With just 3 days until I leave for Brazil, I am every bit of excited, anxious and completely impatient. I have been mentally preparing myself for this trip ever since I made the decision to study abroad in Brazil, a year and a half ago. However, the physical preparation that accompanies my departure has been quite tiresome: shots, packing, and endless checklists. I’m quite frankly over it!
I find some of the “precautions” for Americans traveling to Brazil to be very much stifling. It seems like every single time that I share my upcoming study abroad plans with physicians, family friends or anyone over the age of 30, I find myself being given an imposing lecture on what I should and should not do during my semester abroad. I have heard just about everything from suggestions to sleep with mosquito nets over my bed, avoid the favelas at all costs, wear long-sleeved protective clothing everywhere, avoid ice, raw vegetables, uncooked foods and local delicacies, refrain from walking barefoot anywhere other than a first class hotel and to not be too friendly. As much as I appreciate everyone’s concerns, their “two-cents” have become overwhelming.
Going into this once in a lifetime experience, I have decided that I want to stay true to my personal expectations for this experience as much as possible without compromising my American immune system.
I am expecting my study abroad experience to be as close to an immersion as possible. I want to eat what natives eat, dance the way Brazilians do and enjoy every aspect of the Carioca lifestyle without being too confined to American “precautions”. I am expecting to become nearly fluent in the Portuguese language and make lifelong Brazilian friends. I hope to also spend a lot of time soul-searching through good books and evolving experiences. Most importantly, I hope to return to the United States more self-aware, adaptable and embracing of new ways of thinking.