By Michal MacMorran, Sophomore

Four families, six weeks, and one summer trip to Brazil, South America. This was the experience that the Burrells and Raakes shared together, along with a family from Louisville, and family friends already living in the area.

“It’s one of those things that you can’t quite explain because it seems like you’re downplaying it,” said sophomore Tate Raake, reflecting on his summer travel. “The whole thing was just so amazing, I can’t even describe it.”

The group on the trip take a picture in front of Christ the Redeemer in Rio.
The group on the trip take a picture in front of Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

As far as culture and atmosphere goes, there is a lot to be noticed between the States and Brazil.

“One thing that I noticed immediately about the culture and life there was that everyone was so carefree and relaxed…it was like there was nothing to worry about,” Raake said. He wasn’t the only one who took note of this striking difference in atmosphere between America and Brazil.

“They’re a lot more laid back there, it feels like there’s less stress for sure. People often show up late to their events, but no one cares. At home we call that ‘Brazil time’ if we run late because that’s just how it is there. But no one minds.”

-Junior Victor Burrell

Amanda Burrell, a senior this year, found herself constantly amazed by the local’s hospitality. “You wouldn’t even really know them and they’d be saying ‘Oh do you need a place to stay? Come over to my house! Come for dinner! Stay the night!'”

On the trip, the Raakes and Burrells stayed in an apartment belonging to Amanda and Victor’s second cousin and her husband.

“Twelve people stayed in that apartment,” Amanda said. “They just said ‘we’ll get an extra mattress, we’ll do something, it’ll work, we’re good!’ And they did! They just make it work. They are so very hospitable and open. It’s just not like that here, at least not nearly as much.”

The friendliness of the people weren’t all the Raakes and Burrells got to experience, though. Over the course of the trip, the families had a number of crazy adventures ranging from zip-lining, to waterfall rappelling, to rafting.

Waterfall Repelling

“It’s something of a blur; we did so much and it was so amazing,” said Amanda. “I would give anything to go back and do it over, and over, and over again. We’re already planning for next year, and the year after that and so on!” Tate said.

Victor got his own special birthday present in Brazil, one that Tate and Amanda didn’t take part in due to cost. It was a once in a lifetime treat (what with him being a soccer player himself): a ticket to a game at the FIFA World Cup.

“It was Brazil vs the Netherlands, and it was such an amazing experience. We were in Brazil, and it was Brazil playing, so the fans were crazy,” Victor said. “And when they sung their national anthem, I got chills.”

Family friends show their Brazilian pride on the beach.
Family friends show their Brazilian pride on the beach.

It’s safe to say that everyone, local or not, was greatly impacted by the World Cup.

“That whole month was like one big holiday for them [the locals]- no one worked, no one went to school. They had their week of winter break, and then three more weeks off all because of the World Cup!” explained Tate. “I was really impressed when we went to the Fan Fest in Rio and saw all of these Americans rooting for the US. Given they were all drunk and insane of course! But seeing all the different kinds of people from all over the world, joined up in one place for one thing -soccer- was amazing.”

Unfortunately everything has a cost, especially an out-of-the-country family vacation.

“I really wanted to go to Show Choir Camps of America, but couldn’t,” Amanda said. “Also, we all lived out of these tiny travel-on suitcases. It was a month and a half of suitcases; that, I got tired of! So I gave up a closet too, but that’s nothing compared to a trip to Brazil for a month and a half with my friends and family.”

Of the 308 million-plus citizens in the United States, only 30% have passports. This only proves further how unbelievable it is that Tate, Amanda, Victor, and their families got to have this experience. And it undoubtedly is one that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

“You need to go stay in another country like I did; it’s just something you need to do!” said Tate, passionately. “You hear all about them and see all the pictures, but it’s seriously nothing compared to actually going and seeing it, smelling it, hearing it…I think everyone should do that.”


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