When I travel, I often experience a mixture of adventure and apprehension. There are so many places to go, things to do, people to see. I am a rather adventurous person. Going somewhere to be locked in a room or to do and eat the same things I would at home are an absolute negative. The world is meant to be explored!
It is not, however, meant to be explored alone. I don’t mind being alone, but adventures are always more fun with friends. Being the “classic” friendly, extroverted American that I am, I have been able to make many friends in all parts of the world over my various travels. At the same time, I have also always traveled with friends or family. By participating in music tours, mission trips, or family vacations, I was ensured the “safety net” of those I knew loved and accepted me, allowing me to be more open and friendly with others.
Traveling to Brazil this summer was the first time that I have ever gone somewhere completely on my own, not knowing anybody ahead of time, unsure of the social climate being caused by the World Cup, and what’s more – uncertain of how I, as a “Brazilian,” would be viewed. I have dual citizenship, but I was born and raised in the States; my habits, thought processes, and accent are all American. True, my first language was Portuguese, I’ve been surrounded by extended family my whole life, and it’s not the first time I’ve been to Brazil, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect.
I am overwhelmed by how I have been received. My hosts are absolutely marvelous and treat me like family, the administration at Programa Aprendiz view and treat me as someone with valuable skills, and the student musicians are starting to consider me their friend. Even random people on the street think that I’m from São Paulo (my father actually is a Paulista), and say they would never guess I was American if it wasn’t for my slight accent (this phrase makes me so happy!).
I am loving my time here in Brazil. All of my fears about being accepted as a Brazilian
have completely dissipated and have continued to make new friends and acquaintances almost every day, despite not having a “safety net.” Well, that’s not true. I do have one, but not my normal one; I have created a safety net of people from those I’ve come to care about and they’ve come to care for me. Knowing that my time here in Niterói is almost over, many have already started asking me when I will return. For me, there is no higher praise.
A mixture of apprehension and adventure – guess which one always wins? That is why I keep traveling. There is nothing like knowing that you have friends around the world. We may not always be able to be together, but the memories we make last a lifetime. That is why I am here.
Written by Juliana Baioni
Performing Arts Abroad music intern in Brazil