About two weeks ago, I booked the one hour ATV "Ridge Runner Tour" for just under $70. There was a small non-refundable deposit due at the time of booking, which was under $20. The remainder of the bill was due on the day of the reservation.
The location is breathtaking. You're basically surrounded by nature's beauty. I can only imagine how much more amazing it would be to visit once the leaves change colors this autumn. After absorbing the scenic view and handling payment, I was introduced to the tour guide. The tour guide made everything simple in terms of how to operate the vehicle and answered all of my ridiculous questions.
Once you get on the ATV and start to get the hang of it, it's exhilarating. The trail is full of inclines and declines, which makes the experience feel like an adventurous thrill. Visit eXplore Brown County to explore their other activities like zip lining, paint ball, and mountain biking. My experience with the ATV Tour was so great that I can't wait to visit for a 1.5-2 hour tour or even try another activity.
The timing of this day trip couldn't have been more perfect because I'm at a huge turning point in my life for the better. As I steered the ATV to navigate my way around puddles and rivets, it dawned on me that my life mirrors this experience. I had to struggle my way through the uneven surfaces to understand how to go about avoiding them. The more I utilized the advice given by the tour guide, the more I began to operate the vehicle with ease. I know I have to learn to grow, but the unpopular truth is that I also have to fail to grow. This ATV tour reminded me that my lows have added just as much value, or even more value to my life, as my highs. Please never forget that the imperfection in your journey can also be your greatest lesson. Where you've fallen short can one day become your strength. I have grown confident that my guide in life is never steering me wrong no matter how rough the path may appear. I encourage you to align your path with a source that's unwavering, unchanging, and unconditional.
Until the next adventure, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
Sunflower trail at tuttle orchards
5717 N 300 W, Greenfield, IN 46140
Imagine walking through a field of sunflowers on a gorgeous sunny day. It's practically a glimpse into heaven, yet it's simply just a drive away in your local area. It only costs $5 per person for children and adults. You also get to take one sunflower of your choosing with you for free. Think of it as one of indy's most unique summer pastimes. Click here to see the remaining dates the trail is open for summer 2018. If you can't make it this year, I recommend liking their Facebook page to stay updated on when the trail will open next year.
tuttle orchards cafe & Farm STore
Once the allure of the sunflowers wear off and your body begins to grow tired from the sun's heat, stop by the cafe just across the street from the trail. It's nothing spectacular, but it's the perfect place (and only place) to grab an apple cider slush to cool off. Click here to check out the menu. There's also a farm store that carries local products. I love drinking ginger tea with lemon and honey, so I couldn't resist purchasing a jar of pure honey.
did somebody say photoshoot?!
For all my photogenic sweeties out there, this is an occasion that you can turn into a photoshoot. I was there for at least two hours of the day and the trail was never overwhelmingly busy. It's a slow-paced atmosphere that's relaxing and a great fit for a summer shoot. With this in mind, dress up! Put on your best summer slay and enjoy the trail with family, friends, or a photographer. There's also an adorable red barn towards the entrance of the trail that is the ultimate scenic backdrop.
The most impressive part about this trail is that it's truly an escape. The beauty of God's creation pulls you in and reminds you just how sweet life is. This is a space that will force you to be present and simply enjoy.*
All in all, stay beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
*If you're allergic to bee stings, I would NOT recommend participating in this activity. There are bees everywhere. They are thoroughly more interested in the flowers than you, but it's probably best to air on the side of caution and sit this one out.
1. Reasonable Travel Time
A flight from the midwestern part of the US to Belize City is approximately 6 hours, which is great for an international flight and geographically makes sense. My flight to Belize departed in the early morning. My first day on vacation was basically only an evening because I spent the whole day traveling. If I had to do it over again, I'd get an overnight flight so that I'd have a full first day to explore Belize. In other words, you can arrange your travel time so that you can maximize your first day of vacation.
2. Easy Communication
The national language in Belize is English. Many of the people I met also spoke Spanish and Creole with African influences. If you're from an English speaking country, then it's very easy to get around and communicate. Locals are very kind and willing to help. My first night in Belize, my friends and I went out to dinner and had no idea that by 10pm, all the water taxis back to the resort closed. As we were wandering through the town trying to figure out what we should do, we ran into a friendly face from the restaurant where we had dinner. Despite him being tired from a long day at work, he rode his bike alongside us to get us to other means of transportation. Ultimately, he didn't have to do that and I could chalk it up to him having great character, but we received that same kindness from other locals as well.
Are you a first time vacationer? Looking for some advice on how to approach your next vacation? Interested in travel? For these reasons, among many others, you should check out my first-hand tips and tricks on how to execute your dream vacation.
Keep a list of activities and excursions
It's important to keep a running list of all the activities and excursions you're interested in doing while on vacation. This is significant because it's easy to let time get away from you. By the time you realize that you haven't completed all that you had planned to do, it'll be too late and time to travel back home. My recommendation is to ask the representatives at the location where you're staying about every item on your list the first day you arrive. This way, if you need to sign-up for something a day in advance, it'll already be scheduled. If the price for something is expensive than expected, you can ditch that activity and replace it with something more affordable. If there's specific times in the day that the activity is available, then you can plan accordingly. The ultimate goal is to complete your list. Planning ahead is the best way to do this.
Base decisions on recommendations
Researching places to go? Ask around. Researching places to stay? Ask around. Researching things to do? Ask around. Moral of the story, ask people where they've been, how they enjoyed it, what they did, and what they would do differently. Even if someone hasn't been to where you're going, it's likely that they may know someone that has been there. For my trip to Belize, we chose Coco Beach Resort because one of my friend's classmates recommended it. We also went cave tubing and visited the Mayan Temples because my coworker's mother-in-law had lived there at one point. While recommendations are a great place to start, always make sure you do your research to make sure whatever advice you've been given meets your expectations.
Download the Venmo app
If you split costs with friends frequently, then you probably already have this app. If not, you'll want to get it because it transfers money immediately. You can create an account using Facebook and link it to either your bank account or a card. Not every payment can be split, so this app comes in handy when a single payment is ideal and the money needs to be collected either in advance or recoupped following the payment.
Call and ask questions
Once you decide where you're staying, I recommend that you contact the venue to get the following questions answered along with any other inquiries you may have.
Download your favorite tunes
I'm a huge Apple Music advocate. Regardless of what music streaming app you use, I recommend downloading the songs/albums you know you'll want to hear over and over again throughout your vacation. Then you won't have to worry about having a wi-fi connection because all your favorite tunes will be downloaded to your phone. This is an easy one to forget, so put it alongside your list of things to do while packing.
Avoid flight drama
While I prefer non-stop flights, one-stop flights are usually kinder on my budget. If you're in the same boat, I recommend booking your second flight's departure 3-4 after your first flight's arrival. This allows room for your first flight to get delayed without it impacting your second flight. This isn't a cure all, as it depends on the situation and if you can book a 3-4 hour layover based on the flight schedules, but it can prevent you from missing your next flight.
Another way to avoid flight drama is by booking flights to locations where you have family or friends, so that if you do miss your flight, you have options. If you're flying with a good airline, they'll likely offer you a place to stay. If not, you'll at least have options outside of sleeping at the airport. I've had to do that before and it is not fun. That's not how you want to start or end your vacation.
Beach + Phone = You need this!
JOTO Cell Phone Dry Bag Pouch
This was the best purchase I made prior to embarking on my vacation. It's a case that transforms your phone into an underwater camera. It's great for any situation where you want to take pictures but you need a waterproof case. I recommend this products because it's affordable, has thousands of product reviews on Amazon, and makes water activities even more fun.
To get more products details, click here.
Set Aside Spending Money
In order to make sure you're staying within your budget, I recommend setting aside your spending money far in advance from your trip. This way, you already know you're covered during your vacation and you can focus on your everyday life expenses. If you're going on a cruise or staying at an all-inclusive, then your spending money may be less focused on food and more on alcoholic beverages and/or excursions. The key to this is knowing what you want to do and how much it'll cost.
Pack to carry on
This comes into play when you're dealing with flights where your gate has changed multiple times, you're experiencing flight delays, or you've even taken the opportunity to get on an earlier flight. I recommend packing to carry-on. Typically, you can have one small personal bag and a small suitcase. This will keep you from arriving to your dream destination without luggage. Packing to carry-on is convenient for 4-6 day trips. If you're staying longer than a week or prefer to pack on the heavier side, I recommend packing at least one day of clothing in your personal carry-on bag so that if your luggage doesn't arrive to your destination on time, you're covered for at least one day. Your toiletries should also be in this bag, which means you'll have all the important items when you arrive.
If you're having difficulty packing on the lighter side, I recommend doing some joint packing. For example, if you need to bring hair gel, ask a friend if they're bringing theirs. You don't all need to bring the same things because you're staying together and you can share. This will save you some room in your luggage.
Choose your travel partners wisely
This is one of the most important suggestions on the list. When you're developing a travel group, be mindful of the personalities involved, past experiences you've had in similar situations, and make sure you're traveling with people that have the same vacation expectations as you. This will alleviate issues when you all are deciding exactly what you want to do while on vacation. Traveling with like-minded individuals creates a more relaxing and fulfilling experience.
Contact your Bank, if you're traveling internationally
Don't forget to contact your bank. Some banks allow you to notify them through their website or you may have to call. Either way, you'll want to do this if you plan to use your card. It's also good to have a back-up plan in case your card doesn't work even if you've notified your bank. When I was in Belize, I didn't have a back-up plan so I was a bit nervous the first time I used my card. It was a four day vacation and I knew there would be other ways for me to pay. For instance, I could have sent the money to a friend's card through Venmo. However, when I was in Brazil for 5 months, I made sure I had a debit and credit card as an electronic payment option. Essentially, do whatever gives you peace of mind. There's no reason to worry something that you can take care of beforehand.
These recommendations are based on my travel experience to Belize. As I begin to travel more frequently, abroad and within the US, I'll update this list through additional blog posts. I hope this helps refine your focus in terms of planning your dream vacation. I encourage you to save your hard earned money for experiences rather than things. Know that a short getaway is an investment in your mind, soul, and body. It is an investment in caring for yourself and maintaining your peace of mind. It's a way to reconnect with those that you love or even to blossom new, meaningful relationships. The right vacation, will put you at ease. BeYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul.
Sail on! -xo
The Brazilian saying, "cada macaco no seu galho [every monkey on its branch]” resonates strongly with my social life in Brazil. While São Paulo is a diverse city, it's clear that certain groups of people belong in specific areas and not others. For example, at my university, I can find plenty of people of color doing custodial work or serving food, but none in the classroom. At a bar, I can find people of color working as security or serving drinks, but close to none partying. It felt like living in a social bubble that didn’t even include me. We are all so much more than our skin and economic status, so there should never be a place in society in which certain groups of people are "out of place".
I realized this disparity most through my university, which ultimately made me question what was happening in the school system and how it had gotten to this point. Especially since education is one of my passions.
And so, the brief history lesson begins...
From 1964-1985, Brazil was a military dictatorship. This allowed middle-class Brazilians to receive quality education up through the post-secondary level. However, Brazil desired to grow economically, which could only be achieved by decreasing the illiteracy rate. This enabled the poor to receive education, but it also led to middle-class and upper-class families moving their children to private schools to maintain their high quality educational standards. Unfortunately, this caused the quality of public schools to plummet.
In Brazil, students have to pass the vestibular to attend the best universities, which are public. Typically, only students who have attended expensive private schools prior to college get admitted to public universities. In 2013, 63% of USP’s (University of São Paulo) freshmen came from private schools. In the top 5 fields, medicine, civil engineering, advertising and marketing, medical sciences, and international relations, it was 93%. USP is the best and most difficult university to gain admittance to in Brazil. For students that don’t pass the vestibular, they can attend either a highly expensive private school, which has areas of study that are competitive with USP, or a less costly private university that provides poor quality education.
In recent years, there has been a higher percentage of people of color, black and pardo, going to college, but not at the best universities or pursuing the top fields. Federal government programs have pushed for inclusion, but it has mostly been adopted by low cost private universities. In 2015, 78.7% of USP's freshmen were white, 2.4% black, 11.3% pardo, 0.2% indigenous and 7.5% asian. Moreover, only 1 black freshman sought a career within the top 5 fields, which was medical sciences.
Looking at the bigger picture, the percentage of Brazilians with a college degree went from 4.4% in 2000 to 7.9% in 2010, with most graduates coming from low cost private universities. While these percentages look very different in the US, either way, it’s clear that education is a form of exclusion that mostly benefits middle and upper-class families.
So what can be done about this? It's obviously not just a problem in Brazil, but also an issue in the US and other places around the world.
My solution is as simple as it gets. Go out in this world and fulfill your God-given purpose. I guarantee it won't align perfectly with society's standards, but it will align perfectly with the hearts of those that need to see people just like you achieving great things.
It's also clear that more needs to be done, but the best way to start is always with yourself. Just think: Do you only swing to and from the branches that are "for you" or are you being led by your purpose? Do you uphold the status quo or are you here to shake things up for the better?
And who knows, maybe where you "don't belong" is exactly where you're supposed to be.
That's a wrap!
Major thank you to Thomas Monteiro, a historian and PHD student at the University of Campinas in Brazil, for providing me with information on this topic. Your expertise is greatly appreciated!
For quite some time, I’ve been hesitant on writing on this topic. Mainly because I felt unqualified and like I had nothing to contribute, but this particular post on Facebook reminded me that this topic does matter.
Sadly, this is my last post regarding my studies and travel experiences in Brazil. Thank you for supporting my endeavors and I cannot wait to share my next project with you all. In the meantime, remember to keep life sweet and never stop feeding your soul. Tchau!
Overseas study programs offer a variety of living accommodations (university housing, apartment, homestay, etc.). This post is to help you decide if a homestay, which is simply living with a local family, is a good fit for you.
Depending on where you're studying, safety may or may not be a major concern, but safety is always relative. An area deemed safe is not safe in every situation and vice versa. Since I studied in Brazil, violence is a major issue due to inequality, so safety was very significant in my case. Therefore, it's important to know that when you live with a local family, you're less likely to encounter abuse, crime, etc. because the people you're staying with are looking out for you. If you live in an apartment with roommates, there's no local there to mitigate unfavorable situations and there's no rules in place to prevent these types of unfortunate events from occurring. Fortunately, if you live in a homestay, you're less at risk of experiencing life altering or life threatening situations in your living space.
On a more positive note, there are major benefits from living in a homestay. For example, my homestay offers two meals a day. This usually translates to breakfast and dinner being provided for me. I also don't have to do my laundry. There are some homestays that have a gym or a pool.
If I find that I don't mesh well with my host family or the location isn't convenient, I can request to live in another homestay that better suits my needs and expectations. In terms of budgeting, homestays are ideal because a certain amount of your program cost is already allocated toward living expenses, so you don't have to deal with paying rent or finding a subleaser if you decide to move. Ultimately, the flexibility that homestays offer is a plus.
3. Cultural Immersion
Living in a homestay will teach you everyday valuable communication skills and potentially the language of the region. Depending on your host family's openness, you'll feel like you have a family/home away from home.
1. Strictly Business
In some cases, host families are kind and make sure that you're enjoying your stay, but they're not interested in having a close relationship with you. This is not always a negative, depending on the situation, but it can create a communication barrier. You also may notice that certain things are off limits to you, but not to your host family. For example, you may feel a little excluded because your host provides you with food that's different from what they eat. Or maybe you have to ask your host in advance to wash your clothes, and there's a great possibility that you may be told to do it another day because they want to wash their clothes. This particular con can make you feel like you and your hosts are strangers to one another, or you may enjoy that your homestay is strictly a place to eat and sleep.
2. Restricted to you only
For my program, you're not allowed to have guests at your homestay unless your host approves. As a college student, this can be disappointing. You're used to freedom and doing what you want when you want in your own space. However, homestays limit this freedom. Since it's not technically your space, you're expected to keep your room fairly tidy, no alcohol consumption is allowed, and having guests over is likely to be a rare occasion. Typically, your homestay is a space for only you and not your friends or your significant other.
3. Am I getting my money's worth?
One of the best parts about studying abroad is that you can travel. I believe traveling is one of the aspects that makes the experience worthwhile. I usually traveled 1-2 times per month. Some people prefer to travel nearly every weekend. In this case, you're going to miss many meals that you've already paid to receive. Unfortunately, you're not likely to get that money back, so depending on how money conscious you are, this could be a major downfall of living in a homestay.
Sharing is Caring?
When you live in a homestay, you have to be prepared to be humble. Someone is opening their home to you. If you are discomforted by the rules and the lack of freedom, remember that they are just as discomforted from inviting a stranger into their household. Regardless of the relationship you develop with your host, I encourage you to remain open-minded because your living space is such a small portion of your study abroad experience.
Sometimes you just don't like the food your host cooks. Sometimes your host tidies up things that you already had the way you wanted them to be. Sometimes you just want to cook for yourself instead of someone always cooking for you. I could go on and on about preferences in lifestyle that matter to each of us, but the reality is that it's different for everyone and in the grand scheme of things it's an easy challenge to overcome. Not a fan of your host's cooking? Remind yourself that you should be grateful that you have food to eat on a daily basis. Is your host tidying up after you? Politely ask them to stop. Interested in using your host's kitchen on a regular basis? Again, just ask. These inconveniences will turn out to be minuscule in comparison to your overall experience.
in the end...
Living in a homestay has its advantages, disadvantages, and some unfavorable in-between areas, but it's sure to be an experience that will help you grow. The ultimate goal is to learn how to navigate unfamiliar situations and living in a homestay is a rewarding way to do so.
Thanks for reading! Até próxima vez, minhas pessoas lindas, keep life sweet and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
We think of body shaming as a form of bullying, gossip, or something that happens extrinsically through communication like the media. In my experience, someone calling me fat or chubby hurts my feelings a bit, but the insults that I’ve formulated to shame my own body are 10x worse.
Before living in Brazil, I never realized the crazy tactics I had taken to avoid wearing a swimsuit. The last time I was excited to go swimming, without the fear of what I would look like in a swimsuit, I was an adolescent. Once I reached my teenage years, I recall ditching opportunities to spend time with my friends because they wanted to go to the pool, showing up to parties “late” so that I could avoid pool activities, and the list goes on.
In September, my study abroad program took us on a trip to Paraty, a historic colonial town in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It was by far one of my best vacations, and it was jam-packed with beach activities. When we arrived to our first beach stop, everyone was ecstatic. All the ladies already had their swimsuits on underneath their clothes. Prior to the trip, I tried on my bikini and nearly broke into tears. I hated the way my body looked, so I left it behind.
When I voiced to my program director and chaperon that I didn’t have a swimsuit, thinking I had once again dodged that bullet, they told me there were vendors on the beach selling cheap bikinis. At that moment, I realized I had to get over my fear.
Luckily, I didn’t have to do it alone. One of the ladies in my business program was right by my side helping me pick out a bikini and she even found one for herself. Once we changed into our new swim gear, we hit the beach and no one body shamed me, not even myself.
In Brazil, there's not one body type that you won’t see wearing a bikini on the beach. It’s not just limited to women, speedos are very common as well. And there’s no age limits on who should wear what. It’s such a different experience than what I’m accustomed to in the US. In the city of São Paulo, I see women of all different body types wear whatever they want on a daily basis and it’s never a problem. Whereas in the US, people are very sensitive about how people dress, and throughout the years, I’ve fallen victim to that very mindset.
Body shaming is a way to put limitations on your existence. It’s a concept that has left me loving my body in some cases and hating my body in others. It should never be that way. While I've overcome my fear, I'm still striving towards a more positive body image. I challenge you to find a place in your life that makes you uncomfortable, and wear it shamelessly.
I’d love to hear how you overcame or are currently struggling with a form of body shaming in your own life. Please share your story below in the comments section.
Até próxima vez, minhas pessoas lindas, keep life sweet and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
whitewashing and identity: A comparison between two cultures
The ideals behind identity and the very dreaded existence of labels is very different in Brazil than in the US. In the US, I am labeled as black, female, heterosexual, cis-gender, and Christian, which string along other positive and negative labels. In Brazil, I'm not quite sure because I live with a middle-class Brazilian family, in a nice area of Sao Paulo, and I attend a prestigious university.
My uncertainty derives from Brazil's history. Brazil was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery in 1888. By that time, Africans consumed a great portion of the country's population, which lead to government imposed miscegenation or whitening of the population.
So why do I have this uncertainty of what’s white and what’s black in Brazil? One reason is because of a historical survey conducted in 1976 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. In the survey, Brazilians were asked to state the color they thought they were without the restrictions of the typical categories of white, pardo, and black. The survey revealed 136 different responses (pages 27-30). This survey reveals how subjective race is whereas in the US, any amount of African ancestry means that you’re black.
Another reason is because of the elite. If you're rich or in a position of power and you look like me, you're not black. You're white. It's a concept that dates back to when former African slaves would buy their freedom and later gain positions of power that eradicated their blackness. However, this concept does not prevent people of color from discrimination or racism.
Just from my day-to-day experiences in Brazil, no one could sell to me that it's a racial democracy, that everyone's mixed, or that race does not exist here. People of color make up more than 50% of the population, but over 70% of the poor and well over half of the unemployed. It's definitely more complex than in the US because people of color are the majority, but it boils down to the same societal message: blackness is not equivalent to white.
For example, the renowned Brazilian soccer player, Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., was asked in 2010 if he had ever been a victim of racism. He responded:
Nunca. Nem dentro e nem fora de campo. Até porque eu não sou preto, né? [Never. Neither inside nor outside the field. Because I'm not black, right?]
His response was very fitting since he had never traveled outside of the country and in Brazil, he isn't black. While it's challenging to explain, it's important to note that preto/a is the Brazilian equivalent to the n-word. Whereas negro/a is the appropriate way to say you're black, and moreno/a is a euphemism for blackness. Take a glance at some of these recent to older pictures of Neymar, Jr. The pictures reveal a form of physical whitening over the years.
With the recent outrage over Raven-Symoné's remarks as a co-host on The View, there's something very concerning happening to her identity that's similar to Neymar. We want to attack Raven for her self-hating remarks, but really we're ignoring the most important message about why she even believes these things. We're ignoring what Neymar's transformation actually means. These two scenarios, among many others, reveal that we base our self-worth upon a societal standard of whiteness.
I'll never forget when I told my parents that I wanted to stop relaxing/straightening my hair and that I wanted to be natural. They cringed with fear out of the idea of their daughter becoming "too black". Too black to get a job. Too black to be successful. Too black to survive in a society that puts whiteness on a pedestal.
This is a heartbreaking phenomenon that I've chosen to tackle because labels are the very reasons why we hurt and destroy one another. Your labels are created by the outside world looking in on your existence. Your identity is you looking within yourself into the outside world. Your labels mean nothing. But your identity is important to you and those around you. Your identity is the difference between self-love and self-hate. I struggle with my identity because all I've ever found is that this world does not identify with me, which is why all the intangible aspects of your identity matter just as much as the physical.
Don't let this world's labels dictate who you are. You make your identity and that alone is worthy of all of your love.
Até próxima vez, minhas pessoas linda, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
While most people do not completely fit into one specific category when it comes to extroversion and introversion, I'll preface this post by clarifying that it is for my fellow introverts that would prefer to stay in and watch a movie/TV series alone than to stay in and hang out with a few friends. While this sounds the least bit of entertaining, if you find this to be therapeutic on a regularly scheduled basis, then this might be the right post for you. If you ever feel drained after a long day of socializing with others and cannot wait to enjoy some quiet silence composed of doing absolutely nothing, this post may also be right up your alley.
1. Say yes to only what's best (for you)
While studying abroad is about getting out of your comfort zone, making decisions that keep you feeling whole and happy are important. When you're the only person that doesn't want to participate in an activity, it's easy to feel like you're lame. Don't let these temporary feelings get to you. It's best to partake in activities that bring you fulfillment, and not just those around you.
2. Make time for what you love
It seems like such an obvious thing to do, but between coursework and other obligations, it's easy to neglect the things you love to do most.
Since I have more free time than I normally would during the semester, I've looked into gym and dance studio memberships. After visiting a few places, I've found that dance makes me feel rejuvenated and reconnected to movement, which I haven't felt since my color guard days nearly 4 years ago.
Maybe what you love to do requires less resources, like reading or writing. You'll definitely want to make time for these things as well as seek out the resources to make them happen because it will help you feel more at home.
3. Chase your passions
When I arrived in Brazil, I knew I wanted to learn all I could about my passions, which are education and equality. Regardless of where I travel, I want to learn about how these things function in society, and you may feel the very same about your passions. As introverts, we're insightful thinkers. We like to understand things for ourselves. With this understanding, we can contribute value to society in some way. I naturally keep my ideas to myself, but it doesn't help me gain any new knowledge or make a positive impact.
This is why it is important to reach out to people in the community that are experts in topics that interest you. You could contact a professor, service organization leader, or any other knowledgeable expert that is willing to meet with you and discuss your topics of interest. This is also a great way to interact with locals and potentially practice the language if it's different from your native tongue.
4. Be patient with building relationships
My host program kept me so busy with actives my first couple of weeks in Brazil that I had no time to process whether or not I was developing friendships. Once I moved into my homestay and began classes at the university, loneliness began to sink in.
My introversion translates to me being very reserved. It takes me quite some time to discern that I have a relationship with others. For nearly a month and a half, I felt pretty lonely. However, now that I've been here for 2 months, I have developed friendships.
Keep in mind that when you study overseas, you'll have the opportunity to meet TONS of people, so don't fret when you don't click with people right away because you're sure to meet more. Whether it takes a little longer than expected (similar to my experience), you are going to build relationships.
5. Challenge yourself
This is probably the most difficult one but it's likely to strengthen your character and independence as a young adult. I'll list a few examples of how you can go about challenging yourself, but it's solely based upon your own interpretation.
Regardless of whether the challenge is in or out of your control, know that it's worth it and a little discomfort will only make you stronger.
Remember, introverts are the bomb.com. Boa-Viagem! -xo
On my third day in Sao Paulo, I moved from a hostel into my homestay. My host family welcomed me with open arms. Even their cat has cozied up with me while I work on my laptop just to show his affection. I honestly love the unique experience that a homestay offers. Throughout the next several months, I’ll compile a pros and cons list of living with a local family while abroad.
My first nightlife experience was at ò do borogodo. At first glance, you’re potentially in an unsafe area in which you should flee. Beyond this surface, once the garage doors covered in artistic graffiti open up to a small space that eventually turns into a full blown Samba club with live music fueling the rhythm of the expert Samba dancers amongst the less rhythmically talented bar goers (that was me). In other words, it’s an awesome way to get a first-hand look at a small portion of Brazil’s artistic culture along with familiarizing yourself with popular alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages and delicious bites! So far, meat and cheese pastel and a caipirinha is the way to go.
Within the first week, my two most favorite experiences were visiting Pico do Jaraguáand participating in a beginner Samba class. Pico do Jaraguá is simply amazing. It’s a great hiking area, if you’re up for a rigorous hike, and the view from the top of the mountain is amazing because you can see the entire city of Sao Paulo. However, the city is so large that even this high level view doesn’t completely capture its essence, but it comes pretty close. For the Samba lesson, I learned Samba no Pé. The class was laid back and very fun. At the end, the studio owners performed Samba de Gafieira. The fact that they’re married was adorable, but it was truly mesmerizing to see the two of them dance together with such joy. Yet another experience that served as a cultural artistic treat!
The day I moved into my homestay, my host mother showed me where shopping centers, metros, bus stops, and other stores are located. She even provided me with a handwritten list of buses that I could take to get to various destinations. Unfortunately, I was under the impression that I would have to take all the buses listed to a particular location. This misunderstanding, as my Portuguese still needs work, landed me in the outskirts of Sao Paulo. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to put money on my cheap pay-as-you-go phone, but thankfully, the team leader of my program called me. I couldn’t make outgoing calls, but I could receive them. She told me to speak with the person on the bus that handles entry payments. I asked him if the bus was going to return to the street I needed, and he mumbled angrily toward me. Once the bus stopped at the end of the route, he wobbled off the bus complaining about my confusion and found someone that could help me. My team leader ended up speaking with the bus manager via phone. Although initially confused, he was very happy to help me return to my intended destination.
Getting lost in any new place can be discomforting and sometimes scary. Every morning before I leave home, my host mother tells me, “Vai com Deus,” or “Go with God”. The morning I got lost was no different. As I saw the bus getting further and further from the familiar area, I tried to remain calm in knowing that God would send help and He did. Despite all the changes and differences I experience as a traveler, I find peace in knowing that my God remains the same.
Most importantly, when a local shows you how to do certain things in a new place, make sure you pay close attention. I simply didn’t know how to alert the bus driver to stop or even which stop to get off at because while my team leader has been showing us useful tips, I’ve been socializing with the other students in my program. Then again, getting it wrong can teach you a lot more about yourself than getting it right ever can.
My next few posts will cover more serious topics as I begin to better understand the social and political climate in Brazil. Até logo, as pessoas linda! -xo