Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Take Your Chances

I started this blog quite some time ago, and originally intended to use it as a sort of e-diary for the things I expected to experience in moving to a new country. Obviously, things didn't go quite as planned. Since I started this blog, I have relocated three times. I moved with my family in July of 2012 to Brazil. At the end of August, I returned to the US and spent 4 months living with my grandmother. This January, I returned to Brazil, and I'll stay here until May, when I return once again to the US for school. None of these moves have ended up as I expected them too, and the things I thought I was prepared for were really things that you can't ever be prepared for. I think the reasons behind my blogging failure can attest to what moving to a new country is really like. In short, only one thing is certain. Things never go exactly as you expect, and, even if they do, there are some things you can never prepare yourself for.

As I sit here in my room thinking about the last eight months, I am shocked at how much my family has handled and how much I have changed. Eight months ago, I was a little Michigan girl who knew very little about the world outside her town bubble. Though I have always thought myself independent, I was really a child who relied heavily upon her parents for security.  I think most young adults can point to a single experience or period of growth in their life that brought them out of dependency into independence. I don't claim to be all the way there yet, but I believe that, ten years from now, I will see now as that period of growth. I have moved to a different country, moved home again on my own, applied for college, graduated from high school,  quit my first job, began volunteering at a school here in Brazil, and started learning a new language, all by myself. Of all the things I have done in my life, these months have changed me most.

When I first stepped off the plane in Sao Paulo, I had no clue what I was in for. Living in this country, even living the privileged expatriate life I live here, is nothing like living in the US. When we arrived here, our stuff was three months behind us, in some ocean port somewhere. We lived with the bare necessities in a huge echo-y apartment.  We knew nobody, were unfamiliar with the city, had no clue how to shop when all of the food labels were in Portuguese, and didn't even have a stove. People we had never met reached out to us for no other reason than the fact that, they had been in our shoes before and someone had reached out to them. When your stuff is in the middle of the ocean, you miss the weirdest things. I didn't miss my bed or our TV half as much as I expected. What I missed was our toaster, and a 8x2 baking pan, and my acne medication (which had somehow gotten itself packed in the shipment). People here understood because, when they moved here, they missed their toaster too.

We collected an odd assortment of borrowed items, among them the a fore mentioned  toaster, electrical converters, a baking pan, and a pepper shaker. With each nick-knack, we made a friend. It's amazing how much easier things become when you have people. I think one of the most important lessons I learned through this move is the importance of having people.

When I arrived home again, it was an odd experience. I thought I was going to be jubilant. I was sort of expecting some glorious homecoming. Instead, it was bittersweet. I didn't go back to my old house, I didn't even go back to the same city I'd lived in before. Though it was the US, and 'home,' it was also not the same and another totally new experience. Almost immediately, I missed my family desperately - so desperately it was sometimes painful. The good thing about moving home alone is that I definitely found out who my friends are. It might have been painful, but I learned how to be on my own.

Now that I am back in Brazil, it feels like a vacation. Even though I'm' pretty busy, I am finding a lot of time to just sit by the pool and relax. My mom makes dinner, and I don't have to. She does laundry, too! I am so happy to back with my family, especially my dad, who is my best friend in all the world. I miss my friends a ton, but I'll see them when I go back in May. Now, I'm focusing on spending time with my family while I can.

I am so grateful that we did this - made such a big change. It has truly changed my life and the way I see the world. People tend to shy away from change, but if you the chance to do something that might change the way you look at the world, by all means, do it.


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