Learning true friendship in Brazil and Germany with Janice Laraine

Conversations with Wanderlusters...Interview series.

Join me as I wonder into the lives and minds of Wanderlusters. They share with me their travel stories, navigating their return home and stepping into an inspired adventures life.

Janice Laraine loves adventure travel and gets outdoors at every opportunity she gets. When she is not climbing, snowboarding, or camping, she designs websites and brands for adventurous female entrepreneurs. Her goal is to help them design a lifestyle that gives them the opportunity to travel and experience life.

Janice has travelled many places but the stand out was Brazil. Travelling solo during the 2014 Soccer World Cup. She stayed with a family and had to pick up Portuguese fairly quickly to make her life easy. During her time there, she kayaked down the Amazon River, went to a popular summer event in Fortaleza, and made new friends in Rio de Janeiro. 

What were the stand out moments of your travels?

It was my first time doing a solo trip. When I got there, I felt very welcomed and got the local experience, which encouraged me to pick up the language quickly. My outstanding highlight was when I negotiated a 90% discount to spend 5 days going down the Amazon River by translating the tour guide's website to Spanish. It was amazing.

I got really close to nature, slept in hammocks, and paddled myself down the river. I tried piranha and lived like the people along the river. It was an eye-opening experience. From there, I got the itch to see other places while I was in Brazil, and I decided on going to two other cities before going home.

 
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What challenges did you face when returning home?

I wanted to keep traveling! I did not want to start working at the job I had lined up before I graduated. I had the opportunity to go to Germany due to a friendship that formed from my helping out two Germans with their unexpected travel issue in Brazil.

It was a struggle to explain this to my parents but it was also a learning experience for us all. I was growing into an independent adult.

What emotions and feelings did you experience upon returning home?

I wished that American culture was more like Brazil's. In fact, I realised that Brazilian culture was similar to my Panamanian culture. Families are close, friends are close, and everyone is friendly and helpful. I wanted that for my brother and with my friends.

It made me think about the friends that I have and how surface-level they are. I realised that I didn't really have any close friends - at least none I could depend on. I think this lasted for about a few weeks before I decided to go to Germany (after coming home from Brazil). But coming home from Germany, I felt the same way because friends are even more close, reliable, and trustworthy. Wish I had that.

What strategies did you use to move through this phase after returning home? 

I focused on doing well at work. It was a new city so it was kind of exciting, meeting new people in my similar situation. It was my first time living on my own and it was a great experience. I think being in a new place helped me get past that because everyone was new. It was like starting over.

How did your travels inspire your next steps? 

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I kept making it a point to travel and even brought my mom along on my next trip. Later, I took my dad on a different trip for his birthday.

Travel is such an eye-opening experience. I don't think I could ever stop. The biggest thing it made me want to do was start an international organisation for the Deaf so that deaf children everywhere can have access to education. As a bonus, it would also be cool to see sign language become universal.

Your biggest lesson learned from travels and returning home? 

My biggest lesson I learned was that I am strong and interdependent. It made me reflect on the things I had done and the places I had seen, and I was grateful for it all. I think more importantly, I learned how to take a moment to be grateful every day.

What mindset shifts changed for you after travel and returning home? 

I'm a much more open person. I was more conservative and a little closed minded because I only knew what I knew at the time. After traveling and learning about different cultures, I've really been open to everything. It's an amazing feeling.

What advice would you give others to prepare for re-entry/reverse culture shock? 

Remember that you are coming home to a different culture. Just like when you visit a new place, you learn about that culture, so you prepare yourself for the same when you go home. Time changes things. Change, with the right mindset, is good :)

Connect with Janice


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