Adjusting to Life in the USA

It’s not the perfect translation, but it’s the thought that counts. A warm welcome home from my family:

Not exactly the right translation, but it's the thought that counts.

Why is everyone speaking in English? My first gut reaction when dealing with anyone in public places is to start speaking in Portuguese. I’ll walk up to the counter at CVS and say, “Com licença…I mean excuse me,” or “Bom…uh Good Morning!” In Brazil, I always made an effort to speak entirely in Portuguese and it seems that my brain is still in that mindset.

The first couple weeks back were great! I spent time with family and friends, and enjoyed some of the American “luxuries” like air conditioning that I took for granted. People were very happy to see me and asked all sorts of questions. I usually responded, “It was amazing, but I’m glad to be home.”

The attention was great, but hearing some people use the word trip took me aback. In my head, I was yelling, “Trip? I was gone for over six months!” To me, trip is a drastic understatement to describe everything that happened, but I know it’s ridiculous of me to let that bother me even for a second. Not to worry; I was over it the next day. With that being said, I have had a lot of mixed feelings about being back. I am extremely happy to be at home with my family, but it’s hard to explain that Brazil in some ways felt like home too.

I am a little shy with my Portuguese. I wish I wasn’t because I didn’t have this problem in Brazil. There are some moments of gratification when I hear people speaking in Portuguese. Firstly, it makes me feel as though Brazil has in some ways followed me here. It also makes me incredibly happy to reaffirm my belief that there are many Brazilians in the U.S. and that I can understand them! When I respond in Portuguese, the shocked look on their faces is priceless!

For the four weeks that I have between Brazil and Gainesville, I am interning full time at Starmark International, an integrated marketing communications agency. That has kept me quite busy, which eases my transition. There simply isn’t enough time to lament saying goodbye to Brazil.

Me and some fellow Starmarkers promoting Fort Lauderdale and UF:

Right now is the start of Week Four of being back. This marks the point where I have started to miss my friends and boyfriend in Brazil. The elation of being back and seeing everyone has started to fade a little. I am still extremely excited about going back to UF, seeing everyone in Gainesville, and moving back in with my roommates. This motivates me and helps me to focus on my happiness and spending time with family before leaving for UF.

Thankfully, this isn’t the first time I have battled with the tough feelings of leaving a part of my study abroad life behind. When I came back from Spain, I struggled a great deal with readjusting to my life in America. I felt like the “Spain chapter” of my life was cut short. I was devastated because I had formed bonds with people there that I never wanted to break. What took me a long time to figure out was that it didn’t have to ever end. Yes, I was back in the U.S., but that didn’t mean I had to lose contact with the people I cared about or that I could never return. Several years later, I still stay in touch with several of my friends in Spain. It’s not the same, but it’s something. It helps me to remember that I didn’t lose it all by leaving and that I will return someday. Not to mention, South Florida can sometimes feel like a foreign country. There is so much diversity here through the people, culture, restaurants, etc., and I know I can continue to improve my language skills. I see clearly now how moving to Florida had a big influence on my decision to learn Spanish, and later on Portuguese.

Study abroad has inspired me to explore more of my own local area! I recently did the famous art walk at the Wynwood Walls in Miami, FL. The Wynwood District features artists from all over the world.







The last one describes my life well.

The reason I mention my return from Spain in this blog about Brazil is because it has made a huge impact on my life and changed how I might have handled coming back from Brazil. Both were study abroad experiences, and although very different on the surface, still have some things in common and certainly the same ending: I am here and everything and everyone I have come to love in these other countries are miles away.

Given what I’ve learned from my Spain return, I am much better prepared to handle my Brazil return. Much of what I struggled with the first time is not an issue for me now. Despite some hardships that study abroad can cause upon return, I would do it over and over. It is an amazing experience and absolutely worth it. These study abroad experiences have taught me a lot about myself and especially that I have a passion to pursue this style of living. I have always travelled, moved, and longed for more of both. For me, the idea of home is not one location. I carry home with me. It is wherever I feel comfortable, settled, like a local, and at peace. I have called several cities home: Chicago, IL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Gainesville, FL; Santander, Spain; and now, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Each of these places have left a mark on me. I will continue to reflect on them and return to them as well as explore new cities, new countries, new cultures, and new languages. (In case you were curious, after a couple more years of Spanish and Portuguese practice, my next language goal is French!)

Thank you to everyone who helped make this experience happen! I love you all! It has been incredible and I can’t wait to start the next leg of my journey. See you soon UF!

This is my last post, but if you have any questions about study abroad, Brazil or Spain, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Muitos beijos!



2 thoughts on “Adjusting to Life in the USA

  1. Pingback: Adjusting to Life in the USA | Megan Hartnett

  2. Pingback: Adjusting to Life in the USA | Megan Hartnett

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