Friday I completed my first week of the actual semester. I have four classes, but they are a little different than at Madison because they do not meet as often, but each class session is longer, three of my classes are two hours each and one is only once per week for four hours. Other than my Portuguese class, I am taking an International Business class, Brazilian Economics, and an Ecology class. All of the classes are in Portuguese, except the international business class, so I think that is what will be the most challenging part, not the concepts covered themselves. Thankfully, past UW students advised me that the professors are very helpful, but it is necessary for you to reach out to them and explain that the vocabulary in Portuguese is sometimes difficult to comprehend. I took their advice, and both professors were very nice. They said that they would email the notes to me and also look into English versions of the readings if I had trouble understanding them in Portuguese. I know that this will be challenging to take my classes in Portuguese, but I am learning vocab that I would not otherwise be learning either in class or in normal conversations with people I meet.
Before class started this week, I had last week off, except for one day of orientation, which not many people actually showed up to. During the week, I explored some areas of Rio that I had not visited yet, and also went to Búzios last weekend. Búzios is a city about 2.5 hours outside of Rio by bus and it had amazing beaches and a completely different vibe than Rio, although it was less than three hours away. It was very relaxed and quiet, which was weird, but very nice, after living in the hustle and bustle of Rio for the past six weeks. I stayed at a hostel with some friends that and the hostel was not in the downtown area, but we were right across the street from Lake and there was a balcony with a hammock and tables. It was so nice just sitting out on the balcony and talking to the other people at the hostel, who were from other parts of Brazil and South America.
Also, I now have another roommate! There are now two other exchange students living in the same home-stay with me, so me and Megan, my first roommate were a little confused when Carlos arrived because there are only three bedrooms in the apartment. My host mom said that she doesn’t mind sleeping in the living room, though. It has been a lot of fun hanging out with my roommates and I have also met a lot of the family’s relatives.
A friend of my brother’s was in Rio last week, so I got to have a tour-guide role for a few days, which was nice because some of the places we went to, I still had not visited myself. We hiked up Morro de Urca, which had some beautiful views at the top and I also got to see a few wild monkeys up close during the hike. The next day, we went to visit Christo Redentor, and when we got there we were informed that the train to take people to the top “had an accident,” so I am not exactly sure what happened if it actually crashed or was just broken down, but we decided to take a van to the top because the employee at the ticket booth did not recommend walking because a lot of tourists have been robbed in the past on the trail. Throughout this past week, I have also continued to check out some of the different farmers markets in Rio, so I can compare them to the ones I studied in Madison. This has been nice because I know which things I like to buy at different locations, and I have also tried new foods. One drink that I tried this past week was called Garapa (sugar cane juice). They made the juice in front of me, but I don’t think I will buy it again; it was way to sweet in my opinion.
Carnival is quickly approaching! This past Saturday, I visited a few “blocos,” and honestly I had no idea what they would be like before I got there. The first one that I went to had a superhero theme, which I did not know about until arriving, but it didn’t matter that I was not dressed up. This was the first one of the day, and when it was over everyone headed to another block, and the next one I went to was by the lake, and the last one was at the beach. It was a lot of fun, but I was exhausted by the end of the day. There will be many more days like this leading up to Carnival and locals were telling me that they like these better than the actual ones during Carnival because they are not as crowded, but I am still looking forward to seeing all of the Samba costumes during Carnival. The blocos reminded me of Freakfest and Mifflin, but with warm weather, I don’t think I need to explain more, I think you can all imagine what I mean.