I cheated. I was in the Brazil in May with UMass, we were in the Amazon, going up and down the two main rivers, the Rio Negro and Rio Solomões. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had, I didn’t want to leave at the end of the two weeks, and I was so excited to come back for my entire fall semester.
Getting ready to depart was a struggle, the hardest part was the visa process. Bureaucracy is not my friend and on several occasions other road blocks questioned my ability to go to Brazil. The government makes it a challenge to obtain a visas, you need the application, passport photos, a background check (in NY it needs to be done by our lovely FBI, which works on its own obscure schedule) and a few other documents. Be nice to everyone you have to deal with, because they can delay your visa if they want too, then vented later with friends. But don’t worry the visa is the most difficult part, after my visa was done I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.
Now onto the more important stuff: packing and shopping! My mom’s credit card took a big hit during my preparing shopping. Clothes, shoes, bags, toiletries, a new blow-dryer, guide books, random accessories and lots of chewing gum. Items that are very common in the U.S., or items made in the U.S. that we need for everyday uses, blow-dryers are expensive in Brazil, for some reasons, so bring what you need with you! You can always buy clothes here, but items like hair products are usually difficult to find and expensive.
I tried to learn some Portuguese before I left, while some people took classes in college or tutors, I listened to conversations, wandering around Portuguese Newark and going to some restaurants, it really helped. A few simple words will get you really far.
My friends and I went out the night before I left, we hit New York City, and left no prisoners. The week before, my family and I were down in Seaside Park, N.J., far from Snooki, working on my base tan preparing for the normal fall days in 80 degrees Fahrenheit and normal spring days of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The day of departure, my parents pilled in the car with my huge suitcase, a soccer duffle bag and my super cute Bugs Bunny backpack. After struggling through the airport, I said goodbye to my family, a small tear might have escaped, my mom cried, she’s so sweet. We had a last coffee for luck, and I bravery left the security of the U.S., and I did not looked back.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi, my name is Claire Anderson and I am a senior majoring in Journalism and International Relations at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I spend most of my time writing for the school paper, pressuring my friends into adventures, laughing a little too loudly, spontaneous dance parties, making random conversation and playing soccer. I have been outside of the country several times, including to Manus, Brazil, but this will be the first time I will be away from the safety and insanity of my friends and comfort zone of NYC for an extended period of time, but I am so excited for the adventure and ready to jump in with both feet forward.</span></p>