The first meal I ordered in Portuguese

As my mother always says “Maggie is such a social butterfly, she could spend a whole day talking to a wall and not get bored.” For someone who loves to socialize, who would have thought having a conversation would be so scary? I thought it would be easy until I found myself lost in the midst of a beautiful language I barely understood. Lucky for me I found the humor in the situation, literally. Right from my first morning in Brazil, my roommate and I had the opportunity to meet a friend of our host mother, who took us to school. Although he spoke English much better than either of us could speak Portuguese, having a conversation that made sense on both ends was interesting, to say the least!

Our beautiful host mom who has been more than helpful in helping with our Portuguese!

Despite that we were able to learn about our new friend and talk about New York, the biggest thing I got out of our conversation was the joy and laughter that occurred as a result. Instead of focusing on the nuances of the language and trying to get everything right, we laughed our way through our communication, creating an unspoken bond. Struggling to understand every other word was not an issue, as we all quickly saw the humor in the situation. Just within this experience I have learned that this trip is not about being perfect. It is about trying your best and finding the joy in every situation, no matter how difficult or impossible it may seem.

I have never laughed as hard as I did in the car with Lourdes and our new friend, and I am forever grateful for such an opportunity. While we did not understand 65% of what each other was saying, we were able to laugh at ourselves and form the unique beginnings of a relationship through our humorous interaction. Taking chances is one thing, but being able to laugh at yourself when you mess up, is completely different. This experience has taught me that nobody is perfect, and all that matters is that I try my best and find the light in the midst of confusion or uncertainty. Even though we have only been in Brazil for about a day, I have quickly found that although the language barrier can be scary and intimidating, when all else fails… laugh!

Categories: Brazil 2019


Amy Kovach · May 16, 2019 at 1:18 am


I can hear your laughter (I love your laugh) and I can imagine the conversation in the car. Imperfect moments create the most growth and bring great joy—-keep speaking and keep laughing!

<3 Dr. Kovach

Lynn Mack · May 16, 2019 at 2:32 am

What an amazing adventure you are on!
I am so happy and excited for you! Keep laughing and smiling and soak it all in baby girl!!

Tom Mack · May 16, 2019 at 2:36 am

Very insightful, Maggie. As we always say, “you gotta laugh!” One day in, and you are already learning lessons that will benefit you for a lifetime. So proud of you, and your classmates, for stepping outside your comfort zone to explore the world around us. Keep singing your song, honey. It sounds beautiful! Love you!

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