Saturday, August 11, 2018

Muito Obrigado Brasil

So the great Brazilian adventure is over now, I’m back in the United States and I can’t help but look back and reflect on my time in the beautiful country of Brazil. From the beautiful beaches of Florianopolis to the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, my time in Brazil has taught me so much not only inside the lab but outside of my normal and I am a more enlightened person because of it.

#1. Labcai at UDESC—My experience in Labcai where I researched was a very fruitful venture.  I learned so much about RT-PCR, xenobiotic effects on aquatic life, and how the research done there is important to food safety and the economy. One day, I want to work for the FDA as a chemist testing for food safety and though I didn’t see it immediately at first, this kind of research holds significance not only in the STEM field, but also in everyday life.  I am grateful to my caring labmates whom all took time to explain and show the process behind these types of studies that I had no previous knowledge to.  I am glad I get to use the knowledge I learned in this laboratory and apply it in my future studies.

#2. Farewell Dinner at Lagoa de Conceiҫão—This was our last supper together with all the other exchange students we met while we were in Floripa.  It was amazing meeting so many bright and motivated people from all over the world.  These people shared their ideas and culture all while embracing Brazilian culture.  These wonderful individuals have motivated me to continue the passage of information and form new bonds that will last a lifetime. 

#3. Us at the Rose Steps in Rio de Janeiro—I was glad I was able to make great friends with my roommates Courtney and Theresa. From helping each other understand the theory behind our projects to exploring the different places in Florpia and Brazil.  I am happy I met these wonderful ladies and I can’t wait to see their final project presentations in September.

#4. Moqueca in Santo Antonio—I enjoyed all the amazing food I have been able to eat while in Brazil, but, my favorite dish has to be Moqueca, which is a Brazilian fish stew.

#5. Rio de Janeiro skyline—At the end of our term in Floripa, we took a trip to Rio de Janeiro to explore the famous city.  We were able to immerse ourselves in the city’s culture, history, and beauty.  This picture was taken on top of Sugarloaf mountain at night after a day of hitting the highlights of the city.  I still feel like I didn’t get to see everything and hope I have a chance to come back again to Brazil in the future. 

Until then, I had an amazing experience this summer, Muito Obrigado Brazil!



Saudade: "The love that remains after someone or something is gone. The recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement and pleasure which now triggers the senses and makes one live again." -Sarah Wilson

Saudade is a Portuguese word that does not have an exact English translation. It is more emotional and strong than just nostalgia or missing something. It is looking back and feeling a fondness towards a time in your life where you felt immense joy somewhere or with someone, but is also the feeling of knowing that time is over and hoping that you will be reunited in the future. This is the word that sums up how I am feeling about my time in Brazil coming to a close.

Since this was my second time in Brazil, I came into this program thinking that I would know roughly what to expect even though I would be in a new city. I was hoping to improve my Portuguese  and learn more about what it is like to conduct research in Brazil. However, I gained so much more from this summer than I could have imagined. I did improve my Portuguese even though I am far from fluent. I also experienced what it is like to conduct research in Brazil. There were a lot of moments where I saw how frustrating it can be. Things often took longer than I expected them too, and materials were extremely expensive so ordering was very complicated to try and get the cheapest price. However, I also witnessed extremely hard working researchers who were innovative and collaborated well. There are a lot of lessons that I will take with me in my future work.

I also gained a new sense of independence and a deeper love and understanding of Brazil. Navigating alone at times in a city where most people don’t speak English has really taught me that I can rely on myself, even with my horrible sense of direction. Curitiba is a very different city from São Paulo (which is where I studied last year), but has it’s own charm. The people are kind, proud of their city, and always willing to help. Everyone was also very quick to teach me about their history, and I really enjoyed talking about politics with my friends and coworkers. I have created  so many amazing experiences, firsts, and friendships in this eight weeks. I am so thankful for everyone that I have met and that has taken time to help me, and most importantly for the MHIRT program. So Brazil, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later! Can’t wait to see you all!!!

Thanks MHIRT

Hi! I'm currently sitting at the Buenos Aires airport after being fortunate enough to spend one week here with my SP roomie, Jamila! This is the beginning of the end of a very interesting summer-- thank you MHIRT for this experience! But it's not truly an ending because I found out that I get to continue working on a science paper to get published with my mentors in SP and go present in ARVO 2019! Yay to more adventures!! I can't believe how many doors SP has opened for me... surprisingly I miss Brasil a lot! After spending a week in Argentina, I found myself constantly wishing for coxinhas, sucos at restaurants instead of soda, and for coffee at the end of every meal. Ah, good ol' black coffee :) 

In Buenos Aires I got the opportunity to attend a ballet, a cooking class, and a tango class. At the cooking class (through Airbnb experiences 10/10 would recommend), Jamila and I, along with 3 other American girls and a guy from New Zealand, met up at local house's for empanadas cooking class and a typical Argentine night of talking, eating, and drinking wine. The conversations were really great and it showed me something that I have been learning this entire summer, which is-- no matter where you are in the world, we're not really that different from each other! Argentina has it's issues, just like America and just like Brasil and just like any other country, none is perfect. But what's so great is that there are people that travel and learn about other cultures and want to engage in conversation and try to make the entire world a better place. This is why MHIRT is important.

Tchau São Paulo, Oi Estados Unidos

While on the plane back home I felt many mixed emotions and realizations.
 I was sad to leave my Brasil family, the project I worked tirelessly on, and morning coffee with Leo.

 I was happy to know that I was going to be able to see my family and eat snow cones with my sister.

I began to think about our very first day in São Paulo, and how we struggled to do simple things we tend to take for granted. Then, I realized how much the three of us had grown not only as individuals, but as companions as well. We transformed from three young women who barely knew each other to three young women who became a small "gringa" family in a country we came to know and love.

Last Reflections

It's hard to believe that it's been around two weeks since the Uganda team left the ground!  I went back through some of my pictures the other night, so here's to reminiscing with me!

Here's a picture from our last workshop for the summer at Reproductive Health Uganda of the research team.  Don't we look great?  I remember feeling so weird that we were finished!

Bright smiles for yummy food and our dear friend, Sam, at our farewell dinner.

And last but not least, here's a picture with our dearest friend Moreen (aka the sweetest lady on this planet--sorry mom).  She normally hates pictures, but we guilted her into taking one with us (whoops).

Looking through these makes me emotional, and I'm thankful for MHIRT for giving me the opportunity to experience all of this!  Next stop:  MHIRT Symposium 2018!