College Essay

27Oct10

So here you can kind of get inside my mind.  The more mushy/emotional side of my exchange that I have to send to colleges in 4 days.  Tell me what you think.  NYU material?

I’ve always wanted to be rootless – attach my heart to someplace and other people halfway across the world.  I knew that was the type of person I was, however, I never got to put myself to the test since my family and I moved to the US when I was at a very young age.  I had periods of fascinations with different countries, people, and cultures all throughout my youth.  I dreamed of being an exchange student since middle school.  I didn’t really care where I went at that time, just that I wanted to make myself into a citizen of the world.

I knew that life would still be life; an exchange wasn’t going to be like some adventure-packed movie plot or a year-long vacation.  The expectations and ideas I had about Brazil’s culture, people, and life that lured me to exchange there were partly true.  I expected Brazilian people to be very lighthearted and down to earth.  I expected to eat beans and rice everyday and have a simpler life than I had in the US.  Not only am I appreciating the life I had in the US because of being in an underdeveloped (when compared to Europe, Canada and the US) Latin American country, I’m learning to speak another language fluently and adapt to another lifestyle and culture on its actual motherland.

At times, my life here feels as if it were just a dream rather than a new life happening 6,000 miles away from the comfort zone I grew up in.  Every day, I’m speaking Portuguese as though I were a local, eating barbecued chicken hearts from my host family’s “churrasqueria”, driving by cows and horses wondering freely around my little host city, and seeing the huge mountains of Minas Gerais right outside of my window.  Am I really living in a foreign country?  The realization hasn’t really hit me yet.

There is a humanity here and all over Brazil (including its biggest cities) within the people that you cannot find in Europe or the States.  Many know that Brazil is progressing into an economic world power; however, I don’t see the people becoming colder or the clothes and buildings becoming more lavish.  Brazil is the opposite of Qatar; the progress of the country isn’t silencing the Brazilian peoples’ warm spirit or the beauty and zest of their culture.  During Carnaval, all Brazilians, whether they are from good or bad financial conditions, come together to celebrate an almost never-ending party.  I admire them for being able to maintain such important aspects of what define them as a people, regardless of how rich their country becomes.  There is a lot I can learn from being here and actually becoming Brazilian rather than solely visiting as a tourist. I think this aspect of Latin America is underestimated and misunderstood by many people.

An exchange to any country is a life-changing experience.  Even though study abroad is available in almost every American college, high school exchange remains to be fairly uncommon.  CSIET.org released statistics for the academic year of 2009-2010 comparing the amount of non-American students who exchanged to the US during high school (28,142) and the amount of American students who went abroad during high school (1,980).  Unfortunately, one of the largest barriers many students who would like to do an exchange face is the expensive tuition. However, scholarships, fundraising, and other options are available.

At this moment, I cannot tell you that I’m no longer American, because from day to day, I am still called “gringa”.  But Brazil is becoming my adopted home just as I am becoming an adopted Brazilian.  After just three months of being in this country, I have made great friends and developed a second family which I love deeply.  Even though my exchange is challenging in every way I could have ever imagined, I know I am becoming a stronger, well-rounded, and overall better person from it.  Going on exchange is probably the best decision I’ve made in my life so far.  The only thing I fear is how returning to the US and having to start my old life again will be after splitting my heart in two places, each on two different continents.  But I know I will still be able to feed my hungry world citizen soul at NYU, and probably find a little bit of Brazil in everywhere and everyone I encounter.

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2 Responses to “College Essay”

  1. 1 Irving Thomas

    Dear cousin,

    I loved reading about your experience in Brazil. I can truly relate to your experience as I feel the same about Italy. After living there for 4 years, a large part of me is Italian. The difficulty, however, in moving back to the states is that I don’t get the opportunity to express my Italian self. As frustrating as it is at times, I lean on my beautiful memories of my time there and reach out to my friends there as often as I can, I am sure you will do the same when you return…

    Thanks for sharing. Hope to hear more about your experiences there soon!

    Sincerely,
    Irving

    PS Can you receive packages there? If you can, please send me your mailing address.

  2. 2 Irving Thomas

    And I LOVE your essay!!


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