Karoliina Loimaala: Exhange studies in Brazil
Why Brazil and how does it feel to be in there?
For me it was important to leave Europe. We are still living in a post-colonial era that is running around Europe, as well as United States. One way for me to fight against eurocentrism is to meet other places in person and experience them at a ground level, talk with the people, face differences. If I can go and learn within another culture, I find that extremely valuable.
For me it is important to get an immersive sensorial experience of other kind of climate, social structure, language, to meet people living in different circumstances than I do and be in a place that is unknown for me and that may even be uncomfortable. People are migrating more and more and the movement between places and states is only growing. One of the ways for me to be able to help this growth in a positive way, is to join the movement in a way that I can, and go to the position of not knowing.
At the same time, I do recognise my very privileged position of being able to do this kind of a trip.
Brazil for me, seems to be rather opposite from Finland. Differences in classes, poor and rich are huge. The country is gigantic, only each state is seriously big. You can fit Finnish population thrice in only São Paulo.
In social situations where the Finns are often very low key, have a vast personal space and are modest and silent, Brazilians are singing with their Portuguese language, touchy, embracing you with a brilliant smile, welcoming you each time no matter where you are, and overwhelming you with kindness. There is a saying here that happiness has nothing to do with money, and I agree.
Another big difference is in spirituality. There is a strong connection to nature religions, religions that combine those of the Indigenous people, Christianity and African religions. I practice Brazilian Jiu jitsu, and that was actually my first step towards Brazil. I feel a difference in dojo, where I go if not daily, at least four times a week. It is not a competitive sport where I go here, but closer to the spiritual methodology of martial arts, which has to do with building a peaceful world and understanding of yourself and everything around you.
I had a very strong intuition of a need to come here. Sometimes I feel we don’t decide things we engage with, but they decide for us.
There is a strong oral tradition in storytelling, and I feel I am learning a lot about the country by listening to people. Simultaneously I am focusing on a concept of a landscape in my work, and Florianópolis is the most beautiful island and environment for that, being full of nature. Funny coincidence.
In the next post I will give you a glimpse into my studies out here.
Write is Karoliina Loimaala, an exchange student of Choreography of the University of the Arts in Helsinki in Udesc, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, programme of Master of Theatre, in Florianópolis, Brazil.