Sleep and Caffeine Make the World Go Round


Welcoming committee from when I first arrived.

Welcoming committee from when I first arrived.

It’s been less than a week and yet it feels like I’ve been here forever.

On Tuesday I was supposed to have my first day of Portuguese school, but the class was canceled, unbeknownst to me and Virna. Portuguese school takes place at the public school and is free. But Virna and I showed up and were told that the class had been canceled. The teacher who told us invited me to her English class, and I said yes, since I was thinking of Abi and her thing was to always say yes. The class was for basically anybody who wanted to learn English.

As far as I could tell, people in that class ranged from eighteen to forty years of age. They were doing presentations on their life. I sat through several presentations of terrible English. All I really wanted to do was leave since I had no idea who any of these people were and was waaaay outside of my comfort zone. I was asked several times if I had a boyfriend or wanted a boyfriend. I said no to the first and shrugged uncomfortably to the second. Finally the class was over, but Virna wouldn’t be coming to pick me up for another thirty minutes. The teacher showed me into an office where I watched about half of a super dramatic soap opera. I have no idea what they were saying in it, but I do know that some girl liked this guy and they all live in a super fancy house and these two girls were fighting and it was really insulting to the other if they pulled all of the covers off a bed. Yup.

After my host mom came to get me, we went to buy the tee shirt that is my uniform for Portuguese class. It is simply a polo shirt with the school logo. I’ll take a picture of it eventually.

Then, on Wednesday, was my first day of school! I was super nervous because all I was imagining were basically horror stories. When I was in eighth grade and lived in Mexico for the year, my whole class laughed at me on the first day of school because a kid pulled a joke on me since I didn’t speak Spanish. I also arrived an hour late since I was in the wrong time zone. I also have heard stories from other exchange students about their terrible first days of school. People would say that they would come home and cry and cry and cry. Needless to say, I was braced for the worst. It could not have been more of the opposite.

Another view of Natal.

Another view of Natal.

Since I had already been introduced to my class the day before, everyone already knew who I was and invited me to sit next to them. I was kind of an instant celebrity. They all love love love the United States even if they have never been and would tell me all about it. They watch American TV shows and listen to American music. A lot of them speak decent English and nearly fell over in gratitude when I told them that they were great at English. Of course, some of them couldn’t speak a word of English.

A quick note here: Due to my Spanish, I understand A TON of Portuguese, especially if it is spoken slowly. But when I open my mouth Spanish tends to fall out, and people give me strange looks and tell me to speak in English.

Okay, so back to school. Many of my classmates don’t speak English, and then they talk to each other really quickly and have a conversation (in Portuguese) that tends to go along these lines:

STUDENT: Does she speak Portuguese? Where is she from?

OTHER STUDENT: No. She speaks English. She’s from the United States.

FIRST STUDENT: Do you speak English?

OTHER STUDENT: A little, but not very well.

FIRST STUDENT: Ask her what her name is!

OTHER STUDENT: No, you ask!

And at this point, all I want to say is, “I understand everything you are saying, except I don’t know how to tell you that in Portuguese. So I’m going to sit here and pretend like I have no idea what’s going on.”

Hey guys, guess what? Meu nome e Claire.

I’ve listened to that conversation maybe fifteen times, so I really really really can understand it in Portuguese.

I feel like my class is so welcoming and kind. They want to know everything about me. I think America could learn a thing or two about Brazilian hospitality. Being the new kid at an American high school is nerve wracking and terrible because you are never sure if anyone is going to say hi to you. I remember this from my freshmen year. And, of course, it’s over dramatized in American movies and TV. But here I have so many people trying to get my attention and asking me to sit next to them.

The break/lunch hour is at eleven, and then you can go and buy food or eat what you have brought. Virna gave me money to buy food. Because I am in the school with most of the other exchange students, they showed me the ropes and told me how to order. Basically, you tell the cashier what you want and pay, and they give you a receipt. You take the receipt to a different person who gives you what you ordered. This is the only fun part about school since you can actually talk to people and make friends.

I have quickly found out that the exchange students at my school are not expected to do classwork or homework or take tests or quizzes. We are to concentrate all of our energy on learning Portuguese. This makes class sooooooooo boring. We all bring books or journals or are on our phones and nobody says ANYTHING since we are just those people who aren’t actually here for a grade. And even if we wanted to do the work, so far all of the teachers have simply lectured and I can’t follow what they are saying and take notes and pretend like I’m a part of the class. So I’ve doodled and journaled and read the single book that I brought. Also, since I am not the only exchange student in my class, I am not quite as popular as I’ve heard other exchange students in Brazil are. But they are like kings and queens because they are usually the only exchange student in their school. I’m okay with this because I like seeing my exchange buddies every day. Sadly, Pierre and Veera do not go to my school, but I will see them a lot anyways!

This is a rough schedule of my day:

Wake up at 6 and eat breakfast. School is from 7:30 to 1:15. Come home and eat lunch with Virna. Take a nap (i.e. pass out from exhaustion and culture shock. I swear Virna thinks that the only thing I do is sleep. I tried to tell her that I’m simply tired because everything is new and different and therefore exhausting, but she told me maybe next semester I can go to classes later. When I get better at Portuguese I’ll try to explain again.) Do whatever activity Virna has planned for the night. Pass out for bed. Repeat.

Yesterday, I finally had Portuguese class. It was kind of a cultural experience more than anything else. We learned about vowels, which was good, because it helps to have some basis of how to pronounce things, but the teacher also put on music and danced samba and lectured us that they don’t really move their upper body. She also taught what the word for nickname was. I had fun just because it was so different than what I was expecting, and I met a lot of new people. Other than the exchange students in Rotary, there were some exchange students from a different program. Two Italians, a Spanish girl, a girl from Thailand, another girl from Germany, another guy from Belgium, and a girl from Turkey. They were just loud and happy and I had fun.

Dona Fatima cooking.

Dona Fatima cooking.

Here’s something interesting. Virna has a person named Dona Fatima (unsure of spelling here) come around three times a week. She cleans and makes breakfast and lunch and does the laundry and probably more that I am unsure of. This is pretty cool, but I’m totally unsure of the relationship with the two people here. Dona Fatima has a daughter named Eduarda who is currently in Finland with Rotary. She is Virna’s god daughter and stays with her during the week. Soooo I totally don’t understand at all the relationship. I’ll ask at some point.

When Dona Fatima isn’t cooking, Virna takes me to various restaurants. They follow the same pattern of the restaurant I described earlier; you get a card and they weigh your food (I even think you pay for the weight of the plate, but food is so cheap it doesn’t matter) and you pay for everything at the end. Virna hasn’t cooked at all so far. Sometimes we have leftovers. I’m not sure if this is a regular thing or if it’s just for now while I’m still settling in.



I guess the only other thing to report is that I am pretty scared of Virna’s dog. She has two dogs, a Chihuahua and a poodle. The poodle is really old and is blind and literally has to be dragged around everywhere. He actually makes me pretty depressed since I think in America we would have put him down by now. Poor thing. I’m not sure how to spell his name but it sounds like Cafoo. Now, Zeca is the Chihuahua. Sometimes he is really really nice and you can pet him and hold him, but a few days ago he just went wild and bit my foot. It didn’t break the skin or anything but it scared me and I put antibiotic cream on it just in case. Apparently he thinks that he needs to protect Virna from me. So now I am really careful when I am around him because I am never sure what mood he’s going to be in. Also, when Virna’s boyfriend Leonardo comes around, he’s really mean to Virna because Leonardo is now the person to be protected.

My dog bites a few days later.

My dog bite a few days later.



Someone asked me about the pronunciation of Natal.

Na: It’s like “Nah, I’m not hungry.” Or “Not” without the “t”.

Tal: “Tall.” As in not short.

TAL THE NATIVE WAY: “Tow” except “ow” as in my foot hurts.


I was informed today that skin cancer is more prevalent in Natal than any other place in the world because of an atmospheric phenomenon that makes it closer to space (or something?) so there are more sun rays that hit this part of the world than anywhere else. I will be googling this ASAP as well as purchasing sunscreen and a hat tomorrow.


I go to a private school that Virna pays for, not Rotary. I asked her about this but she didn’t seem to think anything of it. She told me that the public school is really really good but there are drugs and things there so Rotary doesn’t want the exchange students to go to that school. I’m still a little bit confused about the whole thing, as are my fellow exchange students.


Virna drinks coffee at every single meal, and then some. The coffee here is really strong and they only drink small cups of it. I had a cup and was buzzed on caffeine for like three hours after and that hasn’t happened to me in a long time ever since I started drinking coffee more regularly. I just thought I would comment.


Thoughts on race: Last year I took Socratic Seminar and one of my assignments was to write a twenty page research paper. I wanted to do something about Brazil, so I researched race relations and Brazil. It was super interesting, and the short story is that Brazil likes to pretend that racism is not a big deal, when in fact it is very prevalent. The government never officially discriminated against blacks, and because of this, Afro-Brazilians never formed a cohesive alliance to create social change like Martin Luther King Jr. did. If you take a survey on a Brazilian street and interview fifty different people who look exactly the same (to you) they will all (most likely) give you different names for what race they are. Personally, I think that this in particular is fascinating. Anyways, I think (based on my extremely limited knowledge of Natal) that I am in a city that has mostly lighter skin. I wouldn’t call them white, but they aren’t black. Today, the philosophy teacher was black, and the first thing someone said to me, and this was a guy who had never spoken in English to me before since he was too shy, was that the teacher is black. I wasn’t able to ask if that made the teacher inferior, but I got the feeling that that’s what he meant. And then when I got home from school today, Virna’s boyfriend told me that Brazil is not like the United States because they don’t have as many issues with racism as the United States does. Just some food for thought.


I knew this already, but saying thank you can go a thousand miles. I’ve noticed that Brazilians don’t seem to thank their wait staff, etc. and I have been since you should always say thank you and they seem super surprised and grateful.


Traffic. I can’t even describe it it’s so crazy. Virna consistently drives in the direct middle of two lanes. Motorcycles weave in and out. Everyone seems to follow a pattern of chaos that they all know. Yet I haven’t seen people crashing into each other right and left.


They never have spicy food. They don’t like it. I like the food, but I’m kind of dying that it isn’t spicy at all. I miss my spicy food. I have a tiny bottle of tajin that I brought but I’m saving it for a special occasion.


Virna bought me five different kinds of mangoes to try. They smell so good! I’m going to start on them tomorrow. I love mangoes and I’m so excited about this!


Living the farm life with Virna

Living the farm life with Virna

Two parrots live in the apartment downstairs and are constantly making parrot sounds. It’s pretty cool.


I have yet to see a can of Diet Coke here, or even Pepsi, but Coke Zero is quite prevalent. In my opinion Coke Zero is better than Diet Coke so I’m completely fine with this.


Well, thanks for reading my essay! I’ll update again at some point!

New Friends and a New School

Hello, everyone! So far so good. Soon I’m going to my very first day of Portuguese school, so I’ll keep this short.

Yesterday, I woke up late, and then I had a little breakfast with Virna. So far, I am eating a lot of fruit, especially papaya (mamão). All the fruit is so good here since it is fresh! It reminds me of Mexico, except no Mangos yet (sad face – hi Paige!).

Last night was the birthday party of one of the other Rotary inbounds. Her name is Veera and she is from Finland (not French, like me and Virna thought). I met all of the other Rotary Inbounds at the party, and we are a sum total of eight.

Me – America

Haven – America (California)

Veera – Finland

Eric – Finland

Jeanne – France

Pierre – Belgium

Chen – Taiwan

Chiara – Germany

It seems like we are all best friends already and I have known them for only one day. We ate and talked and laughed and walked around together. We walked around the neighborhood together and picked coconuts off of the trees and broke them open and drank the water and ate the meat. We all gave Veera presents and she was very emotional because we have only known each other for a short time, but still we gave her gifts.

English is the common language between all of us, and so we will be speaking English together until we all speak enough Portuguese to get by. They all speak more Portuguese than I do since most of them have been here for a month already while I arrived on Sunday. I also felt kind of weird since everyone there knew all about American politics and about the country etc. while I knew almost nothing about their countries. Veera asked me what I was going to do if Trump got elected. They all don’t want Trump to be the president as much as I do. I will see them again today at Portuguese school!

Today, I went to my school with Virna to complete my enrollment. I start tomorrow. I met my class and I am with Chen and Jeanne which I am very happy about. I felt like I met every single person on the campus. The dean, a lot of teachers, and more more more. My school is called Henrique Castriciano. On my guarantee form, it says my school is Escola Domestica do Natal, and when I told the other inbounds that last night they told me to ask my host mom if I could go to Henrique Castriciano because Escola Domestica is an all girls’ school and is very traditional. However, it shares a campus with Henrique Castriciano. I asked Virna about it, and she said that it only says on my guarantee form that I’m going to Escola Domestic for some weird reason that I am unsure of, but in reality I’m going to Henrique Castriciano. That makes me very happy!



Destination, Departure, and Arrival


Family selfie in DIA with a blurry Paige

Family selfie in DIA with a blurry Paige

Written Saturday, September 5, 2015

Well, I’m off! I left Denver at 9:46am on September 9. Today. I knew my departure would be very rapid between me getting my visa and leaving the country, but I was unable to grasp that concept until it became a reality.

I’ve been working at an insurance company as a temp thanks to one of my neighbors, since I needed something to occupy my time, but it was pretty boring work, so I had a lot of time to get depressed about not having my visa and check my email constantly hoping that it would appear.

I got home from work on Thursday, September 3 a little early since I’d had a high blood sugar all day and all I wanted to do was sleep and ignore everything for a while. I was in a pretty black mood and was even thinking something along the lines of, “What if my application for my visa is rejected? What am I going to do then? Well, everyone has already started college and I’ve already deferred admission so I wouldn’t be able to go to school in place of Brazil. Well, I could just buy a plane ticket and backpack around places. I could work. Oh, I’m never leaving.” Etc. Etc. Etc. But then almost right as I got home, I got a call from the travel agency saying that they had my visa and they would overnight it to me and the earliest I could leave was Saturday.

Today is Saturday, and I have left.

I spent forever thinking about leaving, and now I am gone. I spent a few days packing and generally freaking out and not sleeping at all at night.

I don’t feel sad. I don’t really feel excited, or even nervous. I guess I am just feeling jittery. Like something big is coming ahead. Something big is coming my way.

Lydia, one of the other girls going to Brazil from d.5450 was on my plane from Denver to Miami, and this is where we part. She goes straight to Belo Horizonte. I go to Sao Paulo, and then Natal. We are both waiting for our planes. Her plane leaves at midnight, and I leave around ten. So we have a few hours together yet. We are in our blazers and people are giving us second glances but haven’t said anything to us. Unfortunately, we didn’t sit together on the flight from Denver to Miami. That flight was kind of annoying for me since I sat in front of this guy and girl who flirted and talked with each other really loudly the entire flight. I had to put in my headphones even though I didn’t want to listen to music the entire time just so I could drown them out.

So, these are my last few hours in America! Now I am excited! I have a while to wait, and a long flight ahead, but as Nancy said, what’s a few more hours if I’ve been waiting months?


Well, guys, I am in Brazil now. I am writing this form the table of my apartment. My host mom is sitting with me doing some work.

Claire, Amy, and Lydia. Off to Brazil!

Claire, Amy, and Lydia. Off to Brazil!

In the Miami airport, Lydia and I found another girl with a blazer on whose name is Amy. Amy was on my flight from Miami to Sao Paulo with me, but her ending destination was a little outside of Sao Paulo, while I had another flight to catch. I slept a little on the flight, but mostly not at all. The thing I was the most nervous about for the whole trip was going to Sao Paulo and checking in to get my ticket and collecting my bags so they could be checked under the plane. I was really happy Amy was there with me while we got our bags and figured out how the carts work (it turns out you have to push down on the handles or the wheels don’t move). She was really nervous about meeting her host family for the first time while I was really nervous about navigating the airport.

We parted while I headed over to Domestic Connections and found the desk and checked in. I gave the man my passport and my flight number and he got me a ticket and took one of my bags. A different man told me in broken English that my other bag was “special” and I needed to take it to an open door that behind of a lot of ropes blocking it off and a big sign that said DO NOT ENTER. So I stood there for a while and stared at the door, but the man noticed that I hadn’t done anything, and told me the same thing again, so I made my way over to the door that was marked DO NOT ENTER, and there were two men who checked the tag on my bag and took it. So I was really confused and unsure if my bags were going to end up in the same place or not. It worked out but it was just another level of what the heck is going on here to add to my day.

Observations about Portuguese: Like Spanish, it is spoken very fast. I have no idea what anyone is saying when it is spoken really fast. When it is spoken slower, I can catch words and phrases because a lot of it sounds like Spanish.

I found my gate and went through Security and sat there for two hours trying not to fall asleep since I was in an unfamiliar airport in an unfamiliar country and I didn’t want to miss the flight anyways.

IMG_2932I didn’t miss the flight. I had a huge ball of anxiety in the beginning of the flight, but I was asleep before it took off.

When I finally got to Natal, both of my bags were there and my host mom wasn’t. My flight was maybe thirty minutes early so I just stood there for a long time waiting. A woman came up to me and asked me if I needed help. She saw my blazer and knew I was from America. She offered to call my host mom for me and was just putting her phone number in my phone so I could call her if nobody showed up for me when three people came to me and called me by name. I had no idea who they were, but they knew my name so I figured, hey, maybe it’s just a part of the welcoming party, and the lady left. They also mentioned my mom’s name: Virna. But they didn’t speak English at all. I’m still unsure of their function within/without Rotary, etc. But I was happy to have someone who knew who I was and why I was there. They drafted a woman, asking her if she spoke English, and she didn’t but she spoke German. I am also unsure of her relation, because it seemed like they knew her, but I’m just not sure. Finally, Virna showed up! And she speaks pretty broken English, but enough to get by. There was another lady who spoke perfect English and she was telling me who was who, but I must say I’ve completely forgotten. I was so overwhelmed. I’m not sure of her connection to Rotary also.

I went with Virna, Virna’s sister, and Virna’s nephew and the nephew’s girlfriend to drop my things at the house and then we would go eat and then I could sleep. The nephew spoke pretty good English, and he has lived in Atlanta before. He was telling me that most Brazilians like the Patriots (as in American Football) because Tom Brady is married to a Brazilian. I don’t like the Patriots, but I might have to conform, as much as it pains me. And I’ve also brought Broncos pennants as host gifts, ha!

Virna just moved to a new apartment, so it is not as close to the beach as I thought it was. It is in the center of the city, and everyone told me that this is where everything happens, so I think it works out one way or the other. Besides, there are busses for that kind of thing. We dropped my bags off, and then me and Virna and Virna’s sister went to a restaurant so I could get something to eat since I was absolutely starving. We were limited to one choice of restaurant since apparently all of the restaurants close at three and then open again at six, and it was three thirty. The restaurant was pretty interesting, but I’m only thinking that now since I was too tired to care at the time. You get a card as you go in, and then you get your food (kind of buffet style), and you take it to a cash register where they weigh the food and then swipe your card. When you are finished eating you take your card to a different cash register where you pay for everything that you ate at once. Neat system.

Then we dropped Virna’s sister off at her apartment and then went to Virna’s (and now my!) apartment, and I proceeded to take a three hour nap. After I woke up, we had some dinner and then Virna invited over her two cousins that are about my age and their mom who live next door. I will be going to school with one of the girls. I just kind of sat there and listened and wished I could go to bed since I was still really tired. After a while they left and I started to unpack and then I went to bed.

Well, here I am! Everything is exhausting because I have to make a decision over everything and really think about it. It is really hot and humid, but with a breeze I think it is really quite pleasant. But this is winter, so it’s only going to get hotter.

Some other random observations:

So far Virna has made me a lot of juice, but the concentrate has no sugar, and then you add sugar to your glass to taste. I like this system since I can control the carbs I am drinking.

Today is Independence Day so there is no school/work. I enroll in school tomorrow and start on Wednesday.

Don’t drink the tap water. It’s like Mexico, folks.

Drink a lot of water because it’s really hot.

I will be going to Portuguese school on Tuesdays and Thursdays after my regular school with all of the other exchange students in the city.

There are only 8 exchange students with Rotary here in Natal (including me) and 10 other exchange students that aren’t with Rotary. I haven’t met any of them yet but I can’t wait to.

Also, I’m going to a French girl’s birthday party today! She is with Rotary and I have never met her before, but I’m excited to start meeting everyone.

Well, that’s all for now! I’ll update more whenever I get up to it.

My first look at Natal. Pretty bad pic, but I'll get a better one at some point.

My first look at Natal. Pretty bad pic, but I’ll get a better one at some point.

I Might Actually Leave The Country


Inbounds, outbounds, and rebounds to Brazil

Inbounds, outbounds, and rebounds to Brazil

On Sunday, I went to a barbecue hosted by my sponsor Rotary district: 5450. It was for all newly inbound students (the people for the other districts around the world that are living in Colorado for their exchange year), their host families, outbound students (people like me from d.5450 going to different parts of the world for their exchange year), and rebound students (people who are also from d.5450 but they went on their exchange in previous years and have returned).

I was talking about going to this barbecue with my mother and she offered to go with me. I was kind of nervous. I wouldn’t really know anyone, except for Rotarians and one other outbound student beside me. So I was happy that Mom was going to come with me. But then I realized that I was about to leave to a country that I know next to nothing about without my mother to hold my hand. So I told Mom that I was perfectly fine and I would go to the barbecue alone.

I put on what I’m starting to call my “Brazilian face” and pulled up to the park and went up to the first ground of people I was and introduced myself.

It turns out that this was the first time all the inbounds had met each other, too, so I wasn’t the only awkward person who was unsure of what to do and talk to.

I have to say, I am soooo happy I went to this barbecue. I met so many nice people, including three girls from Brazil. I already knew two of them virtually, but I didn’t know that until I got there and started talking to them. One of them, Mary, is from Natal, the city I am going to once I get my visa. I also met a boy who went to Brazil last year – one of the rebounds. Sydney was also there. She is one of the three of us girls from Colorado d.5450 going to Brazil still waiting for her visa.

I asked the Brazilians what I should bring with me to Brazil. What item was so simple that they all know what it is but I have no idea? It turns out the answer is… wait for it… Mac n’ Cheese!

I’m not kidding. Like, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. Now I am the proud owner of two five packs of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese that have been carefully placed in my suitcase, ready for the trip to Brazil.

I also spoke to Kimberly, a bigwig in Rotary, during the bbq, and she told me that the girl going to Turkey from d.5450 received her visa and was out of the country within twenty four hours. The kids exchanging in Turkey were having just as much trouble getting their visas as the kids exchanging in Brazil. And now she’s there! Wow! So apparently I need to be packed and ready to go!

And that’s not even the best part! On Monday, Sydney texted me saying that she had just gotten an email from the travel agency telling her that she had been approved for her visa. The travel agency would overnight it to her, along with her passport, and she could leave to Brazil any time after Wednesday. She left yesterday! As in Thursday, August 27! YESTERDAY!

I submitted for my visa about a week after Sydney submitted for hers. I am very hopeful that I will get my visa early next week then. Fingers crossed.

Right now I have one suitcase packed, and one full of things that I need to put in an orderly fashion so I can close it when I receive word. Unpacked is about a week and a half’s worth of clothes that I can fit into a suitcase that can be carried on, so I don’t need to worry about packing it last minute. I am driving Paige, my sister, crazy, since our room is completely trashed. All of my winter clothes have been placed in boxes and put in storage because the next time I will need them is going to be in Ohio 2016. I’ve taken all of my posters off from the walls so Paige can use the wall since I’m moving out for five years except summer (for the foreseeable future, at least).

It seems like my adventure might actually be close to starting. I can’t wait!

Changed Paths

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

October, 2010. I am thirteen years old.

October, 2010. I am thirteen years old.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change, recently, just because I’ve realized I’ve changed. I’ve grown up. I started this blog a little more than five years ago. My first post was on March 20, 2010, a lovely piece entitled “Hi.” The entire content was less than a paragraph. I look back on it and I smile, because I have changed since then. I am not the same person as I was on March 20, 2010. I was in seventh grade and thirteen years old. Now I am a recently graduated eighteen year old. I am a very different person than who I used to be.

When I started this blog, my entire life was centered on the daily ins and outs of living with type one diabetes. At this point in my life journey, I am interested in other things, too. You may or may not have noticed that my posts as of late have had almost nothing to do with diabetes. And yet the title of this blog is Diabetic Rockstar.

While I identify as a Diabetic Rockstar, this is not what I want to write about anymore. I’m not saying that I’m never going to write about diabetes again. I’m just trying to open myself to more avenues than simply the girl who takes on diabetes by storm and can laugh a little about it.

I still laugh about diabetes. I still spend hours upon hours of my day wondering about my blood sugar and counting carbohydrates. But I want to write about different things now.

When I was thirteen years old, I was completely focused on Tae-Kwon-Do, Harry Potter, diabetes, school, and middle school drama.

My eighteen year old self is focused on Harry Potter, exercising more than I do right now, exploring strange new worlds such as Brazil, travel, Brazil, Star Trek, writing a novel, diabetes, Brazil, Marvel Studios, gay rights, Brazil, voting, learning how to drink responsibly, Brazil, politics, fanfiction, Brazil, various different books, the idea that all grades are simply made up concepts, Brazil, etc. The list goes on and on.

September, 2014

September, 2014

I have grown up since I was thirteen years old. I guess the point that I’m trying to make here is that this blog is going to be changing from its original focus. At some point in the nearish future, I will be changing the title “Diabetic Rockstar” to something that encompasses a more worldly perspective. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to call my blog, but it’s not going to be “Diabetic Rockstar.” Because this Diabetic Rockstar is ready for some change.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

The One Where I Go Slowly Out Of My Mind Waiting

A brief look at my Snapchat story

A brief look at my Snapchat story

At this point in my Brazil adventure I am on a visa adventure and stuck here in Aurora, Colorado.

It is a long process for an American citizen to get a visa to be allowed to study in Brazil for one year. I will be going on a student visa, something which I do not yet have. There are a lot of restrictions on Brazilian citizens attempting to get visas to come to the United States, and the Brazilian government is not happy about this and are therefore retaliating so there are a lot of restrictions on American citizens attempting to get visas to go to Brazil. You have to have a lot of paperwork, first of all. Everything from recent bank statements to notarized copies of your driver’s license, etc. etc. But the big thing that you must have before you must even start to apply for your visa is a criminal background check from the FBI. It took thirteen weeks for my background check to come back and I finally applied for my visa on Monday. I’m hoping I will leave sometime this month.Photo Aug 06, 2 21 43 PM

It might be a long shot. I still have to get a plane ticket, after all.

Meanwhile, over this past week, I have been packing up my room so it can be all ready to go for when I find out when I have to leave. I’m really excited about this because I’m feeling productive, but it’s also like a slap in the face because I still don’t know when I’m leaving yet. I’m getting my hopes up without a guarantee.

Photo Aug 06, 2 21 45 PMBut don’t worry! My day will come!

Then there’s this other girl, Niki, who is from my district of 5450 who is going to Sweden. She left this past week and I read her blog today and everything seems to be right in her world. I’m also super jealous of her because everything seems to be right in her world. The students going to Brazil were told that they would be the first people to get out, but that is in no way true at this point.

So right now I am packing up my room and putting my winter clothes in storage and taking down posters from my bedroom walls so my sister Paige can put her own posters up while I’m gone. I’m buying summer clothes since they are all on sale right now because I’m going to Photo Aug 06, 2 21 47 PMthe tropics. I’m putting things that I won’t need in college in boxes to put in the basement. It’s kind of a long process and my room looks like a hurricane swept through it, but I really don’t care since at least I’m doing something.

I went out to hang out with some friends last night. That Photo Aug 06, 2 21 50 PMis weird, too, since they are all making the transition to college and I’m doing something that they can’t even imagine. They ask me my plans but all they want to hear is that I’m waiting for my visa and then I will go, but all they want to talk about is how they’re worried that their roommate might be psycho. I understand why they don’t want to hear about Brazil, but it is still a weird and kind of lonely feeling.

Right now, it seems like there is only one person who understands what I am going through, and that is Lydia, one of the other girls from District 5450 who is also going to Brazil. We’ve been sending each other videos and stuff about how we are packing and just waiting.

That’s where I am right now. I’m in limbo.Photo Aug 06, 2 22 18 PM

Rotary Youth Exchange Pins

One of the traditions in RYE (Rotary Youth Exchange) is that each person makes one or several pins that represent their states and countries, and then these pins are exchanged with all the other kids exchanging in Rotary that you meet on your exchange. The pins are displayed on your blazer. Oh, and the blazers are the jacket that each Rotary kid gets. It’s like the symbol of your exchange year, especially when you have a ton of pins on it.

So I made some pins, and then looked up more ideas, but there was like one YouTube video with an idea and all of the other blogs that I looked at basically just mentioned “pins and blazers” in passing. So I thought I would share to the world my pin ideas.

A lot of supplies

A lot of supplies

Some sorting and cutting of ribbons.

Some sorting and cutting of ribbons.

One of the pins involving ribbons and pennies.

One of the pins involving ribbons and pennies.

Pennies overlapping each other with a pin on the back. Very cool, if I do say so myself.

Pennies overlapping each other with a pin on the back. Very cool, if I do say so myself.

A lanyard with red, white, and blue.

A lanyard with red, white, and blue.

Plus this one that I bought.

Plus this one that I bought.

It’s Real

Me and Abi

Me and Abi

I am beyond being super excited right now because I have been Facebook stalking (as I usually do) and I found all of these Rotary Youth Exchange 2015-2016 groups (that’s me!!!) so I just thought I would share since I’ve been trying to be better about posting regularly to my blog.

Hi, world.

I have found a girl, thanks to these groups, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, who is going to District 4500 in Brazil, and is going to live an hour away from Natal, the city that I will be going to. So you betcha that I’m going to meet her in person.

I have been informed that it is really the new exchange students that you meet on your adventure that make the experience. I don’t doubt this at all. Abi, an exchange student with Rotary from Argentina whom we hosted just recently, has amazing friends just because of Rotary. I am more than slightly jealous of her. However, I know that this will be me in a few short months.

It started tonight, when I went Facebook crazy. I have met at least one girl from my district. I have been messaging with a girl who lives in my host district that is the goddaughter of my host mom. Her name is Eduarda, and she is going to Finland with Rotary next year.

It is amazing what technology can do.

Also, the friends don’t start in Brazil. I am friends with so many amazing exchange students that are living here in Colorado. We don’t really connect all that well since I can’t begin to understand their experiences yet. I will soon enough.

There are also the group of kids that have been selected from my district to go on exchange and represent District 5450 of Rotary International Youth Exchange. They are amazing people. I really can’t wait to see where our adventures take us.

But first, I have to get my visa.


Outbound Rotary Exchange Students from District 5450