I arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. Right after getting off the plane, there was a blast of hot air. The temperature was around 95 degrees, so this means that it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in Wisconsin…
When I arrived at my host family’s apartment, there were security guards in the lobby who helped me with my bags and showed me where to go, and when I got upstairs my host parents’ daughter and granddaughter greeted me. None of them speak English, so I used the little Portuguese I know to introduce myself. (meu nome é Paul, eu sou dos Estados Unidos em Washington DC, etc…) The language difference will be hard, especially at first, but I think that it will make me learn Portuguese much faster. The family is also hosting another student from Florida, and she knows a little more Portuguese than me, so this has helped with the communication, and the family is also trying to learn English, so it has been fun to teach them a few words.
One main difference that I was not expecting in the apartment is that there is not air-conditioning, and this is not just at my apartment, most other people do not have it either because the electricity rates in Rio are extremely expensive according to residents. This has not been that bad, though because they have huge windows, cold showers, and refreshing açaí (pronounced ah-sah-EE) smoothies on every street corner.
My host family’s apartment is in an excellent location in Copacabana, about three blocks from the beach, so I have been taking advantage of this before I get too busy with classes. The beach is beautiful as you can see in the pictures below. Later that afternoon, I met up with some other students from UW to go to a Samba show at Padra do Sol, which is an outdoor public square where local musicians perform, and the audience dances and hangs out. It was a similar vibe to a house party, but with live music.
–>Below is a picture of the tent where groups performed and some of the graffiti on the side of the building
Monday: I was up early to go to my orientation at PUC-Rio, which is in the Gávea neighborhood, so I took a bus, which took approximately 30 minutes. A few differences between the busses in the US and Rio are that even though there are bus stops, you need to flag down busses, or else they will not stop, and on the bus, there is another employee besides the driver that makes change for customers.
At the orientation, the international coordinator went over some distinct aspects of Brazilian culture. Some of these items include that for meetings it is acceptable to arrive ten minutes late because the first part of every meeting is informal conversation. She also explained that Brazilians never arrive to parties until an hour after the start time, and that Brazilians are much more touchy in conversation than other cultures. All of this information was very interesting to me and will be helpful for me.
I met a lot of people today and there are students from all over the US, Europe and South America, but at-least half seem to be from California.
PUC is in a very forested area as you can see below
I have done a lot in the past three days, and I am excited to keep exploring the city and meeting new people at PUC along the way.