I wouldn’t say I’m homesick, but my thoughts have definitely turned homeward as Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I think the weirdest part for me about not being home with my family is that I’m out of the loop. I had no idea that my family was traveling to Washington D.C. to visit my relatives over the holiday week until my brother and sister snapchatted me on the airplane.
Some things that I miss:
- My family (that’s obvious). I also miss knowing all the family gossip, so thanks to Grandbob for catching me up.
- Rudy, my dog (or rather, my mom’s dog). I didn’t realize how much I would miss the adorable fluff ball until I started looking for something to cuddle and he wasn’t there. Yes, I have dogs to pet here, but I’m scared that Zeca will turn on me and bite me again, and Caffoo is always shut in the back room smelling faintly of mildew as he never moves. He’s afraid to walk anywhere since he’s blind, and Virna has to drag him outside.
- The food. I miss American food. I’ve gotten used to the food here, yes, but I really miss American food. When I tell people this, they assume that I eat hamburgers and McDonalds every day, but that isn’t true at all. I’ve found it quite hard to explain what American food actually is, because they do have things like spaghetti and pizza and sandwiches here, but it just isn’t the same. Speaking of food, I miss variety. I miss spices. All the meals resemble the same thing, and nobody adds spice, except for an excess of salt, to anything. I’m finally starting to cook but when I went to the store, I quickly realized that they do not have the variety and quality of spices that we do. There were only two or three brands of spices, and about the quarter of the selection.
- Doing school work. I know, you are thinking I’m crazy. But I like learning and it’s quite boring doing nothing all day, and then coming home and doing nothing on the internet. I would like a happy medium. I’m happier now since I got a book in Portuguese and I’m really working on reading it, so I feel like I’m studying again. It also makes me happy since I’m actively trying to learn Portuguese.
- Playing in a band and orchestra. I finally dug my clarinet out of the closet after almost three months of being here (ouch, I know!) and it just made me long for a band to play in all the more. I haven’t been able to find any venue to play the clarinet in. Now that I’ve actually put my lips on the mouthpiece again, it will be easier to keep up as a solo gig, but I love playing in groups.
Some things that I love about Brazil:
- The selection of fruit. I haven’t had an apple since leaving Colorado, and I’m completely fine with this. Instead, I’m eating fresh mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew every day.
- The coffee. I finally figured out how to make coffee that isn’t as strong as the stuff they brew here on a regular basis, but even with that, I’m starting to like strong, black coffee. It also makes me very happy to drink it in the morning with the cute little cups and saucers that my host mom uses.
- Learning a new language. I feel like I’m on top of the world. It’s like my brain is on fire and I’m processing new things every day. I already have plans to study either French or Italian yet, and get the Romance languages under my thumb.
- Public transportation. Last week I took the bus for the first time, and I’ve quickly grown super comfortable with the bus system. I feel like I’ve gained a huge amount of freedom, and that I’m looking more like a local (albeit a local with blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin) since I’m comfortable navigating the bus system.
- Becoming more independent. Since coming here, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and learned how to rely on myself a lot more. Yes, I still have a host family to go to for help, and an organization with a huge support system, but I’m starting to see what living independently can look like. If I can move to a new country and learn a new language without my immediate family right behind me, I can do anything.
4 comments / Add your comment below
That’s a great post. It is a curious feeling, sometimes to not be a part of what’s going on at home — especially the first time that things are happening that you would otherwise be a part of. And on your comment about American food, I was thinking as I read that about how American food is so very different from what it use to be. 25 or 30 years ago I think there was a much more generic version of American food (burgers etc) that doesn’t exist as much now.
I’m glad that you’re getting that independent feeling – there’s nothing like learning to navigate a city. Cities give you such an ability to move around without having to drive – so much easier to have that feeling of independence.
Happy Thanksgiving, Claire. Even though you won’t be having any turkey there, we’ll eat some for you!
I stumbled onto your blog while looking up info about rotary exchange. Love it! Even better insight as a host Mom and Mom whose own daughters plan to study abroad in college. We’re hosting a Turkish 18 year old woman. She’s awesome! She will be with us through mid Jan… Half the school year. She is smart, funny and easy to live with. She has shared quite a few of your sentiments. It’s our first time hosting and niether of my daughters (17 and 20) have studied abroad yet.
Anyhow, just want to say your writing style is refreshing and well written. Enjoy the travel year in Brazil and keep up the blog.
“smelling faintly of mildew” My favorite of your blog posts so far. We miss you too Claire, and will have a lot to share with you on your return. Thanks for making me laugh about the dogs. Rudy is as neurotic as ever, especially since we just returned from being away. He stays firmly within 3 feet of me at all times, and I’ve been tripping over him constantly. Maybe your host mom will let you get a guniea pig?
Cute little saucers? Awesome fruit? Count me in! Great post.