Tuesday, February 16, 2016

500 Days of Rio

Today officially marks 500 Days of Rio.

Not 500 days in Rio because, you know, I went on vacation to the States (and Honduras and Taiwan). But it's been 500 days since I've moved to Rio.

Do you know what you can learn in 500 days? Do you know what you can do in 500 days?

You learn Portuguese, but more so, you learn how to play a mean game of charades. You learn your favorite spots to watch a sunset and your favorite barracas on the beach. You learn the best flavors of caipirinhas and whether or not you need to order them with sugar. You learn if you prefer cachaça or vodka or maybe even sake.  You learn to always flush your toilet paper. You learn to never let your fingers touch your food unless you want to be on the receiving end of a Brazilian mean mug. You learn to brush your teeth after lunch because it's proper dental hygiene. You learn how to type on a Brazilian keyboard without messing up and how to type ç, ã, and â (or any other vowel) without looking up the codes. You learn how to get flight upgrades and which days are the best for traveling. You learn how to make new friends and how to create your own family. You learn different ways to keep in touch with the friends and family that you left in the States.

You can laugh with fourth graders, you can cry because of fourth graders. You can do experiments and create tests. You can have Science Fairs and Timed Tests. You can attend meetings-- both with parents and with other staff. You can celebrate birthdays, you can celebrate Carnaval. You can send the students you met in their first year of elementary school off to their last year of elementary school. You can choose your favorite beach and spend every sunny weekend there. You can visit the Sugarloaf, and the Christ Statue, and the steps in Lapa. You can eat pizza, you can eat feijoada. You can travel to some of the most beautiful beaches that you have ever seen. You can see dolphins and sea turtles all in the same day. You can hang glide and you can paraglide.

In 500 days of Rio, I've had good days and I've had bad days. Luckily, I've had more good days than bad days. I've become more independent while simultaneously more dependent on my friends and family who I have left in other countries. I've been more adventurous, but also more of a homebody. After 500 days of Rio, I've finally started to find my place here.

It hasn't always been easy. But after 500 days of Rio, I can wholeheartedly say that it's been worth it.

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