sexta-feira, 20 de junho de 2014

Exchange - the farewell

I wrote a text in portuguese when my exchange finished. This text was so successful and one friend of me translated it to English for a site. So I felt morally required to post it here. To see the text in portuguese, click here.

One day my mother asked me where in the world I would like to live, after so many wonderful places I have been, which one I liked more.

“If I could choose, it would be Bragança. Bragança I would perpetuate.”

Bragança is a city in the north of Portugal where I stayed a year studying as an exchange student. And when I finished to say that phrase to my mother, I thought how silly I am. How would I perpetuate Braganca? How do you perpetuate something that is already eternal? 

And at that moment, pulling bags and chatting with my mom on a slope in Porto, I realized that eternal is not what lasts forever. Eternal is the invisible becoming visible when you remember certain memories. The invisible are the feelings, moments or images that only the head of those who passed through certain situation is capable of playing. Eternal may have a duration of one second or more. Eternal can be a kiss, a person, a place, a journey. Eternal is that thing you do not forget, regardless of time or distance. The eternal is what lasts in the heart. So, my exchange was already eternal from the moment I stepped in Bragança. 

And then I remembered the coffee bar that Erasmus students were used to go almost every day to meet each other and hang out together in my "Bragancinha". I felt myself inside a brazilian soup opera called "Malhação" that I was used to watch when I was teenage. The main characters were used to go to a bar called "GigabyteBite". It was like the second home of them. But my second home was called Momentos and whenever I went there I looked at the wall and read : "The value of things is not in how long they last , but the intensity which they occur. So there are unforgettable moments, inexplicable things and incomparable people." Yes, Fernando Pessoa understand me perfectly.

I remember when I left Brazil, I wondered how I would adapt to a city of about 25,000 inhabitants. I was so urban and so fond of hustle and smell of the big cities. Today I see that I did not know me very well. I also remember that my Brazilian coordinator, in a meeting with the future exchange students, told us, " Don´t feel that you have been chosen because you are the best, but you're going to become better people".

One fact is that I can not compare the structure of a small town in Europe with the structure of a small town in Brazil. When I arrived in Bragança, I found a clean, quiet place, a city that revolves around the university and offer everything a person needs to live. I realized then, that I could adapt myself to a rather small place, what would be my home for a year. It was a different world that I was used to. I never thought someday I could walk alone on deserted streets after midnight. But Bragança offered me the security that I, Brazilian girl, did not think I would find anywhere.

I went to college, I studied, I attended classes with great professors, I tasted good food, I traveled, I went to parties and saw many goodbyes. I met the new and had a new view of the old. I came in contact with different cultures and I could share mine.

And now, looking the way back, I understand why Bragança was my destiny. Because there I found everything I wanted and needed at that time. I went to Bragança because in my life I had to study in IPB, because I had to go to the place that has the strongest academic spirit in the world. When I was 11 and started reading the Harry Potter books, my dream was to get the acceptance letter to Hogwarts... hahaha. I got better, I received an acceptance letter to study in Portugal, which was one of the inspirations for JK Rowling. Yes, there is a place in the world which people use those capes and costumes, there is a place which students are separated in schools, which they defend hard and give their life for them. And in this place I studied, in one of the inspirations of the author of my favorite character when I was adolescence.

I had to go to Braganca because I had to know Vik, Belito, Edd, Claudio, Machado, Thallison, Raphael, Camila, Gokhan, Hugo, Ema. I had to share a room with Suelen, I had to know “Turma da Charabanada” (the best whatsapp group!). Brother, I had to know CHARABANADA (if you do not know, RUN to Bragança... hahaha ). I had to meet Wellinton, Guilherme, Oscar, Yuri, Jessica, Carolina, Mag, Livio, Carlos, Tomek. I had to have a second home called Momentos. I had to know the Mexican guys and Brazilian friends from various parts of my country, thousands of Turks who have become our friends and gave us place to sleep, me and Vik in whole Turkey. I had to know Polish and Portuguese people, of course. I had to help organize Balada Louca, Pau Quebrante. I had to know this incredible town that made me wonder about my passion for big city. I had to know better Brazil via Portugal. I had to know me better.

The exchange is so intense that it can be compared to a lifetime. You arrive at the place, and this is the time you are born there. As a child, you begin to learn the language, the ways, the manners and customs of the place. Begin to recognize who will be your new family. Usually, in this phase there is always someone with you, people who are there to lend you a hand. After all, you do not even know which streets you should turn. Then you grow up and no longer need anyone to be on your tail, this is the stage of adolescence, you go to college, has commitments , and have fun, go to parties, make friends, have romances. Then you reproduce, reproduce stories, joys, sorrows, emotions all at once. And then you reach the end. You shall not be who you were, your vision changes. You change your way of acting. You'll understand that there are more important things of which you thought they were.

And so, learning so many life lessons I also learned an end of life lesson. Because on the end of my exchange, what mattered was less material goods which I had purchased and was taking for my country. That was the question I heard most when I arrived in Brazil: "Did you bring a lot of clothes?", "Did you bring a lot of winter clothes?", "With which phone you're, Tablet, Notebook??" In fact, almost all the clothes I bought there, I left to other people that would arrive in the city. Many Brazilians would go to Bragança, and it is normal that us, from tropical country, do not have many decent winter clothes when we arrive on a cold place like Bragança is.

And actually, when I was leaving and saying goodbye to people, I realized that the most important thing that I was leaving, were those people, and the moments they shared with me. The funny thing is that I was not actually leaving. Actually, I was leaving and taking with me. Leaving my friends and taking with me the feelings we shared and the moments, what we learned together and the most different experiences that we experienced. And all the love that united us. And I felt extremely grateful to all those people who went down in rain, snow and left their homes to go to my house or bus station to give me a hug and wish good things. I felt extremely grateful to have people crying with me, even those who laughed at me when we were happy together. I wondered why they were there, and why there were people waiting me at the airport in Brazil and how happy I was to have so many good people on my way. This invisible link that drives people to leave their homes and come to find who they love was the most important thing I had in exchange. And I do not need any bag to put it, this feeling is with me, insid of my heart. There were many lessons, moments, feelings multiplied by a thousand.

Exchange is life, is learning, is teaching. 
And if I could choose, I would choose Bragança ten thousand times!!


Nicole Werneck.

Instagram: @nicolewerneckf
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