All in Brazil

I opened my eyes when I started to connect with the Afro-Brazilian community. Many of our political problems are similar in terms of lack of representation; however, economically, African-American and Afro-Brazilian communities are eons apart. Brazilians will openly admit that discrimination does occur, but on the basis of class, however, they forget to mention that the majority of Afro-Brazilians happen to be of the lowest socio-economic status.

Learn Not to Compare, but to Observe and Accept

The most important lesson that I have learned in my first week of studying abroad is to learn not to compare, but to observe and accept. In the first few days of my arrival in Rio de Janeiro, I found myself constantly comparing Brazilian customs, traditions, stores, and foods to concepts that we practice in the United States; however, I learned that comparisons take away from my learning experience.

I am expecting my study abroad experience to be as close to an immersion as possible. I want to eat what natives eat, dance the way Brazilians do and enjoy every aspect of the Carioca lifestyle without being too confined to American “precautions”. I am expecting to become nearly fluent in the Portuguese language and make lifelong Brazilian friends. I hope to also spend a lot of time soul-searching through good books and evolving experiences. Most importantly, I hope to return to the United States more self-aware, adaptable and embracing of new ways of thinking.

By Lauren Ruffin