2023-24 Annalina, outbound to Brazil

Jul 15, 2023

On November 7th I received an email that I made it to the Rotary 6970 district interviews. Now, it is nearing the end of summer and I have the opportunity to study a year abroad in Brazil. To describe the feeling I had when I was accepted into the program is hard to put into words, but I can confidently say that I was extremely overjoyed.

I was assigned a mentor—she is the absolute best—to study Portuguese and talk about what I may experience through my exchange. From February to June, I was scheduling weekly sessions with my mentor, and my Portuguese was excelling quickly! Portuguese seemed to come naturally as I already speak baby Spanish; regardless of the little talk, the basics of Spanish helped tremendously as the languages are somewhat similar. My parents had found a Brazilian restaurant and soon our homemade lunches turned into plates of the most savory Brazilian food. The more I went to the restaurant, the more I understood the cooks behind the counter, the families who waited in line with us, and the little kids who were always screaming in Portuguese. Although I could only pick out a few words, I could piece together the tiny phrases I understood and have an idea of what they were chatting about. I felt very accomplished with the progress I was making. I even created written and online flash cards with my mentor and I continued to move further with my Portuguese as well!

Now it is almost mid July and I hit a rough patch. During my time studying the language and culture of Brazil, it was troubling to see myself away from my family for a whole year. Slowly but surely, reality started to piece itself together and I had found a piece of that puzzle: accepting the fact that I am going to experience something life changing myself. The longest I’ve ever been away from my family was two weeks, and to know I’m going to be away for a year sounds crazy! This month has been a little bit of a struggle, and I have noticed that I’ve been avoiding my studies and been spending more time with my family and involved myself in new activities like yoga, which to my surprise, I throughly enjoy. But, I have been speaking to my mentor recently and she reassured me that it is normal to go through these kind of emotions which made me feel more at peace. Before I spoke to her, however, I was becoming anxious, excited, and even confused. It made me stumble off track. We recently had a study session together and it felt very refreshing to get back on track. She helped me get through a rough spot and with this extra push, I feel motivated to start my studies again. Flash cards really do wonders for me when I study Portuguese! I need to frame and hang them on my walls to show the hard work I’ve accomplished so far to myself. Although my walls would be covered top to bottom, it’ll sure give me another boost of motivation.

A wise man once said in his journal, “Here we are in the present. Why is it called a present? Because every moment is a gift.” That wise man turns out to be my good friend Sam, and what he wrote helped me see that these moments in time is a gift of experience and a learning lesson. Perhaps this quote will stay with me for a while and help me push through these rough patches!

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