When boarding the plane to Rio de Janeiro for my College of Engineering Brazil Maymester, I was a little nervous because I didn’t have any friends coming with me. Coming from different backgrounds, stories, and upbringings, the fifteen of us have experienced completely different lives. Despite our differences, we are all here for the same purpose, which has quickly brought us together.
When people are abroad, friendships develop faster than they would at home because everyone automatically goes into the “I need to make new friends” mode which, in turn, makes everyone open, outgoing, and adventurous. My group has been in Brazil together for four days now and it feels as if we have been friends for months. We eat breakfast together every morning at the hotel, and from there, we go on tours around the city, attend presentations, and visit Engineering sites. We spend the entire day together, which gives us plenty of time to truly get to know each other and leave aside any reservations one would normally have when meeting someone in a typical university environment.
From trying to learn Portuguese together, to having to room with the same people for an entire month, studying abroad has taken us out of our comfort zone in many ways. None of us speak Portuguese, so there is a bit of a language barrier when trying to communicate with Brazilians, but with our accumulation of Spanish, French and Latin routes, together we have tried to help each other improve our Portuguese skills. Our mispronunciations, messups, and misinterpreted signals have led to many laughs and inside jokes that have only brought us closer.
So far, I have truly enjoyed getting to know everyone on the program and hearing all of their stories. My initial nerves completely vanished when I realized that studying abroad will bring me lifelong friendships and amazing memories with people that I may have never encountered otherwise.
This post was contributed by Ainara Almeida, a 2019 Global Ambassador. Ainara is majoring in architectural engineering and is studying abroad on the Project Management and Economics Maymester program in Fortaleza, Brazil.
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