Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Start to the End


I’ve entered the reflection period of my exchange. I’ve been here in Brazil for almost nine and a half months and it’s hard to keep myself from wondering if I’ve done exchange “right” or not. Throughout my exchange, I’ve talked with people from all over the world, whether they are here doing exchange in Brazil with me, or are doing exchange in countries such as Italy, Taiwan, Japan, etc. What I have realized is that there are countless variables involved with exchange and all of these variables make it impossible to do exchange “right”.  The way I see it, everyone has his or her own way of doing exchange “right”.

The situations that exchange students are placed in can be crazy different from one another. Some kids go on exchange being 15 years old, others with 19. Some go to school with kids years younger than them, some go to college. Some live in small communities in the jungle, and some live in giant metropolitan cities. Some live with millionaires, others with lower class families. These examples are on the extremes, but the life of every single exchange student is in there somewhere and no one’s life is the same.


Everyone has to be able to set their own goals. Some people may have some of the same goals, but I think it’s important to prioritize them according to your situation. It’s fairly obvious that everyone’s goal is to learn the language, but if you took Spanish all through high school and are doing exchange in a Spanish speaking country, your struggle to learn the language is going to a lot different from someone living in Japan. It’s just important to remember that everyone’s situation is different. Some strive to master the language, get perfect grades in school, write in their blogs every day, and save entire Amazonian villages. The rest of us just try to survive.

I’ve only got about two weeks left, which means my exchange is definitely coming to an end. People here keep asking my how I feel about returning and my return date. I tell them I am content with my situation. I am in sort of a pickle because I am so excited to arrive at the airport in Minneapolis and hug my family for the first time since August 4th 2012, but it is also going to be hard to leave what has been my life for the last ten months.

Over the next two weeks I will be finishing up at school, presenting for my Rotary club, and saying goodbye to everyone here. The 31st is coming up quick. 

Flying into Rio de Janeiro as the sun was coming up a couple weeks ago.

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