"Eu não falo português" & Other Important Lessons for Rio Amateurs

Ramelcy Uribe
March 3, 2015

If you’re reading this, you can probably guess I’ve made it to Rio de Janeiro safely and in one piece! I’ve officially been here for 14 (WHOLE) days, and although Rio is really an amazing city full of style, art, and vibrancy, it is not for amateurs as I heard during my first week here. I don’t say this to scare people and students away from Rio, but to talk honestly about my experience so far.

Rio has challenged me both in an academic context and socially. Do ya’ll remember when I said Duolingo had taught me some things…well apparently, not enough! Learning Portuguese has been a very exciting and humbling experience, where my patience has been tested quite a bit. Although being fluent in Spanish has helped with comprehension, pronunciation presents its own hurdle in navigating the city and Carioca culture. (Cariocas are Rio natives!) Thankfully, intensive Portuguese and practice conversations with both my roommate Anngie and Host mom Patricia have helped minimize the learning curve quite a bit. (Also special shout-out to my IES peers and staff who constantly answer my questions and repeat Portuguese words with me as I try to remember them. Ya’ll the real MVP’s!)

Another Rio challenge has been navigating its transportation system. Tracking down which bus I need to go home, making it onto the bus, and then managing to get to my seat as the bus speeds off, is a an adventure all in itself. I am happy to say I feel like I am starting to really get a hang of it with the wonderful assistance of my roommate and our handy-dandy tourist map the first couple of days.

Last but not least, I have to talk about the very real feelings of anxiety and fear when navigating a new city like Rio that has so much going on as well as a complex social environment. These feelings are real and valid. I am giving myself and my friends time and space to get passed these feelings at our own pace. Whether students are coming from a city, suburbs, or small town, adjusting takes time and patience. It is not a process I want to rush nor invalidate. As of now, I go on small outings and mini-adventures to become more acquainted and comfortable with this new space and journey.

Ultimately, I am trying to be patient with myself and process in whatever form it takes. I definitely agree that Rio is not for amateurs, but as experts of our own experiences and ever-learning folks, who else would be a better visitor here?  

Ramelcy Uribe

<div>I&#39;m a student, a friend, a naturalista, a budding activist, a writer, a wom@nist/feminist, an intellectual, a Tupac-lover, a New Yorker, and a person in process all wrapped in one. I&#39;m living on the hyphen of many identities that allow me to see the world in a critical, refreshing way; and at the intersections of many struggles and journeys that I would love for you to join me on. :)</div>

2015 Spring
Home University:
Haverford College
Explore Blogs