What a crazy couple of weeks! My last post was July 1st (and then my computer’s battery died…).
July 2 was my birthday and the AIFS students as well as my Brazilian friends made it one of my most memorable. Daisy and Grace, two of the AIFS students I live with, surprised me at midnight with a birthday cake. In our Portuguese class we had a field trip to the Museum of Football at Estadio Municipal. The trip was well-timed with the World Cup but it was definitely a little too much soccer for me to appreciate! Our group and other students from FAAP went out to Rua Augusta, the area with Sao Paulo’s nightlife, that night to conclude my birthday celebration. The clubs in Sao Paulo are very different from anything I’ve experienced-the music, the dancing, the social interactions, everything! I love hearing remixes to an American song with Brazilian “funk” mixed in.
On Saturday I spent the day with my Brazilian friends Luccas and Luiza (from Curitiba), other exchange students from Brazil (and Poland!) that I met on my exchange to Poland in 2012, and Luccas’ Brazilian friends. We went to Parque da Independencia, a park with a hill that has been transformed into a skate park. After the park, they brought me to Luccas’ house for a surprise party, churrasco (BBQ) and cake. Brazilians have a special way of making you feel so loved; I’m definitely going to miss this the most. My experience so far has really exceeded my expectations! The excursions we take and the accommodations at the school in Sao Paulo have made my time in Brazil so enjoyable.
On Sunday, Giovanna, our Resident Director, took us to Embu das Artes, a small market town outside of Sao Paulo. I was glad to get a small taste of what “rural Brazil” is like, even if there were tourists. We tried traditional cachaca (a Brazilian liqueur) and went to a typical Brazilian restaurant to eat feijoada (stew of black bean and pork), churrasco (grilled meat), polenta, pasteis, and rice and beans, for the vegetarian-me. I am definitely getting a bit sick of the food since I’m limited to a lot of rice and beans, bread, pizza, and cheese. BUT for all you meat-lovers, Sao Paulo is the place for your taste buds to explore.
July 8th, the day of the Germany v. Brazil game. I’ll just skip over the details of the game and tell you that after the loss, I did not experience a single riot or “crazy” Brazilian who made me feel unsafe. The media portrays Brazil in a way that fails to accurately show the actual state of the country. All the Brazilians I know and encountered after the game were just sad and actually cheered for Germany because Brazilians have an intense rivalry with Argentina.
For the Brazil v. Netherlands game to decide third place, Giovanna took us to a Samba Club. Instead of watching the game on the big screen, the Brazilians decided to samba and listen to live music. I, with my very very minimal dance skills, finally learned how to samba to the delight of all the Brazilian women at the club who were calling me the sweet little “gringa”.
The final World Cup game came as a relief to me, sorry, soccer fans! After the loss, Brazilians seemed to drift back into normalcy- no days off from work or school and taking down all the World Cup paraphernalia. It’s an interesting cultural experience to see the transition between the excitement of hosting the World Cup and a typical Brazilian winter.
In order to respect the embassy’s terms for a visa, all foreigners must register with the Federal Police within 30 days of arriving in Brazil. Thankfully, Giovanna organized all of our paperwork and appointments so we were able to go as a group. Eventhough you must make an appointment with the Police, there were endless lines when we got to the station. Later, we learned that thousands of African refugees are trying to gain refugee status in Brazil to flee the conditions of their home countries. I had not expected to see refugees from so far away, but it was a very sobering experience for our group, and made us thankful to live in the United States and be in Brazil for such a positive experience rather than escaping violence and war.
Later that week I was able to see my friend from Florida who was on exchange with me in Poland! The world is so small. She is in Brazil for the summer with her Brazilian boyfriend (also from our exchange in Poland). They were visiting his uncle in Sao Paulo and I was able to see them for two nights. I’ve seen more people from my exchange during my month in Brazil than in a year in the US!