I've been here in Brasil for a little over a month. I can tell you for sure this is an experience every single student should have. I don't mean study abroad in college. I mean living with a completely different family in a completely different language in a completely different country. It's something I will never regret doing. Not only is it a lot of fun but its also very eye opening and you start to see yourself immersing more and more into the culture.
I'm living with a family with four host sister and sometimes the can get a little crazy, but it's good. I'm always busy doing something with someone. I have a weekly routine:
Monday is surprisingly just school
Tuesday I have school then bad with my younger sisters (we're learning to play the trumpet)
Wednesday I have school then football (soccer) then church at night.
Thursday school then band
Friday just school but at night we go to the chakara( which is land my host dad owns in the mountains. He built a cabin on it and has chickens and sugar cane)
Saturday we have spiritist church, which is very interesting. This is defiantly one of my new perspectives I've gained. My family is very religious and are part of the founding of the church we go to. They don't call it a church it's a center. I'm starting to be able to know the beliefs and participate in activities. At home I'm a Unitarian Universalist and honestly it's as if you took that and people who really believed in Jesus as a person and his teaching, plus the book by Allan kardec. They don't have a central minister, the talks are done by different people. They seem to be less about god and more about how to raise your child or who was Jesus as a person and how can we follow his teaching. ( they believe he was the ideal human who came to earth to show us what we should be in order to reincarnate to a higher world.) Every Saturday in the morning is church work day as well as workshops. Young mothers come in for classes while they' ;re kids are in daycare, books are given out, the kids are learning to grow plants, older kids study Allan kardec, we go into the community asking for donations to the poor and we all eat soup together. Then at night they have a small prayer session and everyone breaks into groups. One interesting thing we do is take in peace. It's 10 min of meditating and we do it once on wed. And twice on Saturday. We think about our week and relax while people stand in front of us and cleanse us by moving their arms in front of us from top to bottom. It's very relaxing.
Then on Sunday we have family day, we usually go swimming or go downtown to the park. Brasilia does this awesome thing were they close down a Main Street in half the city. It's closed all day and it's so that people can ride bikes, longboard and walk. It's really amazing to have a city of 2 million people do that every week.
I'll send more updates soon. I love it here in Brasilia!
January 21, 2014
The house cleaner is cleaning my room so im sitting in the living room typing away on my laptop. We don’t have a couch, just 4 tan recliners in front of the TV, two in front for me and my host sister and two behind us for my host parents. Brings an individualistic feeling into the living room that I don’t really like.
Since were at the highest point in Brasilia, which is actually just outside Brasilia, its relatively cold here and the wood floor isn't helping any. I’m in shorts but I’m wearing socks and I’m sneezing into a hanky. I might get another one and tie it around my neck.
>From being alone, away from your parents and in the hands of other parents, you realize how much your parents have taught you. Its like the practical application of everything they ever said that you’ve been hearing for the last 18 years. Thanks guys.
I’m going out for crepes for my host sisters birthday tonight and I can hear her singing in the shower. She sings a lot of different stuff but its mostly American popular music. I was in an interesting conversation about Cuba with a host uncle, I guess that's what I call him. It ended up with me being in an awkward place because I said Cuba was probably one of the only places in the world that had really never been Americanized. Brazilians have a lot of pride about Brasil, as they should, and he asked me if I thought Brasil had been Americanized. To an extent it has although brazil has its own huge culture you can see, especially with music American culture has begun to seep in.
I’m not saying them listening to our music is bad, but I do think us not listening to there music is. And by that I mean more than the literal listening to the music. I mean Americans as a whole are much more shut off from the rest of the world. And were also not doing a good job of presenting ourselves to the world either.
Typical American food: My answer “I'm really not sure… Americans have so much food diversity”
Brazilians think “McDonalds”
The biggest ambassador to the world for the united states is McDonalds. That’s an issue. In the U.S were not too fond of our largest corporations, but those are the entities that represent us overseas. I think it would be interesting to see what McDonalds pays employees here.
I miss home, the beach, friends, family. I basically got through the holidays pretending it wasn't the holidays. And it didn't really feel like it, my family had a house party but there was not clown, Santa Claus, elf, or pie. It’s obvious that stores are trying to make it more consumer driven, however the gift giving seemed like a very small part of Christmas. It was a very non eventful gift exchange. I was coming out of my room to get something to eat and while we were all standing we exchanged one gift to each person, and that was it. It was the middle of the day and we all just went about our own business. Made me miss home but I’m not sure a non consumerized Christmas was such a bad thing.
Minas Gerias is a huge state about 5 hours away and we spent a week in Divinopolis about 10 hours away. We drove. It took forever, but I slept most the way. Brasil is a beautifully green country. With beautiful landscape that goes on forever. Our highways here shield you from the country. 6 lanes of cars with trees tall on either side and a fence. The largest highway that went through that part of the country was two lanes going over hills, rivers, country side. It was all what we would call in the states backroads. Here the backroads are all dirt roads.
Divinopolis was extremely hot, over 100 F or 40 C. We ate a lot of Acai, which we don’t have in the states. It’s like acai ice cream, but its made of just the berry so more like a smoothie that has the consistency of ice cream and is placed in a bowl. The men just played cards and the women went shopping because the city is a main manufacturer of clothes and the prices are very inexpensive.
The next 3 days after that week were the best. we went to a small city called Santa fe de Minas. No cell phone signal and no internet.
A very small city with just dirt and brick roads. Surrounding the city is a coal factory, eucalyptus trees (burned to make the coal) and soybean fields. Brazil being one of if not the largest producers of soybeans in the world.
We were in the city for the wedding of one of the sisters in the family. The wedding was very catholic with lots of praying and blessing the couple. It was in the center of the town at one of the two churches.
The city had a river that ran through it.
Before we went to santa fe we spent new years eve/day at a small farm. Its the second time ive been able to ride a horse (both in Brasil) but this time I went on a long ride with my host mom. We went on down the main road until we came to the bottom of a hill with a cross on top. not an unusual sight in Brasil. With my old host dad we scaled one of these hills in Vale de almanecer. Which is a religious community that grew into its own city.
With my host cousins in Santa Fe I made friends fast. It turns out everyone young that I was with was from outside santa Fe. It was just a small town where they had family and they spent there summers there.
It was a small town with one main street, one gas station, and one pizza place.
We spent the first night at the pizzaria playing cards.
Truco, which is probably the most popular card game here, is played with just about half the deck. Although there are many variations. Paulista, Bahiano, Normal, Santa Fe.
Everyone is delt 3 cards and you play in a team of two against another team of two. Some cards are worth more than others. After you go around three times that round is over and you play another. Each player plays a card and the one with the highest card wins the match, and if you win 2 of the three matches in the round you win the round.
Its a fun game and for the first night we spent almost the entire night playing truco and eating pizza.
The next day we spent in the river eating mangos and talking about a chicken that some of my cousins friends and stolen. It later turned out that there were three chickens, the last of which I helped cook on our last night.
The wedding was that night and we danced Foho and ate plenty of food. foho is danced to foho or to sertanejo. Its danced fast or slow and is pretty fun. similar steps as salsa. I picked it up pretty fast and im going out this friday with friends of my host sister and her to dance.
After the wedding we went to a party, which was at a farm within walking distance of the city. It was a roped off area with the back of a car parked off to one side and a dj next to the car. This car had two huge speakers, that had to be held up by posts, sticking out of the tail gate.
It was way two loud but we had a fun time.
The next day we woke up really late and went over the the family churrasco. We ate all the left overs from the wedding.
And that night we went to a friends house, Alexis (boys name in brazil) we played truco, learned how to dance/fight/play capoeira. (just a little) and we cooked the last stolen chicken. It was really late by the time we finished doing all that and we went down to the river to look at the stars.
Its the only time in my life (minus Canada maybe) I’ve ever seen the stars like that. I saw shooting stars and constellations. We could make out some of what we thought might be planets. It was really humbling. we don't even compare to the stars. We watched the sunrise that morning from the stadium of the city. There was a small little door that we crawled through to get in. It would have been much easier to walk through the gaping hole in the wall on the other side.
I’m back in Brasilia and I start school again tomorrow. It looks like i might not be going though because my host grandma passed away tonight.
I’ve since made good friends with my sisters friends and we've had two churrascos in one weekend. We’ve played truco, danced foho and gone out to .50 cent pizza places. The chicken on the pizza comes with cartilage.
Today I spent the day at a massive flea market. Feira de paraguay.
Ive come to think of Brasilia as my home. Not of this house or my old host house as my home but the city as a whole. Because I live a little ways outside the city Ive become accustomed to sleeping at my old house, or at my next host families house. Im used to the bus system, the metro, just walking. I recognize good places to eat. I pass as Brazilian, I usually come across as not brasilia after a decent conversation. The passing Portuguese I have no accent.
I’m really happy with being here and It’s halfway over. I have to decide my return date soon. I have the World Cup to think about. It looks like I may be able to get tickets. To some random game but still…
I miss home, but I love it here. I know this won't be the last time I take an extended stay in a foreign country. It's not so foreign anymore. I gave directions the other day and I was spot on.