WAAG Week 6: I Took a Break From Writing Half-Way Through the Week

Monday

Walking home from work today, I saw my first protest in Brazil.

Ever since I got here, I kept hearing about the protests. Before we left for the shopping mall, N would check to see if there were any protests blocking the streets where we would be driving, and once she and her cousin got stuck at their university for a few hours because the protests were keeping the busses from running normally.

Both times, the protest had been regarding some old buildings. The Brazilian government had recently sold the public property to a private company, who wanted to knock down the buildings and build high rises in their stead. The Brazilian public was unhappy because the government had sold the public property quietly and without consulting the public.

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I have to say that the protests were a lot tamer than I expected. Many of the people were jumping and running around, laughing. There were police officers present, but definitely not enough to quell a riot if one indeed broke out. N told me that most Brazilian protests were relatively tame.

After I got home, I tried to make some homemade dishes for my host family. They didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped, but I tried.

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Right now, I’m watching a prison documentary – Inside Death Row by Trevor McDonald. Capital punishment has been on my mind ever since news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death a few days ago. It’s sad to see what the prisoners’ lives are like, but when the men describe their crimes they are even more chilling.

Tuesday

Today has been relatively quiet, so I wanted to take the time to look back on my work here so far. I talk a lot about the touristic places I’ve visited in Brazil, but ultimately I’m here on a Social Marketing project.

I remember my second day on the job, when we went out afterwards for sushi. I asked some other interns what they do at work, since they also work in SMarketing, but for a different NGO.

J*: (laughs) I’ve only been working for a day, ask B*.

B*: (laughs) I’ve only been working for two weeks, ask the other interns.

It was all in a joking setting, but it kind of got me thinking about how this exchange really involves taking initiative. I’m not sure if this is true for other countries, but in Brazil it sometimes seems as if the NGO does not need you at all. Since you aren’t assigned anything to do, at the beginning I was a little lost. Should I just hang around waiting to see if anything comes my way? The reality of the situation is that the workers are often too busy trying to keep the organization running and the kids in check; they don’t have time to baby-sit you as well. Most of the day, I barely interact with the supervisors. I haven’t been in a job where I’ve been given this much free reign before, so it took some time to get used to.

In contrast, working alongside E* has actually been a great learning experience. I guess that I expected working alongside a Latin American to be difficult just because of the difference in our cultural backgrounds as well as the language barrier, but so far it’s going surprisingly smoothly. I had the notion drilled in my head that the workplace was a lot more relationship-based rather than project-based. I guess that I had warped this information in my head, because the reality wasn’t at all what I expected! The first week, E* and I shared a lot about our respective cultures with each other and learned more about each other personally. But then it was down to business: drafting our plan for our time, talking with our supervisor and then executing the steps – very project-based. I guess our knowledge of each other helped because we could play off each other’s strengths and stay away from our weaknesses when it came to completing the tasks. Since he is slightly better (read: a lot better) at Portuguese than I am, he took charge of interviewing the kids, while I put together the English website since I was a little more savvy in that area. Is this the extent of what all those textbooks were talking about when it came to working together with Latin Americans? I guess my imagination had exaggerated the reality.

Aside from the actual work, spending my time simply surviving in this other country has helped me to gain some confidence in how well I am able to adapt to situations. I’ve always had this inner fear about taking on more than I can handle, which keeps me from taking calculated risks that would be good for me. My upcoming coop term has made me especially anxious because the possibility of relocating, especially to a big city like Toronto. But I feel like these past few weeks have taught me that if I can survive on a different continent by myself without knowing the language, I can survive anywhere! *fistpump*

Oh, here’s another cake thing my host family made for me today.

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As usual, I don’t know what this is. It was wobbly like jello and tasted like corn. Corn jello?

Canadians aren’t nice, we just think we are

“Why are Canadians so cold?”

I did a presentation on Canada to a group of Brazilian students last week with B*, and this question came up during the question and answer period. The asker prefaced the question with “You guys seems really nice, and definitely don’t fit this description, so now I’m wondering…” B* and I were floored.

“Did you mean physically cold?” B* finally asked. Since English wasn’t their first language, it would have been understandable if there was some miscommunication. But…

“No, not ‘feeling cold’. I hear that you guys are cold towards other people. Why?”

All my life, I’ve hard various stereotypes regarding Canadians,

  • We all live in igloos and ride polar bears to work
  • We say “eh” all the time
  • We were born with skates on
  • Our only weather is winter

Out of all these stereotypes, being cold was definitely not one of them. In fact, I thought one common stereotype about Canadians was that we’re excessively nice towards everyone!

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Now, I could have dismissed this as a strange and random occurrence, but the question popped up again today, when E* and I were talking culture on the way home from work. He told me that he heard Canadians were remote towards others. Since this was now the second time I had heard this, I had to jump on the topic.

“It’s so strange for me to hear this. Have you never heard that Canadians are always nice, sometimes too nice? That only our weather is cold?”

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He shook his head. “I’ve always heard that Canadians were just… cold everywhere – physically and otherwise.”

My brain subsequently imploded and I had to change the topic. But thinking back on it, I can definitely see why people from South America might think that Canadians are a little cold.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the stereotype that Canadians are nice comes from our neighbours the Americans. Compared to our rowdy, freedom and ‘MURICA loving counterparts, we do tend to be a tad more polite and well-spoken. I’ve heard Americans who, coming to Canada, are surprised that customer service representatives will actually greet them with, “Hello, how are you doing today?” If you’re basing “nice”-ness on that, then for sure, we are the nicest country there ever was.

But we definitely don’t become as chummy with strangers as South Americans do. Despite Brazil being dangerous, I’ve always. If public transportation is crowded, strangers sitting on the bus will offer to hold my bag on their lap for me while I stand, because they know how much our bags can sometimes weigh. When I couldn’t understand how to get to my destination, everyone on the bus rallied to convey the message to me with body language. Everybody greets each other and says goodbye with hugs and kisses, even strangers, and when they laugh, they always touch you and lean their head on your shoulder. These are just some of the many customs here. If you compare this to the Canadian way – saying hello with small smiles, politely shaking hands – it is worlds apart.

Maybe Canadians aren’t that nice… maybe we just think we are.

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Even if we aren’t the nicest, at least we like everyone.

WAAG Week 5: Brazil Is Dangerous But Full of Miracles

Wednesday

Hot weather makes me sluggish, so while I’ve had some time to blog, I tend to just waste it away. Hence why Monday and Tuesday’s posts are missing. But I’ll do a quick recap. Jokes, this will be rather lengthy.

Yesterday I had my first day of work and it was… insane. I have two mildly terrifying stories to tell. Don’t worry, both have happy endings!

Scary Story 1

If you know me, you know that I don’t have the best directional sense. I could get lost two blocks away from my house (my Canadian one… If it was my Brazilian house I’d have to shorten it to half a block.) So I already anticipated that getting myself to the NGO would be the most challenging part of the day.

Getting there required a bus ride from the end of my street to the shopping mall at the centre of the city, and then a walk from the mall to the NGO. The bus ride was a little rocky because I didn’t know where t get off and ended up riding past my stop, but the stretch of walking is what really threw me off. I thought I knew which direction to walk, but I really really didn’t. After having made what I now know to be three wrong turns, I saw a man walking down the street, so I stopped him and asked for directions. (Just to set the tone for the story, he was a pretty built man with a lot of stubble – think lumberjack?) He didn’t understand English but told me he would bring me to a friend who did. He then led me down the street and through what appeared to be … a secured prison?! The only word I could understand on the granite sign was judiciaire, and there were armed guards posted at all the entrances. He nodded to the guards and motioned that I was with him, so the guards moved aside to let us in. My mind immediately leapt into panic mode: was this man taking me into prison?! Was I going to be kidnapped and sold in slavery? Were they going to sell me as a prostitute? All the scary stories I had ever heard were coming to life. Should I run? But there were guards at the entrances. Should I fake dead? No, that was ridiculous.

We went through three sets of doors (all of them were like the ones you see in the movies where you go into maximum security prisons), the last of which led to a room with a bunch of computers and a lot of guys wearing headsets. At this point, I was walking several feet behind the man, ready to bolt at the nearest hint of trouble.

Instead of suffocating me with chlorofoam (really what I expected at this point), he called out a name and another big man looked up from his computer screen. Smiling broadly, he indicated that the other man (let’s call him B) could speak English. When I explained my predicament, B googled the address for me, and then led me back outside. I had been walking in the wrong direction, so now I had to go all the way back. B offered to drive me in his car, but I politely declined, not only because it would take him away from his work, but also because you never really can tell when a person is a serial killer. Instead, he gave me extensive instructions as well as his phone number to call if I couldn’t find my destination.

Once I got to my NGO, I WhatsApped him:

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Brazilians are so nice ❤

Some pictures of my NGO (Instituto Agir):
    

After work, my fellow interns met up with some interns from another NGO close to us to go out for sushi. By the time we were ready to head home, it was 9PM.

Scary Story 2

My parents were concerned for my safety in Brazil, and they’re not wrong to worry. As I’ve experienced first-hand with my phone, and everyone here keeps reminding me, Brazil is a dangerous place, so you must exert caution. It gets dark very early here (5:30PM?) People here treat 6PM like our midnight… so 9PM translates to 3AM in the morning. And just as you wouldn’t want to walk on the streets by yourself at 3AM in the morning, walking any distance by yourself at 9PM is considered very dangerous. We all live quite far from each other, so the most we could do was walk each other to our respective bus stops. The walk from the bus stop to our final destination would have to be braved alone.

I had never taken the bus back home by myself before, and was extremely worried I would miss my stop. I sat at the front of the bus and kept a careful watch, waiting for anything familiar. I remembered that there was a green gas station next to my stop, so I kept looking out for that.

All of a sudden, a hand tapped my shoulder. I looked at the girl next to me, who said, “This is your stop.”

“What?” I told her my stop name, and she points outside. “This is your stop.” I looked out the window again, and sure enough, there was the gas station I’d been watching for, straight ahead! I ran to the doors, but the bus was already pulling out to the next station.

“How did you know to ask me right what my stop was?” She didn’t answer, just smiled.

I had to wait until the next station. This time the girl got off with me, and as I turned around to thank her, she told me, “Take a bus back. Do not walk. It is a dangerous time now.” I turned to walk one way, before realising that it was a dead end (#Fail), before doubling back. She was gone.

So, let’s get a few things straight about this girl:

  1. We had not talked at all this bus ride, so she didn’t know that I needed help going anywhere
  2. I didn’t have any device or map or anything in my hand, so there is no conceivable way she could have known what my stop was

Even though I’m Christian, my tendency towards Objectivism usually dissuades me from simply putting things I can’t explain into the basket of “God’s doing”. But I honestly believe that God sent me a miracle that night. If that girl had not showed me my stop at just the right moment, I would have stayed on that bus to who knows where. In fact, I have to believe that this entire trip to Brazil was an act of God. Even the fact that my phone was stolen may be god-given; without a phone that can use the regular navigation apps, I’ve had to resort to actually remembering locations rather than just following the GPS system like most of my fellow interns do. A week in, I already feel like I’ve been tested on skills I never would have exercised on my own.

Now it’s almost midnight and I’m utterly tired so I won’t really describe today in much detail. After work, A and I went to the mall to eat, and then headed to a nearby university to present to some university students who wanted to be hosts for more incoming interns. (According to J, in the next month AIESEC Recife expects to receive 100 more incoming interns!!! I can only hope that one day AIESEC Waterloo grows to this size.) The audience appreciated our insight into different cultures and were very proactive in coming up to talk to us individually after our presentation. It made me feel like I’ve given back to the AIESEC community abroad at least a little bit.

Let me conclude with some final thoughts of Brazil so far. Here’s a quote from my EP letter:

While there are areas in the city where the Human Development Index (HDI) is comparable to countries like Switzerland, in other areas the HDI is comparable to countries in Africa, like Ghana and Uganda. Sometimes the distance between the two scenarios is as small as one football field.

Before I came, I thought that this must have been an exaggeration – after all, in Ottawa we also have some areas which are a bit richer than others. But here, it so different: right behind a run-down shack you can see a beautiful industrialized building shooting to the sky. You can transition from a busy market atmosphere to a sullen desolate one just by walking down the block. I’ve never been more aware of why Brazil needs volunteers, and what our mission really is.

Thursday

One of the interns I met at sushi yesterday had a fever and went to the hospital. It turned out that he had dengue fever! This is a nightmare come to life: I’m so worried that I will get dengue fever too, because I’ve been getting mosquito bites left and right – my legs look like I’m wearing polka dot leggings.

At work today, D and I made a marketing plan and presented it to D2. He didn’t seem too excited about our ideas until we got to the Indiegogo campaign. To my surprise, neither D nor D2 had heard of Indiegogo, so I had a good time educating them. We spent more than an hour discussing the logistics of our project. I’m excited – I feel like I finally know how to make a difference!

Friday

N bought me a Brazilian snack the third day I got here, and I finally opened it today. I’m still not quite sure what it is, but it tastes like a milkier version of caramel?

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Saturday

I was supposed to go to the beach today with N’s aunt, but her uncle got sick with dengue fever (!!!!!) so the trip was cancelled. It actually ended up raining all day, so in a way, it was fortunate that we didn’t make the trek.

Interesting tidbit: Up until now, I kept getting told that while private high schools are superior to the public ones, the public universities here are a lot better than the private ones. In fact, only people who couldn’t make it into public universities would go to the private ones. It was a little hard for me to understand; why would the quality of public vs. private education change between secondary and post-secondary? Also, living in such proximity with the U.S. has kind of brain-washed me into thinking that private universities (hello, Ivy League?) always tended to be better because they have more funds with which to run their operations. But today, during my talk with G and her father, I discovered today that Brazil’s public universities are completely free. How absolutely crazy! Let’s add Brazil to the list of countries I wish I lived in, right after France.

Sunday

I went on a trip with to Antigo today, and got to meet some more interns! Most of them had just flown in a few days ago, so I felt like one of the veterans of the group. It was especially nice to meet people from other countries – the interns who arrived the same week as me were mostly from Canada as well. While it’s great to see your fellow Canadians abroad, I had gone on exchange to meet other cultures. This week presented a lot of diversity, with Malaysians, Singaporeans, French and Germans!

We had a full itinerary, and there was a lot of walking, so I’m exhausted and don’t really feel like writing. Instead, here are some pretty pictures:

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On the small island off Antigo
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View from across the river
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Pernambuco House of Culture. It used to be a prison, but has now been transformed into a souvenir shop, with each jail cell serving as a store. Here’s the one cell they left untouched, to allow visitors to see what the jail used to be like.
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An exhibit inside a museum (this is only a wall of it; it is actually a twisted tunnel). I originally thought it was like a house of mirrors, but it is actually composed of a bunch of computer screens which delay your reflection by a few seconds. There is also some slight whispering noises you only hear once you enter inside. It makes for an all around eerie effect. According to our guide, it is supposed to represent the devil’s temptation :O Definitely my favourite exhibit today
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Wall of the Frevo museum. (Frevo is a traditional dance that is unique to Recife.)
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Some costumes people have worn at the Carnival. SOME GUY DRESSED UP AS A WATERMELON. That’s definitely this year’s Halloween costume
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The streets of Antigo gets pretty busy on Sunday afternoons. I loved the hustle and bustle. Planning on coming back to do some shopping at the local markets before I leave 🙂
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OK, this isn’t a pretty picture, but the sun in Recife is real. I wore a t-shirt, and this is my tan line after getting home…

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Hi there! Welcome to my blog. Whether you know me, or just stumbled on this site while googling Brie cheese, I’m glad you’re here.

A little about me: I’m a second year Accounting and Financial Management student at the University of Waterloo, and an aspiring CPA. Writing has always been one of my favourite creative outlets, but sometimes life gets busy and I let it slide. I’m using this blog as a way for me to continue practicing my writing. Any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated!

Nice Day Hamster

WAAG Week 4: I’m in Brazil!

Tuesday

I finally got to my host family in Brazil after flying for two days. Already, it’s been quite the experience.

I had to take three flights to get to my destination in Brazil: Toronto > New York, New York > Sao Paulo and then Sao Paulo > Recife. I travelled with TAM Airlines for all three of my flights. It was a pretty good experience overall; the airlines handed out caramel candies before each and every flight, and we got served meals or snacks throughout. Food, even airplane food, will always win me over!

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The most I got to see of New York 😦 I wish we could go out and explore during layovers.

Between my second and third flight I was supposed to have a 10-hour layover, but the attendant checking me in got me into one that left 4 hours earlier instead. Upon updating my TN manager about this, I discovered that a fellow AIESECer would now be travelling on the same flight as me. By the same stroke of luck, we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane! I had made my first friend in Brazil.

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Also seen on the flight to Recife. Accounting firms know no boundaries.

But that’s where my luck ended. I had checked both my luggages, and when I got to Recife, both were nowhere to be found. I wasn’t the only one to have this happen to, so immediately tons of angry Brazilians swarmed the poor attendant behind the Baggage Services desk. Since he had to meet everyone’s demands one by one, the entire process took a very long time. He also didn’t speak English so when it was finally my turn it was very difficult to understand what information he needed from me. Luckily, at this time my host was let into the gate because it had been an hour after I was supposed to arrive, and she was able to be a translator.

I was pretty bummed out about the luggage fiasco because I had checked all of my belongings into those two suitcases. Now I didn’t have any clothes, toiletries or other products for who knew how long. Even my presents for my host family were in the suitcases!

But I was still in Brazil. Even though it was dark out, I could see that things were so different. For one, there were as many motorcyclists as cars, and none of them followed the lanes! Instead they wove in and around the lanes of cars. When I told the host that motorcycles in Canada drove in line with the cars, she got very confused. “What’s the advantage of having a motorcycle then?”

Once we got to my host’s house, she gave me some clothes to change into since I didn’t have any with me, and also showed me my room. It’s so nice!

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Despite the missing luggage, I really couldn’t ask for a more generous family to bring me in. Tomorrow I’ll have to go out by myself and meet up with the other interns to get to my workplace. Fingers crossed I’ll like it just as much as my host family!

Wednesday

This morning good news came – the airport found my luggage and would be delivering it to the house! I was very happy at the thought of finally being able to wear some of my own clothes.

I didn’t have to bus to meet the other interns until the afternoon, so I had a slow morning. I ate breakfast with N and then walked with her to her bus stop, so she could show me how to bus later on. She wrote a message to the driver telling him where I needed to go on a piece of paper – bless her soul for being so considerate!

I have to say that the food here is very different. Every meal so far has been peppered with new things:

  • Boiled bananas
  • Black coffee without caffeine
  • Jackfruit
  • Two things that taste like potatoes but are not (forget the names)
  • Cake with fruit that I don’t know
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Some cake that N’s grandmother brought me as a snack. They don’t know what the English name of the fruit used in this cake is, so I guess I’ll never know! It’s very good though.
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I had lunch with the interns here in the mall after we located each other. First “restaurant” meal in Recife!

I wish I could have taken more pictures, because we really did see a lot of cool things throughout the day, but it is not safe to have our phones out while on the street because it puts us at risk of robbery. Which isn’t to say that me not taking any pictures helped at all because…

Perhaps to counterbalance the happiness of having my luggage located, my cellphone was stolen… right after I bought a plan for it 😦 I had to get N to call the company and cancel the plan for me. We’re hopefully going to get another card for me tomorrow. Hopefully my bad luck ends here!

Thursday

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Brazil is so hot, wearing my hair down means an oily mess at the end of the day. Even though I don’t like it, I’ve had to resort tying my hair up when doing things in the house like writing this entry.

As part of the IPS week, we went to Federal University (CDU) today. N was kind enough to bus me there early (she had class at 3PM but my session started at 2PM). I got to meet all the other interns who would be starting work next week!

AIESEC Recife’s office is located in the building CFCU on campus. Since we were on school property, I felt safe enough to pull on my phone and snap a few pictures:

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The CFCU building. Apparently it is for philosophy students!
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Took this to remind myself of where N’s classes were (she is a materials engineer). Her classes are in the stout grey building in at the back of the picture.
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A view (from behind the fence) of the art’s building at school! Apparently this is the nicest one in school… which according to N makes sense because “they are arts students”

We got to the AIESEC office early. Since the door was locked, we chatted outside and were quickly joined by other interns. Most of the people already knew each other since they had been here since the first day of IPS, but since I arrived late I had not met most of them yet. I quickly got acquainted, and as N left for class we left the office and went to a classroom where our “training” for the day would be.

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A view from the fourth floor of the CFCU building

In the classroom, we met first in our projects and then in our NGOs to discuss our plans for the upcoming months. Then the ICX members taught us some Portuguese!

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I’m in school again… Portuguese school!
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My new AIESEC family in Brazil 🙂

At night, N and I went to the mall to get my new SIM card. Afterwards, we wandered around the mall a little.

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Brazilian mall!
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This store sells shoes that are made exclusively from plastic. Apparently they are wildly popular in Brazil!

Friday

Today was supposed to be my first day of work, but since I don’t work on Fridays N took me to the beach instead.

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I opted to stay out of the water (this beach has sharks! A girl died last year *shudder*) and instead just lounged around enjoying everything else the beach had to offer. There are various vendors who bring chairs and umbrellas. You pick one of them and while you’re enjoying your time in the sun other vendors walk by offering a variety of items, like fish, ice cream, beer, hats and sunblock.

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This concoction had fish, beans and quail eggs among other things! So good :Q
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One of the vendors made me a rose out of coconut leaves!

We had gotten beer before going to the beach because it was less expensive, and N was pretty indignant that I chose a 0% alcoholic beer. She insisted I try a drink called Caipirinha, which had 40% alcohol and lemonade. Don’t worry, the legal age to drink in Brazil is 18 so I’m in the clear!

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At this point in the picture it actually tasted pretty good… the after-taste was where the alcohol hit.

After the beach, N declared that I had to try some açai, so we went to some to a restaurant and got some.

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Açai with bananas and granola. This was the small size and I still couldn’t finish it!

We then bussed to the city centre and she showed me some famous markers in Recife.

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The “twin towers of Brazil”
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See that tower thing at the left of the picture? N did not know what its official name was, but apparently colloquially it’s known as “the penis tower”
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The 0km mark in Pernambuco! This is the starting point for measurement between anywhere else in the world, apparently.

Altogether, I’d say this was a day very well spent!

Saturday

Today, G took me to Instituto Ricardo Brennand (they just call it “the castle”). It’s a museum of sorts, made by the collector Ricardo Brennand.

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The road leading into the Institute is lined with… palm trees? Coconut trees? I still can’t really tell the difference.
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Statue of Ricardo Brennand

They had large displays of art…

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… as well as armour.

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Even dogs get armour!
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G and I posing next to some weapons.

But most impressive of all was the view. I wasn’t artsy enough to take advantage of all the amazing scenery around us, but it was truly a sight to behold! Some people actually have their weddings here… as we were leaving, guests were filing in!

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They actually have a moat around the castle… can I just stay here forever please

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We stayed for a few hours, but finally it was time to go. Bye, IRB! You were beautiful.

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Sunday

Happy Mother’s Day! On Sundays, N’s aunts, uncles and cousins come to visit so it made for a very lively house. It’s enough excitement for me, but today, it wasn’t the most interesting thing to happen.

When N’s relatives came over, they found a man lying in the middle of the street. Not wanting anyone to run him over, they moved him to the shade of a tree on the side of the street, and then came inside to call the ambulance. I walked into the living room as all this was going down, and it didn’t even register to me because none of the family members were remotely panicked. They were laughing, going about their own business, some on their phones, while one person was on the line talking (with the emergency operator, though I didn’t know it at the time.) N and her cousin eventually headed back outside because the operator told them they needed to perform CPR on the – what do you call an unconscious man on the side of the street? The patient? The client? The stranger? – man. They told me not to wait for them to start eating… as if I could eat knowing what was going on outside! But I figured given the language barrier that I would be more hindrance than help, so I just stayed indoors and hoped for the best.

They came back relatively quickly, laughing. Apparently the man was simply very very drunk. He had been unresponsive to their initial “Hello, hello, can you hear me?”s because he was deaf (this is why in CPR they always teach you hit the ground beside the person instead of just yelling at them #LifeguardLyfe), but once they pinched him he gave them a thumbs up. LOL.

So after that fiasco, I had lunch with the extended family and then watched some TV with them.

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Brazilian version of Korean reality television? That’s what it seemed like. Also, according to N these shows are specially catered towards poor people…?

In the afternoon, we went to Olinda, which has some of the most scenic views in Brazil. Olinda was actually the first city in Brazil!

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What people dress like for the annual “festivals” in the major cities of Brazil! The festival happened in Recife just a few months ago… too bad I missed it.

Ah, and obviously I can’t make it two days without having a drink. (For some time, I seriously debated just inventing some sort of story about my religion not permitting the consumption of alcohol so I can stop being put in these situations in the future. But the amount of research that would take doesn’t suit my laziness too well, so forget it.) I don’t remember what this drink was called, but it’s basically a strawberry milkshake with vodka. How I ended up with it in my hand was the result of a conversation that went something like this:

N: *goes up to vendor*
Me: *follows her* Hey, what are you buying?
N: This is like a strawberry milkshake. What do you want, champagne or vodka?

I tried to at once to put the two sentences she had just said together in a way that made some sort of coherent sense, and then figure out how to tell her that I really don’t like alcoholic drinks that much.

Me: Ah…
N: *turns to the vendor* We’ll have vodka.

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And here we are.

The milkshake part tasted really good! The vodka part… eh.

Oh! One last cool thing. Right before we left Olinda, we came upon a group of people doing a dance called the capoeira. It’s actually a mixture of fighting and dancing, and it was created by African slaves who wanted to practice their fighting skills in preparation for the revolution, but had to do it under their Portuguese masters’ noses. They invented the capoeira in order to disguise their preparation as dancing. Pretty neat!

WAAG Week 3: Weekends in Toronto Are the Best Weekends

Wednesday

It’s been hard to blog because living at home means living with Mom’s “get your butt into bed before 10pm” rule. But there’s not that much to talk about anyways, because all of my time has been spent at home either doing something to get ready for Brazil or on Youtube. Youtube Fanfest is happening in Toronto on Saturday, but I’m not sure if I’ll go yet, because the UWAC conference is also that day. But… this could be my only chance to see Jeffreyfever in person… and if I don’t see him in person how will he ever know I exist… and if he doesn’t know I exist how could we ever get married and live out my fantasies… *inner turmoil*

We went out biking as a family today (forgot how pretty the Ottawa river was… haven’t been there since my high school cross country days), and I realized how much of a girl I really am. Saw’s N’s mom on the way… she seemed pretty lonely since she had gone off to Europe without her. Resolved to be a good daughter and also be more active. (I started running again this week! Go me.)

Thursday

No time to write. But here are some pretty panoramas I took on a bike ride with Mom today.

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Sunday

UWAC was busy, and I didn’t have Wifi in my room so I haven’t really kept up blogging. But these past few days have been crazy fun, so I’ve got to record at least some of it!

First of all, the conference was pretty awesome – I got to meet some great people, including students from other business schools, some upper years and working professionals. Who says accounting conferences can’t be fun?

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You know you’re cool when they give you accountant trading cards at conferences…

Since I was in downtown Toronto, I had to sneak out and go to Youtube Fanfest. The original plan had been to skip dinner and go to the actual show, but I ended up skipping part of the networking session to go for the Red Carpet event.

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Dundas Square when I first got there… (still in my conference business clothes)

My one mission was to meet JeffreyFever. In my head, it seemed so easy – just show up, walk up to him, talk to him, charm him with my wit, marry him, and trot off into the sunset. Well, maybe just the first three things, but I never imagined that I would have trouble locating the guy. After all, he wasn’t yet as mainstream as some of the other talent that was there, like Jenna Marbles or Superwoman, so this should be relatively easy right?

WRONG. Even though the show wasn’t set to begin for a few hours, the square was already jam-packed with people. I couldn’t even get close to the red carpet.

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I went on my tiptoes and reached my arms up to snap this photo… and the most you can see is still the screen where they’re projecting the red carpet interviews. FML

The crowd was anxious and sweaty, and I quickly realized that I had practically no chance of locating JeffreyFever in the throng. Instead, E and I walked around the stage in the hopes of finding another entrance. Some other fans apparently had the same idea, because they were clustered around busses, parks and the back entrance with their cameras, all hoping to catch a glimpse of an elusive Youtuber. By this point, I was pretty discouraged, and E and I agreed that once we completed our circle of Dundas Square we’d just leave and go get some Bubble tea to quell the disappointment.

AND THEN I SAW HIM. As we rounded the corner, he came strolling down a ramp, phone in hand. My brain immediately shut down, and I just slowly walked towards him, zombie-fied, openly staring with my mouth open. When he saw me he put his phone down and greeted me. There was some light chitchat (apparently his sister is also an accountant?), with a lot of OMGs from my end.

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Isn’t he perfect? Yes. Yes he is.

My complete lack of sanity (and his dazzling presence I’m sure) quickly attracted more fans so I left, my life completely changed. Even though I missed a good hour of networking for this, it was so worth it. When else would I ever have a chance to see this guy again?!

After UWAC ended, some friends and I went to play Trapped! the escape game in Toronto. We did a lot better than I thought we would, and actually escaped in time. After some bubble tea (I literally drank bubble tea every day I was at this conference), we headed back to the hotel. It turns out that the skating rink for the Pan Am Games was right outside our hotel so I took a picture.

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No ice yet. And awks my bag got caught in the picture

The conference ended today, and I went to visit Aunt S and met my cousins. I haven’t seen them in years, so it was great catching up.

Visiting Toronto is definitely never dull… I could never have predicted how much I’d enjoy this weekend. But summer’s not over yet – heading to Brazil tomorrow. More adventures await!