It was nearing midnight. The birthday party was finishing it’s 5th hour — who knows how much longer it had left to go — but preparations had begun much earlier that day, and my body was beginning to feel its toll. I was running on 2 and a half hours of sleep from going out the night before, but I stayed present at the party to practice my Portuguese with the guests and spend as much time as possible with my family. I only have about a week left. I don’t like to think about it, I know I will miss Brazil and my host family too much.
It’s funny, I thought, how just when you’re finally really immersed, really speaking Portuguese, really part of your -host- family, really loving and living in Brazil in the last month, GCY rolls up its sleeves to knock on your door, more than eager to pull you away from everything you’ve come to call home and drop you back into the USA to share your story, go into college with direction, be a global citizen in a country that doesn’t even want to be one itself.
But at the same time, I realized it was about time to go back. The excitement of my return is plain to see on the faces of my family and friends when we FaceTime or Snapchat. It’s something I didn’t really expect, honestly. Before I left for Brazil, I spoke with others who had also lived abroad, so I came into my bridge year expecting that when I return, no one will really care to hear my stories because they won’t be able to relate or understand everything that I’ve gone through in Brazil. Things would just return to normal, but I’d be a completely different person. We’ll see if that’s true.
But some part of me is excited, too. Excited to share brigadeiros and pastels, photos and stories, a new perspective on life, and Brazilian Funk. I’m excited to go home with new skills and new hobbies and a new language. I’m excited to find and make Brazilian friends back home. And I’m excited to go to the doctor, get new glasses, go back to my job, maybe get my driver’s license. I’ve got a whole list of things to I need to do. Adult things I need to do. And I’m excited.
But I’m also heart broken. The guests at the party asked if I felt saudades for lá, if I missed home and was eager to go back. I said no, not really, and my grandmother smiled and jumped in with her soft and slightly slurred Portuguese, “she really likes it here, she wants to stay”. I do. I told her that when she came back from a weeklong trip to her old house upstate. I missed her while she was gone, even though I still had my mom, my brother, my stepdad, and my step brother in the house. I miss them all already. I have saudades for Brazil and my family here, but I haven’t even left yet.
I’m tearing up as I write this. I wasn’t homesick for the US because I knew it would always be there for me, that 7, 8 months after my departure, it would still be there for me to come back to. My parents would take me in again, my siblings would still be going to my highschool, my friends would be in town back from college for the summer.
But I already miss Brazil so much because I don’t know when I’ll come back. I don’t know if I’ll be able to study abroad in Brazil during college. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a job that takes me back to Brazil. I don’t know when I’ll have enough money saved up to come back and visit my family — or come back to stay and start my own family. I have to go back to my old life, and my family here will keep on in their routine that I have steadily become accustomed to–become a part of– and that I want to keep for a longer while.
The guests raised their eyebrows, mesmo?? Really?? I loved Brazil that much? Yes, I did really want to stay for longer. And I told them all my plans, I’m gonna study Portuguese in college, I’m going to come back and study here. I’m going to come back and stay a little, maybe a lot, longer. My grandmother smiled and said I am always welcome to stay here “filha“. Daughter.
Suddenly, I’m hugged from the back and spun around face to face with my mom. “I LOVE YOU!” She screams. She doesn’t know English. “Eu te amo!” I say back, automatically. I mean it, she, more than a little bit drunk, means it too, though I don’t know how or where she learned that little bit of English. I give her a tight hug back and she squeals excitedly.
It’s nearing midnight. My bridge year is finishing its 7th month. I only have about a week left with my family, and another 3 weeks before I am home with my family in the US. I’m starting to feel the toll, the good change, of a year well spent abroad.
I love it here. I may be ready to go home, but I’m not ready to leave.