A Marvelous & Wearisome First Month in Brazil (written during the beginning of October)

Stanford. New friendships. Inspiring speeches. Learning a new language. More friends. Cultural differences. First signs of fluency in Portuguese. Making a joke in Portuguese! Cultural and language similarities. Host father. Host family. Beautiful beaches. Views. Smells. Unfamiliar food and drinks. Time to think. Downtime….
From each day that I spent in Brazil, I can come up with: something new I learned, a funny story, a memorable highlight of the day, or just another reason to add to be happy with my decision of taking a Gap Year.

This is however only in hindsight. When we think retrospectively, we tend to adjust our memories to how they better fit to us, we tend to forget important details or details we simply chose to forget. This is often good. In this month and some days that I spent here in Brazil, much has happened that I would like to forget. Many things that I would like to push away from my memories by thinking about the moments that made me feel fulfilled and happy. Why would I focus the most precious thing that I own -time- on something I don’t like? Instead of that, I choose to experience, learn from everything that has happened (and sometimes say to myself: sh*t you messed this up!) and think about what I love about my Gap Year. Endless list examples of those are listed in the first paragraph…

We all know that there are downsides to taking a Gap Year. We all know that the time of the cold lonely evening will come, during which we would just lie in our bed, roll the blanket around us and ask ourselves: “Why am I doing this?” This question can make the situation even worse. We can think of so many different places in the world where we could feel better, more comfortable and more welcomed than the one we are currently in; we could think of so many different ways, programs, or countries in which we could have taken a Gap Year.

But then the realization comes. In fact, one of the many. I think, first of all, we need to learn how to live just with ourselves. Now at this time, when I found myself in a completely new place and new people, I am realizing that it is harder to be just alone with the old me. All this is a tough process I want to work on because, if we aren’t satisfied with the situation of being lonely during a cold night in our bed, a half world away from our homes, then we won’t be completely satisfied anywhere.

This sounds a bit depressing. But don’t you worry, I am having a great time here! It is just that I need to get through the process of discovering myself. My values, my standards, my passions and goals for the future. It is tougher than I thought, but I believe that a Gap Year is one of the best ways how to discover those. This is a great thing about taking a Gap Year. “Buying a time” during which one is able to slow down, re-think and at the same time enjoy a new adventure.

This blog post was supposed to be about the pros and cons of my first month here. However, I believe there are many obvious and universal up and downs of a Gap Year, that are very well known.
Some of them are:

  • struggling with a language and being myself
  • living up to the expectations of a program and the family and of yourself at the same time
  • some of them I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph

But I think most of those are highly personal and differ from person to person. How well the Gap Year will end up depends greatly on how many of the, sometimes foolishly high, expectations will be fulfilled and how well one will be able to adapt after she or he will have been thrown into a tumultuous stream, without knowing how to swim.

Good luck! 😊