These past two weeks have been quite exciting. My brother was here last week, so I visited many new places in the city that I have not done yet, and had my first exam for a class other than Portuguese. I also celebrated my 21st birthday, which was the same day as the Final Four game.
The week that my brother (Justin) was here, we did a lot of stuff, including the beach, some hikes, and visited the city of Niteroi for a day to go to the Contemporary art museum. This was a lot of fun because to get to the city we had to take a ferry from downtown Rio. A lot of people have to use the ferry everyday for commuting, which I imagine would be frustrating because it is pretty slow, but the views of Rio are beautiful. When I got off the ferry, I wasn’t exactly sure which direction to go, so I stopped at the tourist information booth, and asked them in Portuguese the best way to go. Then when walking out, Justin said, “thank you,” and they said, “oh, you speak English, we could have given directions in English!” This situation made me feel excited and confident that when I was using my Portuguese they didn’t immediately think I was a foreigner. When I first arrived in Rio my speaking was not very good at all. Famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the museum, and it is shaped like a flying saucer. He designed several buildings in Niterói and most of the buildings in the capital city of Brasilia. It was nice to go this week because for my Brazilian Economics class, I watched a documentary about Brasilia, so it was interesting to see some of his work in person.
A few weeks ago, I started volunteering with a program called NEAM, which is an educational partnership with my university here and some of the local public schools. I was assigned a student named Gabriel, and I tutor him in science and geography. Teaching has made me learn a lot of Portuguese words that I would not necessarily learn in class or everyday conversation. Last week he had a test covering 9/11, which was very interesting to teach, and he told me that he did very well on the test.
This past weekend was my 21st birthday! Although in Brazil, 21 is not as significant because 18 is the legal age for everything here (driving, drinking, voting, etc), I still had a lot of fun celebrating with my friends. On the day of my birthday, my friend Alli’s host mom, Vanda, had a churrasquinho (small BBQ) for me. This was so much fun, and all of the food was delicious. After the BBQ, I watched the Badgers final four game with some other students from Madison. We were all wearing a ton of red, and even though Wisconsin lost, it was a great game.
This upcoming week will be very busy for me with two exams and a presentation at the end of the week, but then this weekend, PUC organized a day trip to a farm in the city of Barra do Piraí. The farm was converted into an ecotourism hotel, so I am looking forward to the trip.