A summer spent in the Brazilian Amazon

Stephanie (middle) in traditional Kayapo dress

College is a time to grow as a person, discover where you want to go in life, and take advantage of as many opportunities as you possibly can. One of those amazing opportunities college offers is the chance to study abroad.

I spoke with Stephanie Barnes, a junior majoring in Anthropology who spent last summer abroad in Brazil and she shared her experience of what it was like to travel to a foreign country.

Katie: Where did you study abroad?

Stephanie: I studied abroad in Brazil where I lived in the Brazilian Amazon with an indigenous community, the Kayapo, in their village A’ukre for three weeks.

K: What surprised you the most about studying in a foreign country?

S: I think just how comfortable I was. I went in thinking that “oh I don’t know the language, it’s going to be harder for me to manage traveling and everything”. But I ended up being really comfortable and learned a lot from the people I was with.

K: How have you grown as an individual and a traveler since studying abroad?

S: I think my experience abroad definitely humbled me as an individual just to see the way that these people lived and their lifestyle. It definitely made me look at and reflect on the way that I live my life. And as a traveler, I think it just gave me the confidence that I can go abroad and do this type of travel.

K: Do you have a memorable experience from the trip you would like to share?

S: There was this one day when we were in A’ukre, the village. We had been there for probably a day or two and I was walking with two other students through the village when all of a sudden this little kid ran out from a house to give me this huge hug. It was the first big welcoming since we had got there and they were always welcoming, but it was the first time someone had actually reached out to me. And it was a little kid so it was just really sweet and I remember starting to cry a little bit after the hug. I thought it was so sweet and I felt even more welcome.

K: If you could describe your experience abroad in one word, what would it be?

S: Humbling.

K: What advice do you have for those studying abroad or for those who are traveling abroad this summer?

S: I would say just to put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to try new things. Everything you are going to come across is going to be new to you, so don’t be scared of it. It is a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity no matter where you are going. Put your heart into it and jump out of your comfort zone.

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