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Hey y'all! Oi pessoal!

Writing to you from a small city called Apucarana in the state of Paraná, Brazil. Apucarana is in the south of Brazil, known for its soy and hat (yes, like a baseball cap) production. The state of Paraná is most famous for the glorious Iguazu waterfall.

Of the green highlighted portion, I’m located in the northern part.

Hmm… where to begin. My luck began when the seat next to me went unoccupied on my red-eye flight to São Paulo. Somehow, I felt rested and ready to explore on my first day in Brazil. I was in the city for 4 days for Fulbright orientation, led by the Fulbright Brazil Commission.

Meeting the other 37 people who signed up to be scattered across Brazil to assist in university English classes was truly great. I found people who were similar to myself, and I met others who I never would have met without Fulbright. Over the course of orientation, we mutually agreed that if we are going to do this, we may as well do it together. Community support and understanding despite being from vastly different backgrounds and locations is a beautiful thing.

São Paulo was a cool city, complete with a thoughtful art museum (MASP), a picturesque park, and interesting food. My favorite experience was a late dinner at a restaurant that had live forró music and traditional north Brazilian food. Dance is my favorite cultural phenomenon; getting people up, moving, touching, laughing, and spinning about. My lack of dance culture growing up makes me envious of effortlessly getting lost in the rhythm of a crowd.

The abundant kindness and generosity that my colleagues and students have shown since I arrived in Apucarana has been astounding. So many people have reached out to offer their support, in any way that I might need it. My host professor set me up with a group of students who are specifically tasked with helping me settle in. I did not expect to feel so overwhelmingly welcome. I hope to return the favor in my work here.

Everyone I have met is interested in my being here, and is excited to learn about what I am doing. I befriended a wonderful lady at the café across from my hotel who ended up solving my housing dilemma (turns out, finding a fully-furnished apartment to rent for nine months in a small city is quite tough!).

There's lots of cafes, an adorable queer-friendly bar, and lots of great people for me to meet and learn with.

Answering the wonderfully posed question “You’re not from here, are you?” has led me to several friendships already, as people share stories of their time abroad, their child’s job in Italy, or what have you. The world is a small place, if you let it be here with you.

I still have to work to maintain my sanity, mainly including yoga, running, music, and phone calls. But my transition to life here has been made infinitely easier by the compassion of this community.

And a bit of the nitty gritty for those who aren’t familiar with my situation: I am an assistant professor at a university in Brazil for nine months, on a Fulbright grant from the Brazilian and U.S. government. The goals of the program are cultural exchange and language development.

Before this trip, I took two semesters of Portuguese at FSU. They have come in handy, but are not nearly enough. I rely heavily on my Spanish knowledge to get by, and so far it’s working… alright. I hope to gain proficiency during my time here.

Brazil is an enormous country, and I want to see as much as I can while I’m here. I have a few long weekends when I hope to travel to Rio, Salvador, Recife, Iguazu falls, Florionapolis, Chapada Diamantina National Park, Parati, Fortaleza, etc.


Lauren Kinsey Kuhlman


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