Settling In

In a beautiful, yet difficult way to express, coming back to Brasil was a lot like coming home.  I have yet to feel the gut wrenching homesickness that I felt when I arrived the first time, I have yet to feel completely out of place, and because of my coETA I have yet to feel alone.  That isn’t to say that there haven’t been difficulties and adjustments, but that my time here has seemed to flow more quickly into normality than before.


Leaving home for a long period of time is always hard.  I feel like saying goodbye to my parents will always bring tears, but in the way I traveled this time, I haven’t had too much time to dwell on those feelings.  Whether the lack of emotional processing time is good or bad, only time will tell.


A little over two weeks ago, I left home and made the decision to have an 18 hour layover in D.C. so that I could say goodbye to the friends I had made while living there the past two years.  There is something beautiful about slowly throwing yourself into something new.  If saying goodbye to my parents left me in tears, being reunited with the very people that had kept me sane while I was away from home and learning to teach, brought me great joy.  Saying goodbye to them was a little easier, but only because every goodbye is easier when it isn’t one of the five people that shared every success, failure, and every bad attitude until I was an adult.  From there I found myself on a plane to Rio.


One could describe me as an Extrovert, the Myers-Briggs test did. One could also point out the likeness to my father—talk to everyone, leave no stone unturned, learn that you were neighbors with their cousins, perhaps trade numbers, move on.  When I sat next to a woman on my first flight and we had a seat in between, I envisioned sleeping a bit and reading a few books.  It wasn’t until a few minutes later when me, with the inability to plug in my earphones, and her, unable to figure out how to put the earphones on, came to the realization that we both spoke Portuguese and the rest was history.  She is a high school teacher in the Rio metropolitan area, we are both big travelers, and by the time we were on our next flight to Rio from Bogotá, I had talked to her fiancée on the phone, I had her number, and I left my empty row of seats to sit next to her with an empty seat in between so that we could continue enjoying each others’ company.


Stepping foot into Rio was like coming home.  Rio itself was nothing like home, but being surrounded by Portuguese, café, and pão de queijo along with all of those smells, took me back to my life in Brazil 6 years earlier.  The heat always hits me first and then as I get used to it, I find myself ready to enjoy the day.  Coming from the land of winter, I was glad that this time it didn’t make me sick for a couple days.  I found a friend from the U.S. who was meeting me in Rio and we went through the process of getting to where we were going to stay.


I think vacationing around Rio for a bit and then Foz de Iguaçu and then orientation in São Paulo helped my mind stay on task and my heart from feeling homesick.  Now that I am settled/in the process of settling in BH, everything is new once again and there isn’t much time to dwell on the U.S. or think about the things I am missing.  Next week will have Carnaval and hopefully a visit from my sister and the week after that will be the start of my new role at the University.  All of these things take a lot of energy and are distracting and I feel like I might just skip homesickness altogether.  I’m not saying that it is healthy or right, and maybe I’m just getting older and am used to being away from home, but this move has gone much smoother and been less emotional than the first time I found myself stepping off a plane into the unknown awaiting me in Brazil.