. I bought a good amount of stuff for myself including some jeans, a couple shirts, a backpack, some cologne, and some other little miscellaneous items. It's absolutely crazy how cheap everything is there! Anyways, after lugging seven huge sacks of clothes from the hotel, to the airport, to bus station and then back to the house during our voyage home, we were all exhausted! But it made for a very exciting adventure and provided for a lot of new experiences, so no regrets.
I received my first package here in Brazil last week. Thanks Mom! The package consisted of some new books, peanut butter MMMMMM, an american flag, my glasses I forgot at home (classic forgetful Avery), some M&Ms, and a special thanks to the Olstad family for sending along some frisbees. When Ultimate Frisbee become the national sport of Brazil, we will have you to thank!
October 5th marked two months in Brazil for me. At times it feels like it went by super quickly and sometimes it feels like it has 365 days instead of just 65. I have already learned so much about Brazilian culture and traditions, not to mention heaps and heaps about myself. Here are a couple things I have really enjoyed about Brazil and couple things I am especially missing from home. I could add more to both lists but here is a little taste.
Fav's in Brazil:
Everyone is always laughing
I really enjoying learning Portuguese
THE MEAT AND RICE
Riding on the back of my brothers motorcycle
My host family
How I have started reading again
Things I miss from home:
Not waking up at 5:30am
How easy it was to spend a day with my best friends
Using a comforter when sleeping
Today is my 19th Birthday which makes today a little special, especially since it is my first birthday away from home. My first birthday away from Dairy Queen ice cream cake and dinner of my choice cooked by the one and only Janine Nelson. Although I'm missing my family at home a little more than normal today, my host family here in Brazil held a surprise birthday party for me last night and has done an amazing job making this a birthday to remember. I got home from playing volleyball last night with my younger brother, and my host mother told us we needed to go to the market to grab some things for her to make dinner. When we arrived back home after our trip to the market, my entire extended host family, consisting of my host mom, 4 host siblings, 2 host brothers in law, my host brother's fiance, 2 host nieces and 2 host nephews, were all waiting for me. I was TOTALLY surprised. They had set up the computer and were skyping with my family back in Northfield, which was a special treat. "Happy Birthday" was sung to me in both Portuguese and English and I was was able to introduce my entire family here in Brazil to my entire family back in Northfield. It was really a special night and I really am thankful for all the work that everyone from both of my families put into making it such a experience for me. Not to mention the cake and all the delicious little finger food!
Ive got a bunch of pictures from my trip to Sao Paulo and the surprise birthday party last night. So check them out on Facebook or Flickr if your interested!
Until next post. Tchau.