Well it's a year after our backpacking adventure to Europe, and now I face a very different environment and culture. From the moment I stepped off the plane and experienced intense heat, the fast-talking Portuguese language, and the bugs literally the size of your palm... I knew I could only be in the country of Brazil! I have been here before many times with my dad, who is an Anthropology professor that runs this study abroad program every year, but this is the first time I will be living with a home stay, taking classes, and being thrust head first into the Brazilian culture for the next three months.
Yesterday, right before we left to the airport, I'll admit I was a bit terrified of the thought of living with another family while being submersed in a completely different culture for such a long period of time. However, as soon as we arrived at the airport excitement started building up more and more, partly because my good friend since the 6th grade, Mary Alice, was on the program with me!
Funny things started happening right away, like when News Channel 5 came up to ask us our thoughts about a woman who sued South West for arresting her after she refused to turn her cell phone off. Another student on the trip, Neil, and I both got on the news that night! Whoop whoop, I got a super important one-liner on the video clip that pretty much stated the obvious. But the best part was I got to show off my phone to all of Nashville.
Then once on the actual plane to Sao Paulo, Brazil (after turning off my cell phone, of course)... I was faced with a decision that has been haunting me for the past week. Bolt or Slum Dog Millionaire, which one to watch for the six hour flight? My mind was tormented until I finally decided to watch both, as well as Marley and Me, and not sleep at all. This was probably the worse decision I could have made, not only because Marley and Me made me cry like a baby in front of concerned flight attendants, but also because lack of sleep for me means a VERY distracted mind... which might not be the best preparation for arriving in a foreign country.
However, Slum Dog Millionaire ended up actually being a pretty good alternative for preparation! The poverty shown in that movie was fairly accurate to what I was about to be seeing
for the next three months. Although I have seen it before, coming back at an age where I can actually understand what is going on is definitely going to be a culture shock.
While I forced my eyes to stay open to finish Slum Dog, Mary Alice slept like a baby through breakfast. The flight attendant accidentally dropped a hot roll on her lap at one point. I thought
about leaving it there as a nice surprise breakfast in bed when she woke up, but I decided we had had enough trickster attitude from the attendant, who earlier was convinced I was Brazilian. When we told him I wasn't, he told us he was actually Irish and said "Good-day Lad" in the most Brazilian accent imaginable. The sad part was that it took Mary Alice and I a couple minutes to realize he was joking. Oh good ol' Brazilian humor... we must get use to it.
Another thing that might take some getting use to is finally arriving at the Forteleza airport and being greeted with dozens of flight attendants with face masks on. Once we saw this we all thought the presents we were about to bring back all our friends and family was a nice case of Swine Flu! Lucky for us, they were just taking precautions. And as I just wrote that last sentence I coughed... oh my...