Two weeks ago yesterday, I was in the Rio international airport saying tearful goodbyes to some of my closest friends in Brazil. I probably looked pretty pitiful to the airport security as I was still sniffling taking out my laptop and liquids for the x-ray belt. Unfortunately, the goodbyes didn’t start there but had been a slow, painful process for the past month.
I was one of the last exchange students to leave Brazil so I attended many “last” dinners and beach days. Everyone had different ways of saying goodbye to Rio and Brazil. Some people just enjoyed their normal routines of Rio life while others made sure to make every hour of those last nights count at Lapa. Others, like me, tried to both finish up last minute bucket list items, soak up the rare winter beach days as well as do all the souvenir shopping we had put off for the past six months. Our goodbyes amongst ourselves weren’t as difficult because we relied on the hope that we would meet up somewhere in the States, a mini Rio reunion.
Other goodbyes hurt a little more as I closed the doors on some real fun opportunities. I said “tchau” to the school where I taught English and the fifty kids that had both made
me laugh and go a little crazy. The staff there always made us feel welcome and appreciated and I was grateful to have been able to volunteer under them. I also said goodbye to the two amazing ladies I worked with at the Museu da Maré, an awesome little-known community museum where I had the chance to do some Portuguese-English translations. If you’re ever in Rio, make a trip out to that museum because you won’t regret it. Leaving these places made me grateful of the time that I spent with them, learning and growing in Portuguese and relationships in Rio.
My host mom and her grandson was another tearful parting. Because of the overlap, I actually met her new exchange student and lived with her for about a week. It was a little strange knowing that I wouldn’t be her only American daughter anymore and that the room I spent the last six months in making my own, was someone else’s now. That home was just one of the many things I felt blessed to have during my time in Rio. I loved having someone to talk to when I came home and share the day with. I was able to relieve some of the sadness of being away from my own nephew by playing and laughing with my little host nephew. It is difficult to make a place feel like home after such a short time, but I consider it one of my “homes” now.
And my last goodbyes were to the dear Brazilian friends I made over the short period of six months. I can’t imagine my study abroad without them a part of it now and owe it to them for many of the great memories I have of Rio. I met most of them through the church I attended near my house. They graciously helped me out with my Portuguese (with only a little bit of laughter), took me to amazing places and restaurants around the city, and let me ask millions of questions ranging from soccer to politics to best açai places.
But these goodbyes were different as well, they were more of an “até logo” or “see you soon.” I know I will be back in the future and these friendships are ones that will continue until then. And I have a strong feeling that I may end up back in Rio after graduation (who knows?). My time in Brazil isn’t over yet.
Goodbye to all the people who have kept up with me over these past six months on my blog. I hope that my posts will aid some future Rio exchange student and if you are trying to decide right now whether to study in São Paulo or Rio, choose Rio;)