(Photo provided by Marshaé Compton)
First impressions, by Marshaé Compton:
Taking the first step on Rio soil and smelling the crisp, clean air was a feeling that I could not get anywhere else. Coming from the small state of Oklahoma, living in the upper lower class, I never imagined that I would be in a foreign country continuing my education. For a moment I had to halt and think to take it all in. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a beautiful city filled with an overwhelming amount of spirit and liveliness that you can see and feel. The city was dressed in beautiful colors because of the Olympics. The citizens that make up the population are very fast paced, which causes most of the liveliness, and the city is never quiet. You can feel the spirit wherever you go, such as roaming the streets that are filled with people.
Moving to a new country is definitely tough in the beginning, especially for me because I did not speak a word of Portuguese, the native language. At first, I was too scared to go out to eat or even grocery shop because I felt embarrassed about only speaking English. Although I still have a huge language barrier, I am finding my journey here getting a lot easier and I am becoming more flexible. I felt more confident in my decision to study in Rio after seeing its beautiful architecture. Learning so much about its people and culture gives me the motivation to continue with my education. Rio has a mixture of cultures, such as the music from the African population and the native music combined to form one! It gives you a sense of where the musical influences originated. Out on the street, on the sidewalks, there are individuals playing their instruments and singing their beautifully created songs. Another mind-boggling thing you will come across are the modern buildings and the colonial buildings; together they tell a story of their past through their architecture. Learning so much about the history, and actually being here and seeing it for myself makes all the difference, as opposed to just reading about it. I feel as if I retain the information more because I can visit the places I read about.
As I am learning about the culture I am feeling more comfortable here. For instance, in America when I’m walking in a public place, I often smile while walking past someone and they might smile back with a nod. In Rio it is definitely not like that. At first, I got offended when no one smiled back or nodded. After I walked to class and spoke with my Portuguese professor, I realized that they were not being rude, they are just not accustomed to smiling at random individuals walking on the street. After being reassured and learning more about the people, I realized they are all kind but just not in the same way I am, since I am American with different experiences and expectations. Learning this will help me understand other cultures and that people may be different in other countries. I definitely would not change this new experience for anything! I really encourage others to think, and do, something that they may feel uncomfortable doing. Doing so, will open up your eyes to new and beautiful experiences. It is completely life changing, for the better!