I arrived safely in Brazil! I’ve been here 2 weeks thus far. Our academic classes haven’t started yet; we had 1 weekend of orientation, and 2 weeks of Portuguese language classes. I’m amazed at the quantity of information I’ve already learned in such a short period of time. Learning while abroad feels completely different than in a classroom. I could write a novel about my experiences and everything I’ve learned so far, which I often can’t do after an entire semester of a class.
The friends I’ve made from America, the locals I’ve met in Rio, the culture of Brazil and Latin America, the history of Brazil and South America, the foods and culinary norms here, the music and dancing… each of them is intriguing and wonderful, so together the combination is AMAZING.
The difference in Brazilian culture regarding timeliness and organization is jolting. I am known for running late back in the US, and I am always feeling early in Brazil. We were warned that classes will never start on time, and to expect any meetings to start within 30 minutes of the planned time. As this is a reflection of the laid-back, relaxed, go-with-the-flow attitude engrained in locals, it is a stress relief and something worth getting accustomed to. However, the organization and preparation of classes and government documentation processes has been frustrating to become accustomed to. My instinct was to be upset with our IES center staff for a lack of effort, but I quickly learned that they were not to blame. All other local organizations work at a much slower pace, so it has been difficult setting up programs, such as classes at partner universities, volunteering with local organizations, or registering with the federal police.
The crime here is exactly as I was prepared for… petty theft is a constant concern (5 of my 33 classmates have already gotten their wallets stolen from their purses). Violent theft is also a concern on public transportation, but it happens very rarely and we have been trained in how to handle those situations as safely as possible. Violent crimes and protests are increasing rapidly in Rio because of social issues, many being more provoked by World Cup preparations, but it is easy to avoid certain areas of the city and stay safe that way.
Tolerating ambiguity is something that has come naturally to me over the years. It has been coming in extremely handy while exploring this foreign country, and my tolerance has undoubtedly increased and will increase significantly more in the next 4 months. I have been forced to be more independent while navigating the public transportation. I have no choice but to be patient while learning this new language and trying to communicate with people solely using hand gestures. I have nothing to complain about when I select something on the menu by closing my eyes and pointing to something (since I can’t read any of the ingredients or foods).
It’s fascinating how much I have been able to get around the past 2 weeks with my extremely limited vocabulary of: “yes” “no” “please” “thank you” “sorry” “hello” “goodbye” along with the name of my street address.
Internet access has been very inconsistente, and I’ve been having some issues with technology compatability, so I will work hard to share the photos and vídeos I have of this beautiful place!
More Blogs From This Author
<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'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>