As I sit here writing this, it is a bit strange. As I approach the end of my time in Brazil, I feel somewhat torn. I have grown more and more accustomed to life in a new country. A country with a totally different language, culture, city landscape, political spectrum, different problems, advantages and way better food. When I arrived to Brazil a bit more than 4 months ago, I was so uncertain of what I was getting myself into. Nevertheless I still wasn’t expecting just how different life would be.
And I will be honest, sometimes my expectations were unrealistic, or just straight up wrong. (We’ve all been there, right?)
So, I am not going to lie to you and say that people didn’t tell me that Brasil isn’t dangerous. (More importantly Brazilians told me this.)
I am not going to lie to you and say that I am that great at Portuguese. (I’m good for 4 months, but to become confident in a language usually takes about a year of practice, depending on the difficulty of the language.)
I am not going to lie to you and tell you that being abroad wasn’t or isn’t difficult.
I am not going to tell you that I never cried during my time abroad.
What I am going to tell you is that being away from your perceived home for a long time is probably one of the best things that you can do for yourself.
You are forced to understand who you are. Being in a familiar setting allows one to live in a way where certain things are on autopilot. We are more comfortable because we are around things that are familiar to us. For me, sometimes I didn’t really know what things were actually important to me. I was so used to the comfort of my own life that I didn’t have to question what was important. Comfort sometimes can equal complacency.
When we are away from familiarity and things that are familiar for long periods of time, we end up longing for or desiring for those things that seem so distant. Our priorities in life become obvious because sometimes we don’t have them while abroad.
This phenomenon applies to human relationships as well and can be paraphrased in the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” We long for what we don’t have. And sometimes in order to realize what our priorities are, we need to be put in a totally new environment, where we don’t have those very things we long for.
I am not going to tell you that I am happier in Brasil. I am not going to tell you that I am enjoying life here more. I am not going to tell you that I don’t miss my friends, my family or the life that I live in the U.S. I will tell you that happiness isn’t just a destination. I think part of happiness just involves seeing the positives in each day, and doing what you can in the moment to improve yourself, as well as others. Through this mentality I have become much more open minded and less self-pitying. I have spontaneously met a lot of new people and made some amazing friends along the way, which has undoubtedly made my time here in Brasil all the better.
Overall, what I am going to tell you is that I have become more accustomed to adjusting my life to change. Living my life one day at a time is something that I do now, because I have to. When I realized that my commute to and from work each day would be 3-4 hours via omnibus and Metro/Subway and then walking, I wasn’t thrilled. When I realized that I was losing money instead of making money, I wasn’t thrilled. When I realized how much damn effort (and more importantly, time) it takes to REALLY learn a language, I wasn’t thrilled. When I realized that Portuguese is perhaps the most difficult latin language to learn (besides French), I wasn’t thrilled. When I REALLY realized just how dangerous life can be here, I wasn’t thrilled. (Last facebook post 🙂 ) When I was judged or used by others because I was an American/gringo/foreigner, I wasn’t thrilled.
I wasn’t thrilled. But as time went on and all my expectations were flipped over on their head, I wasn’t as perturbed.
I got used to change.
I also came to a realization.
Humanity’s ability to change is so powerful. It absolutely riveting. It’s in our nature, and perhaps in all nature in general. Cough Cough* evolution.
I know that when I return to the U.S. in about 6 weeks, I will be adjusting to a huge amount of change. Just as I have formerly been accustomed to life and living in the U.S., I have become adjusted and accustomed to living in Brasil after more than 4 months and then some….
I guess one thing I want to say is that while change is difficult, it can and probably is a good thing. Change provides newness: new advantages and new disadvantages. And while we may fail at first to adjust to these new advantages and disadvantages, we can and often do learn how to live and cope with those advantages and disadvantages.
We become more acclimated to dealing with new problems, finding new solutions and understanding who we are along the way. I think we learn about ourselves the most when we need to change. It can be a painful process and sometimes we need to question what certain aspects within ourselves are causing pain, discomfort, or unwillingness to change. When we are able to pinpoint the cause, we have an opportunity to crush that weakness, or insecurity and become better people. 🙂
We’ve all heard about how going abroad “changes you.” I would agree with that, but I think theres more to it. If you slapped me down in a different area of the world and just said “change”, it might not happen. Change doesn’t just happen. Change happens when you adjust your mindset, expectations, lifestyle, and habits in order to be able to live in a way that gives you more of whatever you are needing or wanting. Change requires you to constantly struggle against yourself to set the bar higher.
The crazy thing about change is that it’s a daily thing. Living one day at a time all the sudden makes a lot more sense. Take that, anxiety.