Submitted by Meghan O’Brien on the 2020 winter session program in Brazil sponsored by the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences…
To start off our last week abroad, we tried a Brazilian jiu jitsu class. No one had ever done this before and we really had no idea what to expect. The master was very nice and excited that we decided to learn more about this part of the culture. We paired up with a partner and learned about 10 moves all about self defense. Like other major cities, Rio has safe in wealthy areas, but also there were some risky or sketchy areas. I really didn’t know much about self defense so this lesson was really important and something I will remember forever.
As I previously mentioned in some blogs, we spent some time learning about the landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx. On Tuesday, we toured his property called “citio” where we saw his house, studio, gardens, and his huge acres of land. Wednesday morning, we had our last watercolor lesson and then a few of my classmates met up with my Mom and Grandma who were visiting and we went on a sunset boat tour. The views were incredible and the boat crew was really excited to explain more about the history of Brazil. Thursday was our last day of class, but we spent our morning in Lapa visiting gardens, the Cathedral, and the Selaron Steps. Friday was spent finalizing both our final montage for the field sketching class and our final presentation about the environmental issues surrounding the Rio Olympic games for the plants and human culture class. Saturday ,we presented both projects and finished with a celebration of accomplishing both classes and assignments.
Leaving Brazil was really hard and I would love to stay for longer. I could not have asked for a better group of professors or students. I will cherish these memories forever. I am grateful that I have 14 new friends that I can hang out with at UD now, too! Unfortunately, we had to say good-bye to Cecilia which was extremely difficult and emotional. Cecilia is from Brazil, but went to UD for graduate school for landscape architecture. She stayed with us for the three weeks in Rio and I could not have asked for a better guide, friend, and mentor. She helped us with the classes, speaking Portuguese, trying new foods, going to new beaches and cities, and so much more. Carnaval has such a huge presence in Brazil and she took us to some night events with bands and people in costumes all celebrating their city together. When I think back about my time abroad and my memories, she really impacted my experience in a lot of ways. We are really hopeful that we will get to see her again.
Overall, I am really glad I was on this unique study abroad program and I am thankful that I was able to live in the beautiful country of Brazil. I will miss the wildlife, vegetation, beaches, music, food, and of course the warm weather. This program has helped me step out of my comfort zone and to appreciate the little things in life.