Friday, June 15, 2012

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6/14/12 I’ve been back in the United States for almost a week now and at times it still feels a little surreal. When my plane touched down in Miami, I was so relieved to hear English everywhere I went, but I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed with the lack of Portuguese around me because it just made it that much more evident that I had left Brazil. This really surprised me because one of the biggest things I was excited about was being surrounded by people I could understand again. I decided to acclimate carefully by not immediately rushing home; I’ve been staying with family in Fargo since my arrival in North Dakota. There is lots of activity, noise, people, screaming children, etc. here which I thought would be a good transition for me; that way I wouldn’t be going from so much activity immediately to a quiet, lonely apartment. I like to have my space but I definitely need people around me because I can get lonely far too easily. One of the biggest challenges I faced my first few days back was actually speaking English. For how little Portuguese I actually picked up on during my three weeks in Brazil, my brain sure doesn’t want to get go of it! Everywhere I go I keep wanting to say “licença,” “desculpe,” “obrigada,” “onde esta…?” My first day back I actually bumped into somebody at the store and said “desculpe;” I got a really confused stare in return. Also, I tried asking my two-year-old niece, “Onde esta sua mae?” …Needless to say she did NOT answer me. I’m finding myself missing Brazil in an unspeakable way. I miss the way time seems to stand still while soaking in the sunshine on the veranda of the house. I miss the commotion and the way people would drop by without calling first. I get a taste of that here at my cousin’s house; her sisters pop on in without a word, and it makes me smile thinking about the similarities but also makes that homesick feeling that much stronger. I even miss the food – I thought that would be the one thing I wouldn’t be sad to leave because I missed my familiar foods, but lately my body has NOT been pleased with the things I’ve been eating. I must be subconsciously making up for “lost time” or something; my brain is saying “yes” to all the junk I keep putting in my mouth but my body is screaming “NO!” A funny thing happened today while I was shopping at Bath and Body Works. I smelled some lemon-scented lotion that smelled EXACTLY like Dona Helena’s lemongrass tea… I bought two bottles AND a bottle of body wash. PROBABLY wasn't necessary. The biggest thing I think I miss about Brazil is the incredibly friendly disposition of the Xukuru people. Here, the people are such perfect Midwesterners: there is a practiced and perfected “polite stand-off-ishness.” It’s really hard to explain what I mean; I think one would already have to know what I’m saying to totally understand. Everyone here wears a smile and practices good manners (for the most part), yet there’s something about it that is just so fake. Who knows, maybe I'm just reading too much into it. There is a warm exterior surrounding most people but the warmth is not genuine; I didn’t notice this before – it took a trip across the world to fully realize the façade most people here have perfected. I’m sure by no time at all I’ll get back into the swing of things and re-master my perfected “polite smile,” but it’s definitely going to take longer than a week. -Shayla

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