Julia in Brazil

I have now spent almost 2 months in Brazil and it has been very eventful and fun for me. I started school, participated in a few Rotary events, and joined a new volleyball team. 

I started school on February 26th and the first week went well. In the US students move around from class to class but for the main subjects in school, the teachers move rooms instead, so I am with the same kids most of the time which has made it a bit easier to make friends. I made some friends in my homeroom class and in my elective classes. Everyone has been super welcoming and very helpful. My Portuguese language skills are improving but I am not quite sure what is going on in most of my classes. At the moment, I am catching words and simple phrases but I am not able to piece everything together quite yet.

 I am in many regular classes like math, history, physics, biology, chemistry, and literature. Along with these classes I am also in Sociology, Art, Portuguese, and English. I also have classes that are part of what they call “Itinerary” Originally I wanted to be in the sports classes but there were not any open spots in those classes so I chose Cinema. My Cinema classes include script, photography, editing video and audio, and acting and directing. My Cinema classes are a lot of fun so far.

My favorite class is script because the teacher talks slow enough that I can halfway understand what he’s talking about! At the moment I am also in a Technical Course through my school which is the Gastronomy class. Two times a week I get to go to my school’s culinary school which is located in a neighboring town called Flores da Cunha. Me and my classmates get onto a bus which takes us to and from the school. This class is a lot of fun and I think I will learn a lot with this course. I know that it sounds like I have a lot of classes but I don’t have each class every day. A few days out of the week my school day starts at 8 am and ends at 12 while the other days I have school from 8 am to 5 pm. I am always very tired after school but what makes it easier is that I have friends at school.

At the end of the first week of school, classes ended early and there was a small carnival celebration. There was music, dancing, food, and even that colored powder stuff that you throw up into the air. By the end of the festival, I was covered in color and ready for a new change of clothes and a shower but it was worth it and I had lots of fun.

Recently I joined an actual club volleyball team. My team is made up of kids my age ranging from about 14-18. I may not understand Portuguese but I do understand volleyball. Even though I struggle to communicate with my teammates whenever we earn a point in the game we all speak the same language. We play a game every Saturday afternoon and we have practice a few times a week. This team is co-ed and on the court at all times you have to have 3 girls and 3 boys. My team is very welcoming, talented, and is even helping me learn Portuguese too. I am having so much fun on this team and joining them has been one of my best decisions while here in Brazil. 

Along with joining a volleyball team I also participated in a 5k race hosted by my Rotary district (District 4700.) I ran the race with Santiago (another inbound student in Brazil) The many hills, (practically mountains) were challenging and we had to run over them all twice but we pushed through and did not walk. We had a really good time and even got a participation medal along with water and fruit at the end. 

One other thing that I was able to experience that weekend was Festa da Uva (Festival of Grapes). Festa da Uva is a celebration in Caxias do Sul that is held every 2 years. It celebrates the harvest of grapes and the heritage of the south of Brazil. At the festival, there were of course free grapes upon entry and after that, you walk through big buildings where there are many vendors selling their products, food stands serving delicious Brazilian foods, and even an area where there are carnival rides and games. It reminded me a lot of the Illinois State Fair but with more grapes and different types of foods at the stands.

The last month has been very fun and I have enjoyed making friends, trying new foods, and being able to participate in many cool experiences. Exchange has been great so far and I hope that I will continue to learn all about Brazil and what it has to offer.

volleyball team Julia Julia and friends Julia and FriendJulia and FriendJulia Brazil