So I’m back in Albuquerque, enjoying the altitude sickness and cold dry air once more. I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in Brazil; what it meant to me, how I got there, and the amazing experiences I had. It wasn’t easy, but it was the best decision of my life.

When I landed in São Paulo, I spoke only the most basic Portuguese; honestly, not even enough to get me a taxi. By the time I left, I was debating philosophy, taking classes, and exploring on my own, all in Portuguese. Getting past my fear of speaking was one of the most rewarding parts of the semester, and gaining a true bilingual skill in the language is something I will always treasure.

I also made a lot of new friends, from all over the world. Living in a city as big and globalized as São Paulo, you will meet people from all walks of life, all countries, all backgrounds. I’m currently in a group chat with people from Colombia, Britain, France, Japan, and yes, Brazil. Everyone has something to offer, and one of the most amazing things is learning about the many ways people live differently from us. Even in the US, you can learn this, but in Brazil, I was taught so much. From cooking to dancing, how to make a costume for Carnaval, and so, so much more.

The university, USP, is also such a fantastic resource and place to be. Whether you want your study abroad to be academically rigorous or kind of chill and more for the experience, the university is one of the best parts of the city. I regret not taking more classes and spending more time there, because it’s one of the things I miss most. The coxinha cart by the library is a must, if you go 🙂

I trust myself more as well. I’m not a very independent person by nature, but after five months of taking public transport alone, renting an apartment in a foreign language, navigating one of the world’s largest cities….I think I’m getting there. And now I know not to mess around with tropical sun- I got burned pretty bad a few times and learned my lesson!

I’m already planning my next trip to Brazil. If anything tells you about what an amazing experience it was, and what a wonderful place it is with truly kind and amazing people, let it be this. I’m going back. Come hell or high water, my heart is still in that vibrant city, and needs a return flight.