Oi! My name is Anna Baltisberger, and I have the honor of living and studying in Brazil through Rotary Youth Exchange in this upcoming year! I am currently 17 years old, and will be a graduate of Granville High School in May. I am very excited to spend a year in Pirituba, Brazil before attending college in fall 2018! In high school, I have been involved in the marching band, theater program, and many different clubs. I have always loved trying new things and pushing my limits, as I will continue to do while in Brazil. I am also beyond excited to have the opportunity to live in Brazil as I am planning on majoring in environmental studies, and I believe this is a great country to learn about issues and solutions up close. I am thankful to my parents and siblings for being supportive of me as I embark on this great adventure. I hope to soak up the culture from the people around me while I am there, and maybe even bring some sun back to Ohio. Even as this exchange will be challenging, I cannot wait for all the new experiences that will come of it! Thank you to the Granville Rotary Club and district 6690 for sponsoring and supporting me, I am extremely grateful for this unique opportunity!
September 1, 2017
Oi! Currently writing from my host family’s apartment in Pirituba, São Paulo where I have been living for a little over a month now! It was wild to arrive to a huge group of people at the airport all waiting just for me, it immediately showed me the loving nature of Brazilians that I see everyday. I have had a lot of great opportunities since I have gotten here. I got to go to the top of an inactive volcano in my town and drink fresh coconut juice while there, it was truly an amazing view and experience. I went downtown São Paulo with some friends and my host sisters to Avenida Paulista to walk the famous street, and of course visit some shops. I hope to go back soon to visit the famous Museum of modern art (which luckily is free on tuesdays!) and visit some more famous spots. I am currently finishing my 4th week of school at Colégio São João Gualberto, it has been very interesting to study in a school where the students stay in the classrooms while the teachers switch between classes. I also have another Rotary exchange student from Taiwan named Ruby in my class with me so it has been nice to be able to hang out with her at the school! I also went to my orientation for exchange the past weekend, and it was amazing to be able to talk and interact with so many people from so many cultures and nationalities. Many of the students also live in the city of São Paulo like I do, and we hopefully will get to meet up often. Thanks so much for this opportunity, I am loving Brazil!
October 1, 2017
Oi, I have now been in Brazil for a little over two months! Other than going to school I have been kept very busy this past month. Portuguese is often a very hard language to understand, but I believe I am getting closer and closer to being fluent every day. I had the awesome opportunity to go to the beach over the independence day weekend with my host family at the beginning of this month. These were definitely the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, with mountains leading into the insanely blue water. I am so thankful that I was able to experience them! I went to the Brazil rotary conference, and had the opportunity to dance with a large group of exchange students in front of the President of Rotary International, very cool moment. A couple weeks ago I went with my district to the town of Holombra for a flower festival, the town was very different because it is designed to resemble Holland, and was great to experience with other exchange students. I’m loving learning about São Paulo city and discovering new places around, because it is a massive city. I’m excited for the many more adventures to come:)
November 1, 2017
October has always been my favorite month, so it has been really exciting to spend it in Brazil! This month I explored more of São Paulo when I had the time. I went to São Paulo’s muesum of modern art and was able to see art from artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh which was very surrel. I explored Liberdade, a Japanese neighborhood, and beco de batman, an alley that has been redone with beautiful murals. Also in February I will participate in carnaval in São Paulo, with the team Dragões Da Real, so I have begun going to samba school, which is basically just the practice sessions for the song we will be parading to. It is a really fun and animated group to be a part of, I just need to hurry up and memorize the lyrics to the song so I can focus on figuring out how to samba. I am truly thankful for my great host family for giving me this opportunity! I also went with my family to a U2 concert on my birthday, which was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are still many parts of São Paulo I need to explore, and I am excited for the months to come. Thanks for everything:)
December 1, 2017
Oi! I have now been in Brazil for 4 months which really shows how fast time is going by! This month I had the amazing opportunity to take a class on solar energy from solar panels for free thanks to my host family, my host club, and the school of SENAI. The class was 6 days (24 hours in total) and taught the installation and how solar panels work, it was a great class to take with my interests in the environment and sustainability. I also gave a presentation to my host rotary club this month in portuguese about where I am from, my home rotary club, and a bit about my exchange so far. Thanksgiving was definitely a very different experience because Brazil does not celebrate it in any way (other than also having a black friday and cyber monday). But, nonetheless, I had the opportunity to meet up with some exchange students in my home and cook a small thanksgiving meal with our own attempts at stuffing and apple crisp. It was very nice to get some of those familiar smells back. Definitely starting to miss Granville’s small town feel after so much time in São Paulo, but there really is an endless amount of places to explore and people to meet here. School is ending in a few days and I am very excited to see what summer in Brazil will be like! Definitely sending some love and sunshine back towards Ohio during your winter:)
January 1, 2018
Hope you all had a great holiday season and a happy new year (feliz ano novo!)! I have had a great month spending christmas and the new years trying new things. This month I finished my semester at school, ending my term with my class. In Brazil the school year begins in January and ends in December, so my class had a small party at the school and now we are on summer break, In 2018 I will have a new class because the year starts in January. This month my district took all the exchange students to a orphanage in the interior of São Paulo to give the kids presents. After we went to a cabin to have a barbeque, and it was such a wonderful surprise that the club made a turkey to help everyone from the States celebrate Thanksgiving. For christmas I made cookies with my family and they decorated cookies for their first time ever. Here, the christmas parties are usually on christmas eve. My family ate a large dinner, exchanged gifts (secret santa style), and stayed up till midnight. Fireworks aren’t illegal here so everyone in the city started shooting of fireworks when midnight hit. This was the same with the new year also, tons of fireworks, which was awesome to watch. For new years I spent the time in a cabin of a family of rotarians in the interior of São Paulo. This holiday season definitely has felt extremely different without the normal cold, and traditions of my family, but I have really enjoyed the holidays I was able to experience here. Summer in december doesn’t feel quite right, but I am thankful for the warmth so I can go out to the city and explore more neighborhoods. Stay warm during the cold Ohio winter and thanks so much for this opportunity!
February 1, 2018
I hope you all are keeping warm during the Ohio winter, I have loved looking at the pictures of all the snow this year without actually having to be cold 🙂
January has definitely gone by super fast because I have been on vacation from school this whole month, I will be starting up again at the beginning of february. This month I said goodbye to one host family and was welcomed by a new one. I moved out of the São Paulo area and I am now living in a small more interior town about thirty minutes north of the city called Caieiras. I am really enjoying having a small town feel back in my life. My family also has an apartment in the city that we will be visiting a couple times every week when we go to the gym in the city. Before I left my first host family, at the beginning of the month we spent a couple days at a nearby beach which was super nice, because I love the beach. I also have had a couple samba school practices this month because Carnaval will be at the beginning of february and we need to practice all the singing and dancing for when we parade. I am definitely starting to strategize how I can bring as much food from brazil back to the states as possible, because this food is too good to give up. I only have a little more than 4 months left and that’s really scary to think about! But I am really excited to see what these couple months have in store for me:) Até logo!
March 1, 2018
February has been a very high energy, festive month here in Brazil, because February is the month of Carnaval! Brazil is famous for the beautiful displays of culture and colors during the Carnaval parades in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. And the people of Brazil have street parades and festivities the whole month long to commemorate the whole event. I had the amazing opportunity to parade with Os Dragões da real, during the parade in São Paulo! As the school of samba has been preparing for the parade the whole year (I only started practicing last september) it was amazing to be apart of the show all put together. We paraded once on a saturday at 4 AM, then because our school won 5th place, we had the opportunity to parade a second time in the winners parade the following friday. While the events were very tiring, and the costume was very heavy, the whole event was still so incredibly beautiful. If you are interested in watching our whole parade you can look up “os dragões da real desfile 2018” in youtube and it will come up. I also super recommend looking up some of the schools that paraded in Rio, because they are often much more in depth and very cool, for example some are São Clemente, Beija-Flor, Paraíso do Tuiuti, and Salguerio and are all very cool to watch.
Also at the beginning of this month I started school again. Brazil starts their school year at the beginning of the year, unlike the United States, so I am now at the beginning of their term now with a new class. So aside from the festivities, I have to go back to a bit of reality and start waking up at 5:30 again to go to school. This month really has been full of great new experiences as I experienced of the coolest cultural traditions of Brazil.
Thanks again and até mais!
April 1, 2018
Time has been going by so fast, I can hardly believe It is already March and that I only have 2 months left of exchange!
This month I had the Amazing opportunity to go on a three day trip to the Foz de Iguau. We flew to the state of Paran to visit the falls, then went to Paraguay to visit the huge shopping area, and Argentina to see the falls from the Argentina side. The whole trip was extremely magical as the falls are full of rainbows and butterflies (literally!). And while I admit that I found the Argentinian side much more beautiful, it must only be because on that side you are looking at Brazil. The falls are an amazing feat of nature, there are more than 275 in the falls system, it is almost impossible to look away. It was a life changing trip that I could not have been more thankful for. Other than the trip, I have just been in school trying to make the most of the time I have here. Autumn has arrived here, and I hope that spring brings some warmth to everyone back home.
May 1, 2018
It’s weird to say but… I only have one more month left in Brazil! My exchange has been going so fast and slow at the same time, but it’s been amazing!
At the end of march/beginning of april I went on a little vacation over easter with my host family to see some more beaches and an island. I was so thankful for this trip because these beaches were some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. When we went to the island we even went on a hike to see some waterfalls, the only problem is that we all left with hundreds of bug bites! But it was really amazing! This month also we have had weekly dance practices with the exchange students in my district to prepare a dance for the district conference at the end of may. Our district also had the opportunity to participate in a RYLA event where we did some leadership activities and had the opportunity to talk more about our countries and the differences from Brazil. The rotex from our district also organized an event to take all the exchange students for a day to a rollercoaster park! It is a park called hopi hari, it was a really great day to spend with exchange students (but Cedar Point is still the best).
My school had a cultural fair this month where they created dance and spoken presentations for the younger students about portuguese, english, and spanish. I became involved with my classmates for a dance using musics of the portuguese language, all the music being from Brazil. It was a great opportunity to connect more with students from my class and learn more styles of dancing in Brazil. Over all it has been an amazing month, I just wish it wouldn’t go by so quickly! Wish me luck during my last month.
June 1, 2018
Que saudades eu vou ter! I can’t believe my last month passed so quickly and now I only have one week left I had so many great opportunities this month and I am so thankful. At the beginning of the month I went with our districts Rotex and the exchanged it is from our district to do a tour of two museums! later in the month for 10 days I had the amazing opportunity to participate on the trip to the Amazon. We spent two days in the city of Manaus hiking and visiting the city. The next seven days we spent on a boat in the middle of the Black River, A river in the Amazon that has a higher acidity than the Amazon river so it appears black also because of the high amount of foliage.It was amazing meeting Indian tribes, hiking through the rain forest, playing soccer with local communities and trying many water sports. all while spending great time with all the other exchange students. This month we also had our district conference where we went to a hotel for three days and presented a dance. While all the exchange dance in our district also did a dance, me and my friend from Nebraska Learned and prepared a swing dance to show American culture. The dance turned out really well and it was a great opportunity to show some American spirit. Thank you all for this great opportunity I am going to enjoy my last week as much as I can before coming back to the lovely Ohio. I am so excited to share my stories and my experience with everyone. Eu não tenho palavras por como eu estou grata por essa experiência!
Obrigada pelo tudo//Thanks for everything