Today is day two in Sao Paulo, Brazil and I am absolutely in love! When I arrived yesterday my Brazilian best friend Luccas (from my exchange to Poland) was waiting for me at the airport along with the AIFS group! I hadn’t seen him in a year so my happiness cancelled out the frustrations from a long trip.
My host is Anna whose apartment only a fifteen-minute walk from the school. Anna is so nice and welcoming, just like every other Brazilian I’ve met. I am staying there with two other girls from the program, so after getting settled in, we went to a pizza parlor with our AIFS group to watch the USA-Portugal game. The Brazilians were amused watching a bunch of Americans cheer for the game.
Today we had our free day so our adventurous group went to Stadium Arena Corinthians where the Netherlands was playing Chile. We took the metro across what seemed like all of Sao Paulo! It’s hard to fathom a city of 18 million people… We passed the skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and even favelas. We weren’t allowed to enter the stadium but we got to the main gates where people were checking tickets. I expected the fans to be so rowdy but everyone was polite and friendly! It’s so unreal to be in a country hosting the World Cup. Everything is green and yellow with Brazilian flags hanging from almost every apartment window. I got a Brazilian jersey and flag that I proudly wore around today. The AIFS group got many whistles and chants of “BRASIL” as we walked around in our fan gear. We went to a sushi bar (fun fact: Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese diaspora outside Japan) to watch the Brazil vs. Cameroon game. We tried a caipirinha, a traditional Brazilian drink, and plenty of Brazilian food. My favorites were the pastel (like a cheese empanada), mandioca (potato-like root but fried), and polenta. Seeing Brazil win was INCREDIBLE! Everyone was so hyped and you could hear the entire city cheer as Brazil scored. The Brazilians next to us loved our spirit and kept taking pictures with us.
Brazil so far is unlike anything I expected. The people are so happy, warm, and welcoming. They love strangers and love that we are here experiencing their culture.
Portuguese is such a beautiful language. I already understand a lot and am trying to pick up on what I hear. Tomorrow starts our intensive Portuguese course so I anticipate feeling 10x more confident by the end of this week!