I couldn’t believe it had actually happened. Nate and I were actually lost, just the two of us, in the middle of a big city in a foreign country where we didn’t speak the language. To make matters worse it was getting dark. We couldn’t find our way back home.
That morning our host Eduardo had walked with us from our host home to campus where he works. It was up to us to walk back on our own after class, and we thought we remembered the way from our walk in the morning. Apparently, we were wrong. We ended up missing our turn and walking way past where we were supposed to, only to eventually realize we weren’t going to find our way home. So after walking about half an hour one way we walked half an hour back to campus where we started. At this point it was totally dark, we had walked for an hour, and we were no closer to home. Thankfully we were able to find our professors on campus, who directed us to the people in the international office on campus, who called our host Maria, who called our host Eduardo, who called an Uber and brought us home. That was on our first full day in Brazil.
Fast forward two weeks. I am now walking by myself from our host home to campus with complete confidence. This path has gone from feeling uncertain and intimidating to familiar and even a little comforting. It’s now a familiar routine that makes me feel at home. I recognize and remember all the friendly markers now. The music shop where we cross the street (and where my friend bought a CD), the Feliz Farma where we turn, the dog always out at the end of his fence to greet us, the graffiti words Amor é Revolucionário! (Love is Revolutionary!) that mean we are almost home. It’s like driving home from work: it’s familiar, it’s easy, and it feels like home.
Our struggles walking home sum up our trip. When we all got here we didn’t really know what to expect or what we were doing. It took a little while to get a feel for Brazil with its different culture, its difficult language, its foreign streets. But after being here a while, we’ve come to grow comfortable with this foreign place and its people. It’s come to feel like home. If you had told me two years ago that I would be walking by myself in a foreign city completely confident in myself I wouldn’t have believed you one bit. But now I think I’m finding my way.