These past few months I’ve been asking a lot of friends when winter will be here. No one really had a definite answer, just a few vague responses that it would be coming soon. Now that we’ve had a few below 60 degree F nights, I feel like winter is finally here! But thanks to one conversation with another friend, I finally realized why I wasn’t getting any concrete answers about the start and end to this cold season.
“Seasons aren’t really important here,” she told me. “You always say, ‘I spent a summer doing this’ or ‘Last winter I went here.’ Here in Minas Gerais, we don’t have such a tight idea of seasons. Some days- a lot of days- it’s hot and some days it’s cold. And that’s just how it is.”
Growing up in Chicago, I’m used to the four crazy different seasons that are easily distinguishable. But here in Minas Gerais, it doesn’t seem like “seasons” is the most relevant way to measure time or where we are in the year. Which was so weird when I first started thinking about it- I structure and categorize so much of my life by what season it is.
In the summer I love going to free events in the park. I imagine nights sitting on my parents’ porch, feeling free, relaxed, and sleepy in the summer heat. When I think of January in Chicago, I feel tired. I know the sun goes down quickly and the early below-zero mornings are horrible. My wet hair always freezes when I step outside.
All this time I’ve been worried that I was thinking we were in the “wrong” season here. Like what if it’s actually been WINTER for a long time and I haven’t even noticed because the weather hasn’t changed at all? But then that thought lead me to the question- what even is a season then, anyway? On a cold day here, I can drink hot chocolate at night and know that the next day will be a hot one, and I’ll be sweating as usual while I walk to UFLA. It’s a day-by-day approach, just different from what I’m used to.
All this existentialism to say: it has been a good semester. I’ve been learning and growing and meeting people and trying new things and reconsidering some of the ways I naturally tend to perceive the world. We ended things at the university with a Fourth of July party- 4th of July 4 U. Very hip, people. We taught the students who came “Cotton Eye Joe”, “Cha-Cha Slide”,and “Cupid Shuffle.” I really felt like I was at a wedding or something. But it was the perfect way to celebrate with our friends- we also had a round of “Quadrilha,” which is like the Brazilian version of square dancing. I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had to learn just as much as the opportunities I’ve had to share and teach. And I can’t wait for more next semester!
For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be out and about around Brazil. We have a mid-year professional development conference in Rio de Janeiro, and after that my dad will come meet me in Rio! It’s his first time out of the country in practically forever- so I’m excited to see him. Then I’ll head to the northeast part of Brazil, to a city called Fortaleza. And go to the beach. A lot. I’ll return in August to start the next semester off here at UFLA.
So until then!