By definition, a family is a group of people related by blood or marriage. So far during this trip though, I have learned that a family can mean so much more. First, family can mean the friends who surround you, make you laugh and with whom you share memories. This past week has meant spending a lot of time with my classmates. As that time continues to pass, the memories created are ones I plan to carry with me wherever I go in life. Between attempting to climb trees, throwing the frisbee around, exploring campus and São Bernardo, or struggling through Portuguese lessons together, laughs are being exchanged and friendships are being strengthened. I have grown closer to this group of students than I ever thought possible. I am sad that our journey together ends after this trip, but I know that we will all remain friends, family, because of our experiences here in Brazil.
Second, professors. I know professors are supposed to be more like mentors than family, but at Roberts, it sometimes seems difficult to separate the two. Dr. Kovach has always been a caring professor, constantly worried about how we are doing and how life is going. Any time I was stressed during the semester, she was the person I wanted to see. She will always greet you with open arms and a smile. Her bubbly personality could brighten anyone’s day. Dr. Starr has a sense of humor I didn’t know existed. He is constantly there to tell a joke or make someone laugh. He wants to get to know all of us, not just those within his travel group. His interest in the culture is inspiring. Julie, oh Queen Julie. Julie is always up for a fun time. She likes to howl in echo-y places. She will make you laugh with her witty comments. Her cultural knowledge is incredible! She has stories from Taiwan, Brazil, China, and so many more. Overall, this group of professors is phenomenal. They are caring, funny, and knowledgeable. I’ve been feeling slightly under the weather so far on the trip, and Julie and Dr. Kovach have made sure I am doing okay, offering me any kind of care I could need, along with love and encouragement. Their kind words and lovely smiles get me through the moments of doubt and frustration.
Finally, our host families. The people who agreed to host random strangers for 15 days. The ones who have taken us in as their own and loved us just the same. It amazes me how close I have become with my host family. Margarida, my host mother, is a lovely human being. She kisses us on the cheek every night before bed. She treats us like daughters, constantly laughing and creating memories with us. In just the short week we’ve been here, she has grown to love Heather and I. Yesterday, to celebrate Mother’s Day, we went to an Indian restaurant owned by Margarida’s sister in the city of São Paulo. The food was incredible, the family members we met were even better. Everyone was so friendly, constantly bringing us more food or offering us various desserts.
After, we walked around São Paulo, looking at various buildings and learning more about the beautiful city we are in. I love this family. I love being a part of this family. I will forever cherish the lessons they have taught me and the memories we have made together. I can hardly believe I have only known them for a week. The love and support they show feels as if we have known each other our whole lives. A week in Brazil has taught me that family is not just blood relations, but instead, family is the group of people who supports you, loves you, and creates eternal memories.