I feel less and less like I’m traveling. I’m in a bit of a routine, and it’s really been just day-to-day living. School, lunch, grocery shopping, reading a book on the couch, it’s all very normal. Later, Jess and I went on a walk with some of her friends and we got acai (fruit desserts made with acai). I was happy as a clam because both of her friends spoke English, and I could talk as fast, and as much as I wanted and they both understood! I was even sarcastic and joked around with them a lot, it was like a breath of fresh air feeling like I could be myself and not having to apologize for not speaking in Portuguese.
I would really like to learn the language to speak to my family. I don’t want to make someone else do all the work! I want to meet them halfway and be able to build relationships and friendships with people in their own language. That being said, Portuguese is really hard! I keep trying to explain to people, “I’m not homesick, I’m English sick.” I would honestly stay in Brazil longer if I could get some of the language down because I really do feel like I have a family and people that really care about me here. But I feel like I can’t be myself when I can’t speak in English. I speak and write in English. I process thoughts and feelings in English. I’ve learned that so much of my identity is expressed solely through my use of English. I can’t be sarcastic, or really talkative, or make strange voices, or be the quirky bubbly person I usually am. I will say this though, my Portuguese may not be coming a long but my skills in charades have got to be phenomenal at this point of my journey! I don’t want to complain, and I want to give a positive report on every aspect of my journey, but I also want to be honest, and I want future students who are considering going abroad to a country where they can’t speak the language to be aware of some of the challenges they might be up against.
A final note on day 10, there was going to be a protest going on through much of the country, and I was warned as a U.S. traveler to be aware of this and to stay away from any areas they would be taking place. I read the list of cities that they would be taking place in and didn’t think much about it, as I was safe and sound in Americana and it wasn’t listed on the report. That night, walking back home with Jess and her friend, we saw a lot of police and heard people shouting. Ahead of us was a group of protesters yelling and chanting as they marched down the road towards us. I tried to stay calm, I was aware of the issues they were fighting against and I admire those taking action, but in the night with people shouting loudly in a language you don’t understand, and half of their faces hidden behind white mask, it wasn’t easy to calmly continue to walk home as the group marched past us. It wasn’t late, it wasn’t violent, and we made it home without incident, but I would be lying if I said the experience didn’t get my heart racing a little!