“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Rio de Janeiro!” Upon hearing these words from the pilot, I quickly opened the window and looked at what would be home for the next 4 weeks.
I did not know how to feel at that moment. I was excited to call a place that was foreign to me “home”, I was scared to be completely alone for the first time since beginning college, and I was anxious as I did not know what to expect. On the car ride to my homestay family, I sat in silence as I absorbed the scenery around me. I saw smoothly paved highways, brand new cars, and favelas from a distance looking down at them. I knew then that my study abroad experience would not only include studying Portuguese at a private institution, it would involve learning and witnessing the ways in which social inequality affects different peoples in Brazil.
Once I arrived in Copacabana and met my homestay family, I stood at the window staring at the world in front of me. I was living in a beautiful apartment that faces Copacabana Beach and a favela, a favela that is currently being occupied by the military. I knew this month would definitely be interesting.