Leaving a Piece of My Heart in Brazil

Written by Brazil Veritas student Kiersten from University of Georgia! To read more of her blogs, visit https://kierstengoestobrazil.wordpress.com. Check out the Brazil program she experienced!



I’m officially past the half-way point of my trip. (EXCUSE ME, WHAT?!) I have no idea how time has flown by so quickly, but here I am in the12th week of my trip.

When I first arrived in Brazil, I set a couple goals for myself, so that I wouldn’t just aimlessly wander around for the semester:

  1. Become proficient in Portuguese
  2. Make Brazil feel like home
  3. Build strong relationships
  4. Meet Jesus in new ways
  5. Learn how to surf

I am well on my way to reaching some of these goals. I can communicate in Portuguese (it’s nothing impressive, but I can get by), I have made some incredible friends, and God has taught me so much already. As far as the other two goals… I am quite far from knowing how to surf, but BRAZIL FEELS LIKE HOME NOW.

When I lived in England during the summer after my freshmen year of college, I left a piece of my heart behind in Hertford. The people, the experiences, and my surroundings became a source of comfort, and a place where I felt like I could always return back and call it home.

I have met a lot of adventurers here in Floripa; people who have been traveling for months by themselves, having incredible experiences while living amongst different cultures, and seeing incredible sights. These are the people that make awesome travel videos, and have actually seen the places that are most likely on your Pinterest travel board.

As I hear about their adventures, one thing always surprises me: I never feel envious. “Why?” you might ask? Because to me, there is nothing quite like making a new place feel like home. This process takes time, but there is nothing quite like it. I am convinced that I could travel around the world and visit all the continents, but nothing compares to a home. I think you can feel comfortable and happy in a place that you visit, but not have a sense of actually being AT home. As they say, “home is where the heart is.” When you have the opportunity to become rooted somewhere, build lasting relationships with people, and actually become comfortable… you leave a part of your heart behind.

It wasn’t until this past week that I realized Florianopolis had become a new home for me. While hanging out after bible study on Thursday, I randomly felt as if I might burst into tears. Being around my new group of friends made me desperately miss my friends and family back in Georgia. Although I was enjoying spending time with my friends, I was missing home badly. However, my heightened emotional state was not just the result of being homesick. The other part of me was hurting just as much knowing that in less than two months, I would have to leave my new friends and return to the States. I realized that despite feeling homesick now, I will feel homesick of Florianopolis when I return to America. Either way, I will be missing loved ones, and experiences that have shaped me. As sad as that is, HOW COOL IS THAT?!


As I bring up my friends from bible study, I feel that it is important to add this: I have never felt more welcomed by any group of people in my life. Their patience with my Portuguese, constantly giving me rides, and just allowing me to be a part of their time together has been an incredible experience for me, and also taught me how easy it is to love someone by simply inviting them to join in, and getting to know them. The International Relations students at UNISUL (the university I attend here) have also done an incredible job of making us feel included and a part of their lives. They’ve taken us on mini-field trips, dinner dates, dancing, soccer games, movies, etc. I love them. Brazilians are incredibly welcoming people, and I hope that I learn from the way that they love on each other. I am sad that I will not have more time to spend with these friends and the other amazing people I have met here. I guess I’ll just have to come back and visit soon 🙂

I would like to share a brief story about how I unintentionally insulted my ride home one day: Typically after bible study, my mental focus is fried. My brain has been working overtime trying to piece together what the people around me are saying, and I am usually just exhausted from the day. A few weeks ago, as my friend Arlindo was packing up his things after bible study, I attempted to ask him if he could bring me home, per usual. As I acted out the motion of using a steering wheel, I think I attempted to use the verb “trazer” and ask, “Arlindo, are you bringing me home?” Instead what came out of my mouth was, “Arlindo… trouxa.” Everyone around me burst into laughter, including Arlindo. Thankfully everyone knew what I was actually trying to ask because of my acting skills. However, I had no idea what I had said.

One of my friends who speaks English told me that I had said an offensive word that is used to describe someone who is very stupid. I will not repeat what the English equivalent to this word is.

This moment has become an ongoing joke in the group, so whenever someone is giving me a ride home, they’ll look at me and say, “trouxa?”

What makes it even funnier is that while I was reading Harry Potter the other day (in portuguese) I realized that the word “trouxa” is also used as the Portuguese word for MUGGLE! So not only did I tell Arlindo that he was stupid… I also called him a Muggle. Not the best way to ask someone to give you a ride home.

I cannot imagine how many of these language blunders I have actually made, but I’m thankful that I have made friends who will still take me home when I unintentionally insult them.

Life over here on the other side of the equator has been full of dancing in the rain from El Nino, trivia nights, chilling with Sea Turtles, finding penguins, gelato, rafting, visiting theme parks, and lots of laughter. Although I wish the sun would come out a little more often, I am very happy, and feel at home now. Studying abroad is the best!

I promise to blog more.

Beijos (kisses),




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