1. You know it’s time for a change
This headline just spoke to you, didn’t it? Otherwise you clearly wouldn’t continue reading this text. Exactly one year ago, I was in your position. I was staring at my computer screen during my lunch break, which I spent at my desk in one of many digital marketing agencies in the beautiful but gray city of Hamburg, Germany. Christmas was over and it hadn’t snowed – but that was not quite the only reason there was no magic at all to my situation. I knew I needed a getaway. But how to escape at all when you’re all tangled up in your daily life routine?
Easy as that: just get in touch with GoBrazil. As far away as it might sound to you and as crazy as the idea might seem at first: they will be happy to answer your questions, no matter if you’re interested in volunteering (which I would clearly recommend) or up to a nice vacation: they will help you plan your adventure. I know, it is a big step – but you’re not alone in this.
2. You will learn a lot about yourself
Try to turn things around and start asking yourself rather “Why not?” than “Why?”. The “How?” is going to come so much easier than you think eventually. Once you’re in Brazil, you’ll have an amazing opportunity to change your perspective. It’s not only the distance (as for me Hamburg – Maceió: 8000 km) but also the mentality that is going to help you overthink old and outdated patterns big time. I once read that we spend more time in life to forget how things are supposed to be like than to simply focus on how we want things to be like for us. It’s not always the big house and the fancy car on the list of life goals – or maybe it is. But how are you supposed to know, if you are never going to find out what else might be out there for you? 8000 km away from my comfort zone I learned a lot about myself, even though I always thought I knew myself pretty well already. You are going to spend the rest of your life with yourself, so use this opportunity to embrace all of your hidden facets. You might end up really surprised, like me.
3. You will get a lot of sun
I just came back from walking the dog here in Northern Germany, and seriously: it takes so long to get dressed during this season. Coat, scarf, woolen hat, gloves. Not only the dog hates that I’m taking so long, I really don’t like it too much myself.
You won’t even need to bring a jacket to Brazil. The climate is so stable that, once you’re there for a few weeks, you will start feeling the smallest changes in weather, like a 2° temperature drop.
Prepare yourself for a very sunny time in a country, where not only the weather is warm, but so is the mentality of the people!
4. You will get the chance to make a difference
My aunt, who is dedicating pretty much all of her free time to help refugees in Southern Germany, smiled at me once in the middle of a conversation and said: “For you, it’s also the people who matter, right?”
And I nodded my head immediately, even though I was quite surprised about my strong reaction to her sentence at the same time. Having worked in advertising for more than 5 years, I clearly wasn’t doing a people oriented job, rather the opposite. But working as a teacher in Brazil, I learned that even with the smallest effort, you can change someone’s life. And really, the more effort I put into my project, the more I got in return. People in Alagoas might not have a lot of money – but they truly have the biggest hearts. I am thankful to have met so many special people there.
5. You will feel like you belong
Spending so much time in a country that is as big as an entire continent, you will start feeling pretty limitless when it come to geographical distance. You can spend 11 hours on a night bus, and still the distance you have covered after that ride will look ridiculously small on a map. Also the mental and sometimes even physical distance differs a lot from the one I was used to: Someone is always talking to you or sharing his popcorn with you (that really is a thing!) on public transport, or at least trying to make nice conversation, depending on how good your Portuguese is. Since people can travel for hours and hours within their own country, the motivation of learning English really isn’t that big after all. That (along with GoBrazils fantastic language classes), is going to help you improve your language skills way faster than you would have guessed. It might be tough in the beginning, but it will make you adapt and get accepted into the Brazilian society quickly. Variety is a big topic here: all people coming from different origins, there is no one looking typically Brazilian after all. You can be super white, like me, and still make a good Brazilian from the south. So eventually, all the sunburns I got don’t make me too gringa for the climate at all.
You should pack your sunblock (to not get called shrimp [camarão] since that’s the word for a person with a sunburn) and let your adventure begin. Talking about limits earlier: the only limit is within you – and you’ll only find out about it, once you get out of your comfort zone.
So get out: GoBrazil in 2017.
About the author: Cathrin, digital designer from Hamburg, volunteered at GoBrazil from April till July 2016. She was giving painting lessons for kids as well as teaching English at “Casa da Arte” – the small NGO in our neighbourhood.