This is the second post by Ayron Paige Gallop, an AFS student from South Africa on exchange in Brazil. Ayron is one of the young deserving students who received the 2017 Investing in Africa’s Future Leaders scholarship to participate in a year-long school exchange programme with AFS.



I have now been in Brazil for just over three months and I cannot begin to explain what a whirlwind it has been. From the day I stepped foot on Brazilian soil my whole life was changed and I cannot thank enough everyone who made that possible for me.

I have changed host families and I am now happier than ever. Two weeks ago I moved to a new family and we could not be a better fit for each other. We have the same interests, enjoy the same activities and are very organised people. We go on walks in the parks around the city, go to the gym and share wonderful conversations everyday. Occasionally we will watch a movie but we have both come to realise that we prefer being active outside.

I live in the capital city of my state. It is a picturesque environment covered with vibrant green trees and numerous parks. There are also a large number of enormous shopping malls which create a perfect environment for friends to meet up. There are also huge markets on the weekends where true Brazilian spirit can be felt. My city is very big so I have not yet had the opportunity to see and experience everything it has to offer but I can say with most certainty that my favourite aspect about my city is the people. Brazilians in general are very loud, happy people, always laughing and singing. Putting this type of culture in a stunning environment that is Brazil, makes for the best living area.

There are countless differences between my home country and my host country. Primarily, the environments are very different. Brazil has very green environment strewn with trees on every open piece of land whereas South Africa lacks the water support to create a green environment. The condition of roads in Brazil is unbelievable, there is no piece of road without a hole or uneven ground, but this adds character. Brazilians also drive on the other side of the road and cars are designed opposite to those in South Africa, with the steering wheel on the right. A very important difference is the food. While the types of foods are the same, preparation and how you eat it is very different. Brazilians don’t eat with spices or sauce and the food is very bland compared to the delicious flavours of South Africa. And, of course, Brazil does have its unique foods that are mouth-watering.

I can already fell how much I have grown, not only in size from all the food, but from becoming independent, less shy and able to make decisions on my own without wondering what others will think. I can only hope I will continue to grow and return a better person.