Friday, 27 January 2017


During the first week of December I switched host families for the first time during my exchange. I moved across my city to, coincidentally, Jardim Canada ("Canada" neighbourhood). Because I was now on break from school, my class had a churrasco (barbecue). Everyone in my class went, including teachers. We all ate, listened to music, played pool and swam. December in Brazil was very different from what I was used to. It was between 30-35 degrees everyday, and there weren't many Christmas decorations up. The streets weren't filled with lights or wreaths and not many people put lights or decorations up in or outside of their homes. Stores didn't play Christmas music and there just wasn't a lot of Christmas spirit. For me it felt really strange. But as Christmas got closer and closer, the city got a little bit more festive. My friend from Monte Alto, Lisa, came to visit for a few days which was nice. She is from Japan and has been in Brazil for the name amount of time as me. We went out for açai, and went to a Christmas concert. The trees in the praça were lit up and there was even a "Santa's cabin" where you could visit Santa and get a picture. I helped my host families put their Christmas trees up and decorate them too. I wanted to share some of my Christmas traditions with my friends and families so I showed them how to make sugar cookies. They turned out really well and my friends loved them! We spent the night baking and listening to Christmas music. During one weekend I went biking with my friend, Bianca, and her family. Unlike Sarnia, this region has a ton of hills so it was quite a workout. We biked by a lot of sugar cane and soy plantations and I got to try some fresh sugar cane. We also saw four toucans which I thought was really really cool. They were really beautiful and I didn't believe my friend's dad when he said "Oh look, toucans!". That day we ended up biking 30km. The next day my host family and I went to a car show in Orlandia. There were so many Volkswagen Beetles! This year I celebrated Christmas very differently. In Brazil, Christmas Eve is celebrated as our Christmas Day. We spent Christmas Eve at my host grandparents. There we had dinner. There was a lot of different foods. There was pork, two types of farofa (a toasted cassava flour mixture), sweet and salty, and many desserts. Many desserts that I had never tried before. At midnight, we opened our presents and then went home. The next day, Christmas day, we went to one of my host aunt's and spent the afternoon in the pool and eating. I also went to my friend's Christmas celebration. All in all, I really enjoyed my Brazilian Christmas. It was very different in some ways but in other ways it was practically the same. Spending time with family, relaxing and eating. For the New Year my host family and I went to Serra da Cantareira which is a Brazilian mountain range to the north of the city of Sao Paulo. It was very beautiful! The temperatures were a lot cooler than Sao Joaquim da Barra, the area was very calm and everything was green. On New Years Eve everyone wore either white or a light colour to bring in the New Year on a fresh and positive note.

New host family!
Host mom, Margo, and I
The infamous pink staircase that leads to my bed 
New dog, Tequila
My class and teachers (at the end of segundo ano which is the second last year of high school)
Christmas concert
At an outdoor concert in the praça
Santa's cabin
Christmas lights
Our little Christmas tree!
Huge Christmas tree at the mall in Ribeirao Preto
One of the band members and I holding the state of Sao Paulo flag
Taught my friend, Bianca, how to bake sugar cookies
Made more sugar cookies for my host family!
Sugar cane

Car show in Orlandia

Tereré (an infusion of yerba mate prepared with cold water... VERY bitter)
First host family and I 
Fred, my first family's dog
Christmas dinner
Lots of desserts
"Creme de milho" a dessert that is a paste made from corn
Christmas Eve! 
Christmas Day... Feliz Natal!
More açai! My favourite with nutella, strawberries and leite ninho
A favela seen on our way to Sao Paulo
We found a maple tree!! Feliz ano novo! 

Thursday, 12 January 2017


To start off the month of November, I went on my first exchange trip. Myself and 27 other exchange students travelled from Sao Paulo to Pantanal and Bonito. This trip was one of the best experiences of my life, and definitely one of the top highlights of my exchange. The trip started off with a 15 hour long bus ride. The busses were really nice. They had a lot of space, water and were air conditioned. The 15 hours gave everyone a lot of time to get to know each other. We played uno, talked, ate and watched movies together. Uno was a lot more complicated than you would think. I had no idea there were so many different rules around the world. For example, in Czech Republic, if someone plays a 9 everyone has to put their hand on the card and the last person to do so has to pick up 2 cards. That being said, it took more time explaining all of the rules to everyone than actually playing. Although the bus ride was really long, the scenery was beautiful. The sky was blue with fluffy clouds, and everything else was so green. Everything looked really alive. Lots of hills, forests, crops and free roaming cows. Pantanal is the world's largest tropical wetland. It covers parts of: Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul (Brazilian states), Paraguay and Bolivia. It is home to 3500 known plant species, 1000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptile species and over 9000 different subspecies of invertebrates. In Pantanal, we stayed at a farm for 3 days. We went on a two safaris, walking and in a truck, went horseback riding, piranha fishing and camped out one night. Between activities everyone hungout in the pool, game room or hammocks. After the 3 days we set off to Bonito. Bonito is a small city in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. What makes the city special is its ecology and natural environment. We spent 6 days in Bonito doing lots of tours. We went rafting, snorkelling, zip lining, tubing, visited a local school, held snakes, swam under waterfalls and went to the Blue Lagoon. This was honestly one of my favourite weeks of exchange. Spending it with exchange students from all around the world, sharing all of our stories- good and bad, and just having fun. During that trip I made amazing friends and it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye. During the rest of November I attended school, went out for açai with friends, and participated in the Catholic practice, Novena. Novena is a tradition that only certain churches hold. For nine days my family and I went to mass for 1 hour at at 5:30am. The tradition celebrates Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
On the bus!
View from the pool 
Horseback riding!
Piranha fishing
Jacaré (alligator)
Lucie (France), Sophie and Sarah (Denmark)
Armadillo at the farm

Holding an Olympic torch
Getting ready to go snorkelling
Chiau (Taiwan) and Sarah (Denmark)
Climbing through trees 15m in the air!
Carina (Canada) and I
Sophie (Denmark), Lucie (France), Carina (Canada), Nath (Brazil), Sarah (Denmark), Tilman (Germany), Joana (Germany), Morgan (USA), Ben (USA), Bailey (Australia)

Enjoying the tub of ice cream that we bought
Finely (USA), Lucie (France), Isa (Mexico), Sarah (Denmark), Genelise (USA), Chiau (Taiwan), Carina (Canada)
Gruta do Lago Azul (Blue Lagoon) 
How the light enters the caves causes the water to appear so blue. This picture wasn't edited or anything. It was truly breathtaking!
The group!! 
First host mom and I celebrating my "4 months in Brazil"