Outbound Exchange Student

Alexandria Mary Jackson

Brazil

Alexandria Jackson, age 16, is a junior at Bend Senior High School (Bend, Oregon) and is an outbound Rotary Youth Exchange student living and studying in Curitiba, Brazil. After learning about RYE, Alexandria decided the year-long exchange was the perfect opportunity to learn from others and to emphasize the fact that cultural similarities outweigh differences - even on a global scale. She aspires to create peace through love and knowledge.

 

February 2017

Ola, pessoal!

Como vocês estão?

It has been six months since I have arrived here in beautiful Brazil. I cannot express how happy I am to have chosen this country; the culture is so lively, and the people are very unique. Brazil is a country full of diversity and parts of culture waiting to be discovered.

You've probably been wondering why you haven't heard from me in a while! A lot has occurred since my last update, so let me share with you:

In the end of November, after I succeeded in lessons of Portuguese and graduated from my class for it, I moved host families. My second host family was a good one, however I wasn't feeling all too at home with them. Before I arrived in Brazil, they said that they would correct my Portuguese because at that time I had been chatting with them, my speaking skills in the language were poor.

For the first four months I had with my first host family, they learned the way I expressed myself through Portuguese. They were very accepting of my errors in speaking, and they would correct me here and there. They witnessed me improve, and by the time I went to my second host house, I could converse with them and effectively express myself. I was only with my second host family for a month because I was going to travel in January and a bit of February in the Northeast of Brazil (I'll get to that beautiful expedition in a minute). A month is not at all the ideal time frame for a family to fully understand how their exchange student speaks. I was always is nervous to speak there in the beginning. I was always afraid of stumbling over words of conjugating verbs incorrectly. And inevitably, there were days where my tounge ignored what my brain was telling it to express in Portuguese. It was a bit difficult for me to adjust to the way they spoke; the words they used in their sentences were different and it would take me a little longer to process them. I would often ask, " O que?" when I didn't quite get the gist of what they were saying. There was actually a time where I introduced them to my friend who is an inbound from Germany. They noticed how well he spoke in Portuguese. At some point during the conversation, my host parents turned to me and said that I need to learn how to speak as well as he does. It was a highly, highly frustrating thing for them to say to me when I was trying all of the time. But maybe it looked like I wasn't trying hard enough in there eyes. After this, I kind of let myself fall silent, and I tried not to speak as much in hopes of avoiding feeling even more self-conscious about possibly saying something incorrectly. I was nervous there speaking in Portuguese because I felt as though that each time I messed up a word, it would further prove to them that I can't speak as fluently as they had hoped I would.

It's funny to think that wasn't too long ago. The "January Jump" finally arrived and rearranged all of the pieces of the puzzle in learning a foreign language. By mid October/ early November I was starting to understand things in close to near completion. And now, I understand! Being in the NorthEastern part of Brazil sped up some of the process too. The accent is different! Take a look:https://youtu.be/wBNHaq5g5ZM

I spent a lovely 28 days travelling Northeastern cities with other inbounds. Ten cities, 28 days, and 54 hours in total spent for time travelling. In order, we travelled to these cities together: Jericoacoara, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Lençois, Salvador, Itacaré, Porto Seguro, Vitória, e Rio de Janiero! My two favorite cities were most definitely Jericoacora and Rio de Janeiro. In Jeri, we went on buggie rides in the sand; we ventured over huge sand dunes, blasted music, sped by the ocean, and saw wild cattle. On the second day there, we went on the buggies again, but this time they were in the rain! It was hard to hold on at points, and the seat slid off from where my friend and I were sitting! It was so much fun! The terrain was a bit rougher, too!! In Rio de Janerio, we got to travel to the top of Pão de Açucar ( a tall, beautiful mountain), we saw monkeys that sat waiting for food there, and we enjoyed the view! It was a spectacuar experience being up there! On the last day, we all took the train to the top of another mountain to where the famous Christ stands over looking Rio de Janeiro. I felt humbled to have been able to have seen it person. I always saw pictures of it and videos in movies and wondered how in the heck people even got up there!

There were many amazing things to see in all of the cites. I am forgetting which one it was now, but we hiked in its canyons, and swam in its natural waterfalls. This city also had a natural waterside out near the canyons as well! We went caving, and the air of the cave so refreshing because it was HOT. There were so many things that happened in those 28 days that it is difficult for me to remember it all! I don't think I can explain it as well as the pictures can. Please, If you are not already a friend of mine on Facebook, please add me at Alexandria Mary Jackson. I want you to see the photos!

You'll be hearing from me soon again!
Have a great month!
Abraços,
Alexandria :)

September 26th

Oi! Tudo bom?

I want to apologize for being late with this email! I haven't quite had the time to sit down and focus on sending a recent update!

Happy Autumn to you all! It is now spring here in Brasil, but it is still cold here in Curitiba! Haha! Despite the cold, the fluctuations in temperature are just right for flowers to begin blooming. It rains here often too. In Bend, we don't have a whole lot of rain, so this is a treat for me!

The challenge of Portuguese is a difficult but enjoyable one! All of the different conjugations of verbs creates some nervous energy for me. But with the help of Portuguese classes and solo-studying, that nervous energy is slowly becoming less! Over the past month, I have noticed that I am beggingg to have some difficulties remembering some English words, or how you say certain things in English. It is as if my brain wants to create more storage space for Portuguese words, and in order to do so, it is throwing away English vocabulary! Wow! That is a little freaky.

Just this past weekend, myself along with the other inbounds (there are about 60 of us total) had an immersion weekend with members of Rotex. This weekend was so great! All of the inbounds bonded much more, so now, we really feel like a family! I LOVE the other inbounds here. They are all so kind and fun. I have friends who I look up to for support, too. One of the inbounds here, Saar, is one of these people (I think she is from Sweden?). She is so sweet, and I look up to her like she is an older sister! Some photos of the Rotex weekend are attached for you all to see!

My host family I have currently is so wonderful! I love them so much! I will be living here until the end of November. Although it seems like a long time, it really isn't! Time flies by here so fast! I really feel like a part of the family. With the help of my host sister Ananda (who is now in Taiwan on her exchange) I have learned how to make use of the bus system in Curitiba!! Do I understand all of it? I wish! I know just enough to get to and from places I want/need to go.

I haven't really experienced a whole lot of homesickness yet. I have had points where I am sitting thinking, "man, I miss holding my dog, and chatting/playing with my mom and sister." Or like, "I miss my friends. I miss my school." I miss the way Central Oregon looks. I mean its scenery. I miss the smell of Juniper, cold, frosty mornings, and hearing Bob Shaw on the local news. I am begginng to miss the little things more often (especially the mountains). And one of those things is my long board. I would ride it nearly each day in Oregon.

I have thought about buying a long board (or something smaller) here, but I'm not sure where the best places for skating in the city are. And I am aware that if I buy a new board that I may have to leave it behind at the end of my exchange. Let's just see what the future brings!

I am remembering to blog as often as I can, too! In case you don't have it, the link to my blog is here: http://alexandriamary4.wixsite.com/alexandriarye

I have recently purchased new notebooks for myself to write down my thoughts and create new poetry. I hope all is going well in life for you!

Obrigada e abraços!!
Alexandria

 

November 5th

Attached to this email are some pictures for you! I hope that you all enjoy. All is well on my end, here. However, I am finding myself to miss Oregon more and more. Having the other inbounds with me here in the city is so helpful. When I am with them, I feel at ease, comfortable, and happy! They are really feeling so much like family!

I've also begun studying some French! There are quite a few inbounds from France here, and I am always so curious about what they are saying. They are so adorable!

A good month to you all!
Tchau!

P.S. Ha! I forgot to mention that today I just completed my first social project! All of the inbounds came together with rotex to repaint some walls for an elementary school! Paint was EVERYWHERE!