The Closest Thing to “Snow Days” in Rio

Danni Askew
June 2, 2014

That feeling of waking up early in the morning…
Seeing an email from your professor…
Subject: “Class Cancelled”…
Get to sleep in…
Have an unexpected extra 24 hours to finish homework…
Except how will you spend your day? You’re a bit limited…
Maybe just a relaxing day at home…


Growing up in North Dakota, I know this feeling well. “Snow days” are the dream of all kids (and many adults) in winter months. Although we are accustomed to toughing out cold weather and blizzards, in a lifetime, we’ve all had a few days of school cancelled due to uncontrollable weather conditions which cause limited transportation. Being in Brazil, where daily temperatures are between 60-100 degrees everyday all year round and the biggest weather threat being a rain storm, I absolutely did not expect to get any “snow days” here!


However, last Tuesday, I woke up and went through the exact same process as listed above! What caused that surprise cancellation in Rio?



Due to many complicated political and social events going on, most of which are related in some way to the upcoming World Cup, there have been may protests throughout the city in the past few months. Most of the are nonviolent, but they all have the potential of becoming violent. Most of them have been happening in the city’s center, which is a few miles away from my home or school, so they haven’t directly affected my days up until now.

This week, though, the city transportation workers (mostly bus drivers, some metro/train coordinators) went on strike. Although this strike was not intended to be violent, there were some violent outbursts towards the very few busses still running. More directly though, it’s almost impossible to get to school without the public bus system. So, similar to snow storms, we were stranded at home!

Granted, yes, it IS possible to get to school. But the only 2 options are either walking 3-6 miles or taking a taxi (which would be about $20 each way), so all of the students were very relieved that our program decided to cancel school.  Many businesses around the city were able to stay open, but the roads was quieter than usual and citizens were frazzled trying to find ways to get around the city.

This happened for two days in a row! Very similar to snow days, it was even MORE exciting the second morning to wake up and hear that you have another day off of school. **Update: Two weeks later, we had yet another day of school cancelled for the same reason.

For selfish reasons, I was very happy to get a few free days off of school. But it was hard to enjoy the days or relax completely when you know there are so many people unhappy with the status of their life and society.

I am thankful that the types of planned public protests in Rio have not been violent to the point of injuring many people, they are mostly political stands. A different day last week, the city police force went on strike for 24 hours, so there was a lot of concern that the city would become violent during that time frame; but as far as I heard, nothing too far out-of-the-norm occurred. For the record, throughout all of this, I have felt very safe living in Rio and traveling between school and my home. Our program sends us text updates and email alerts of all planned public protests and gives us advice on how to avoid them and stay safe. The process of studying abroad in the midst of bigger social changes is fascinating, and I highly recommend researching the social and political issues happening in Rio right now!

Danni Askew

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a junior studying sociology, public health, mathematics, and leadership at the University of Minnesota. I&#39;m passionate about music and express that passion through an all-female a cappella choir on campus. In my free time, I enjoy playing classical guitar, percussion, piano, and writing music. During every summer, I work at a summer camp in northern North Dakota; I love outdoor adventures and working with kids.</span></p>

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