I downloaded calendar apps in the hope of managing my days and making time go slowly. It did not work. I completed 6 months in Slovakia and, for sure, every moment was full of emotions and I’m trying to stay busy as much as possible. I traveled by train alone. I took thousands of photos. I saw snow covering the streets and the mountains. I skied for the first time. I took math tests in Slovak. I read books about World War II. I discovered incredible cafes here. I knew places that I had only seen in photos. I traveled in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. I made friends who live in Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, the United States, Colombia and Taiwan. I saw my biggest dreams come true and concluded that my heart was never prepared for goodbyes.

I learned to understand myself. I learned a new language. I learned what I love and what I hate. I learned that homesickness is part of life. I learned that there are bad days for good ones to happen. I learned that it is necessary to give up some things to conquer others. I learned that people can surprise. I learned that nothing is impossible.

Exchange is the best and most difficult adventure that a teenager can experience. Exploring the world and traveling is the best way to grow and be more mature. Get out of your comfort zone and see things you’ve never seen, from the most beautiful to the scariest. The greatness and beauty of this universe is there to be seen. Going beyond the known brings us the ability to see life itself from another angle.

I can say, with complete confidence in my words, I changed. I speak Portuguese with an accent. I speak English with an accent. I speak Slovak with an accent. I lived in two different worlds. I have a lot stories to tell. My heart will remember this year and every adventure. Slovakia is my second home. I am immensely grateful to Rotary International for this indescribable opportunity.

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