Genteliza Gera Genteliza: Kindness Generates Kindness and Other Great Things to Consider While Abroad

Angie Martinez
February 15, 2016

My first week in Rio de Janeiro has been a whirlwind of experiences! Even getting to Rio was quite difficult. As I made my way to the airport I realized that of course I was already running late. Then when I arrived I was held up by immigration. Brazil is not relaxed when it comes to extended visitors, they really want to make sure you´re leaving Brazil before your visa expires - and since I didn´t have the proof to show I would be leaving Brazil, it definitely took longer to be allowed to board my plane. So if I can offer any advice I´d say prepare for everything and make it to the airport early because what can go wrong will! Now I had plenty of time during my flight to think idly about my trip, but all I kept thinking about was how lucky and privileged I was to be on this flight to experience Rio and all it had to offer. I definitely have my parents and everyone who supported me to be thankful for. Even if dealing with international flights was frustrating – at least I made it!

The first thing I learned and already kind of assumed was that locals will love you when you avoid saying you're from the United States. You´ll also get better prices from street vendors - not exactly by a lot but you´ll definitely be better off than the tourist who only speaks English. Which made me question a lot about my own identity. I genuinely never thought on this trip to Latin America that I would learn more about the people in my very own country, and my peers, than of those whose country I am visiting. I suppose growing up in a predominately Latino neighborhood in Chicago made it difficult to meet outsiders of our small community. I think this trip is going to teach me a lot about what it means to be American and if I can actually relate to that.

I´ve learned a lot from IES Abroad staff and my host mom on Brazilian culture and just general life rules. My host mother, for example said, if you are not giving you are not living - now she was talking about the love and care she gives to her home, but she mentioned this can be relevant to anything that requires long term commitments, like children and relationships - they may seem like a hassle, but ultimately it´s these responsibilities that give you purpose. I love this, and think it´s a great mantra to carry with yourself throughout hard life transitions. Now my program directors have been amazingly helpful and incredibly informational, and my favorite thing they repeat (and the title of my post) is ´genteliza gera genteliza´, kindness generates kindness. It´s easy to forget that so many of us come from such different backgrounds, and what we are used to may not be what other people are used to but we must always remember to respect each other. Everyone in your program may not always love everyone else - but we can always be kind and learn from each other. 

Some fun facts about Rio, the days are long and it´s always hot! Sometimes the weather can make me sleepy and tired - but it´s always beach weather (just remember sunblock!!!). Also for everyone who thinks a background in Spanish will immediately help with Portuguese - you're in for a surprise! Portuguese does not sound like Spanish when the locals speak it, and only a hand full of people around the city will know Spanish, you're more likely to find someone who knows English. But hey, at least Portuguese is a great language to learn. Another part of being in this program with IES Abroad means not taking part in any activity deemed too dangerous - which is fine by me because I've quickly realized commuting through the city is dangerous enough! Seriously, taxi drivers, bus drivers, any drivers - they're all insane! But once you start getting around the city and get you bus card and Brazilian phone, you really start to feel like you’re really here and really here to stay.

My first week taught me about incredible amount of information and it’s been hard to really take it all in and process it, but now that I’m getting into a routine and understanding where I belong I think these next few weeks in Rio should be fun! I’m very happy to be here and so excited for what’s in store!



I hear the singing of the waves.
We all want to follow the sun, they say.
Sole bodies, we float a top trembling waters.
Reach for the golden locks of change for hungry daughters.
My maternal hands and those before me relinquish our qualms,
beyond the body of Eve, we sacrifice our bare bones and palms.

In search for brand new gifts to share
we own our love and our choice to care.



More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs