The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Nya Patton. Nya is spending the first part of her gap year in Brazil working on rainforest conservation with Iracambi.

When I arrived to Brazil, I had this overwhelming sense of pride. I had made it to this country thousands of miles away from home, all by myself, ready for whatever adventure the journey would bring and with a sense of confidence that regardless of what was thrown at me I would be able to handle it. Francis, a fellow Gapper, met me at the GIG Airport, and then dropped me off at the bus station to embark on a series of rides into the rainforest. The further into the Atlantic Rainforest I traveled, the more rural the area got. This made communication with others harder and harder (as the number of people who understood English decreased)- yet I didn’t see this as a barrier, but as a challenge I could overcome.

Once I made it to my house, without much time to really reflect on the journey or connect with those I loved, I was thrown straight into my work. Right away I began to learn and absorb the minutiae of my responsibilities and the inner workings of the organization. I loved it. I felt empowered, I felt proud, and I felt independent. As the days passed and the excitement of those feelings went away, I was left with the fact that I am at just the beginning of a year long journey in which I am going to be thousands of miles away from my comfort zone, my community, and my family.

Measuring and monitoring plants planted a year ago to reforest the Atlantic Rainforest!

After a week had passed, my friend Sien, a Dutch girl who never fails to make sure everyone around her is comfortable, came to check on me. We decided to go on a hike and I shared the many feelings and thoughts circulating my head, even though I felt bad about even allowing myself to feel sad in the first place. I will never forget what she said to me. “Nya, firstly, do not beat yourself for being human. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come with that. And secondly, while you are adjusting to a completely new environment, at least give yourself a week; go through the motions, feel the fear, and truly know that these feelings are temporary and once that week is over- everything is going to be okay.”

I can officially say, now that the week is over, and I have adjusted to this beautiful new environment and have begun to feel at home, I would recommend everyone to give themselves a week- feel all of the emotions of moving to a new country, but know that you can and will adapt!