I’ve missed quite a few days of blogging just, but I’m determined to at least detail a little of my last days in Brazil (from last week), so here are some pictures with commentary:
Since I’ve been back, things have actually been pretty hectic. I’ve been learning how to cook and Mom has been loading me with fashion tips (because apparently I have no sense of style). My accounting midterm is coming up in a few days, and most of all, I’ve been looking for a job. I’ve lost count of how many resumes I’ve submitted / given out by now… hopefully it all pays off soon and I get a job!
My mom and I were talking about childbirth and labour pain simulators for men because men would never be able to experience actual childbirth. My 11-year-old brother pops in with: “Yeah, I’m lucky I won’t ever have to have a baby. The worst thing about being a man is getting an erection.” I had to leave the room.
Other than that, I’d say that today’s been a fairly productive day. I had an interview with Bentley Leathers today, and the store manager really seemed to like me, so we’ve now scheduled my second interview with the district manager. I really hope I get the job because I definitely want some retail experience, and working at the mall just sounds really fun! (Plus, store discounts!!!!! I can buy all the totes my heart desires <3)
As I am leaving in a few days, I find it impossible to do anything but begin the long process of good-byes. Everywhere I walk, I feel nostalgic, so I’ve been taking random pictures to fill the void. I just want to suck everything in and remember it forever!
I went to a birthday part over the weekend. We had to buy a present, so we went to a shopping mall. The birthday girl really likes alcohol, so I wandered around while my host’s uncle picked out the perfect bottle.
I asked if Pernambuco makes any wine, and apparently they do! It’s called cachaça, and is apparently very strong. I might buy some of this before I leave for the AIESEC members back home.
The party was in Piedade, which is right next to the Boa Viagem beach. The house was beautiful!
After the party, my host’s cousins took me out for some coffee. (Yes, they drink coffee at nighttime.)
M* got sick from dengue yesterday! Well, it’s not exactly dengue, but a virus that is similar to it? Apparently there are several strains of dengue that appeared after the World Cup, because the mosquito that had dengue also got infected with another virus. Luckily, the other strains aren’t as dangerous.
Some of the other interns and I decided to go out to the movies today. Since Shopping Boa Vista is very close to our workplace (15 min walk) and there is a movie theatre inside, we decided to go there. All of us assumed that the movies would be in English with Portuguese subtitles. However, when we got there, all of the movies were dubbed, which means we wouldn’t understand a thing. So we decided to go to a bigger shopping mall, Riomar. To our relief, Riomar had movies in English! Hurrah! But the movie we wanted wasn’t playing, we we had to pick another one. Since by now it was already 6pm and all us wanted to be able to bus home (a lot of busses stop running at 11pm), we decided to just choose a movie that was playing right away. That movie turned out to be Mad Max.
Now, I had never heard of this movie before, but it had a five star rating so I thought it must be pretty good. We were standing far away, and the movie poster looked like it was for a cartoon movie, so I was like, “Sure, why not?”
… it was not a cartoon. Blood, skulls, everywhere from the minute I walked into the theatre. Did I mention that we had chosen to watch this in 3D? No? WE WATCHED THIS IN 3D. I yelped when a bloody body part shot out of the screen at my face. Usually when I know I’m about to watch something with graphic scenes, I make sure to sit next to someone who I know wouldn’t mind (much) when I grab and squeeze the living daylights out of their arm, but since I didn’t know the content of the movie beforehand, I wasn’t able to strategically place myself. I was stuck between a couple (or a fast-becoming couple… lots of romances during these internships guys) and another girl intern with a huge bag of popcorn. I had to settle for stuffing my mouth with popcorn whenever I got terrified.
Despite everything, it was actually a bloody good movie (pun intended).
We held a mini Global Village for the kids at work today. It was the first time I got to cross-collaborate with the other Projects at our NGO, which was pretty cool! We taught the kids about our own countries and showed them things that are popular there.
I also learned that I could never be a teacher. I’d taught kids before, but this was usually with the parents present. These kids had been left to their own devices, and they screamed like banshees half the time – I thought I was going to be deaf at the end of it all. I was very glad to end the day knowing that I would be able to go back to my nice and quiet SMarketing room.
One of my host sisters accompanied me to the nail salon today. I was really excited because I had never had my nails professionally done before. It actually wasn’t as great as I expected – I think I romanticized the process a little too much. I asked for them to not cut my cuticles, because I was scared of infection (also, sometimes they don’t disinfect their tools properly). Because of that, the entire treatment (a mani-pedi) ended up being only 10R, which is just a little over $3! My host sisters were very shocked when I told them that a similar treatment in Canada would cost $30-40.
I spent a lot of today watching MMA and UFC videos. (Honestly, I don’t know how people survive in families with limited or slow WiFi… probably more productively, come to think of it.) MMA is probably the most popular sport in Brazil next to soccer (excuse me, football). I admittedly have been getting quite into it. The UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is actually fighting a Brazilian challenger in Rio on August 1! I’ll definitely be tuning in to that. Prediction: Rousey will beat the !@#$%^&* out of her competitor.
I’m slowly coming to the realization that my host family is actually quite geeky. My younger host sister has memorized every word to the second Harry Potter movie. (Her cousin once turned off the volume and asked her to narrate the movie instead… and she did it.) And while most people went to a university party tonight, my host sisters stayed in… and watched the League of Legends championship.
With a week before I head home, I wanted to answer some Frequently Asked Questions about my exchange experience, because I know there are people reading my blog to get a better idea on how exchange works. If you are reading this and still have questions, feel free to comment on my entries, message me on Facebook or tweet me! I know I had a really hard time finding information about the the exchange experience, and there’s only so much your EPM can do for you. So if this blog, or myself, can be a resource to you, I’d be more than happy to share what I know!
*These answers pertain to my experience with AIESEC Recife in Pernambuco, Brazil in the summer of 2015. Exchanges to other cities and countries at other times may be very different!
VISA: Yes, you need a.VISA to travel to Brazil, and the process is no joke. Get on this ASAP!! I applied for a Tourist visa, but I hear from the OGX team that the rules have now changed and everyone needs to get a volunteer visa. Even though I didn’t apply for it, I did take a quick peek at some of the requirements, and there are a lot. It took me around two weeks to get my tourist visa, and I would imagine a volunteer visa would also take longer to process. Do not buy your plane tickets without first getting your VISA. It is not guaranteed that your VISA will be approved! A friend of one of the interns here had to scrap a $2000-plane ticket because he could not get his VISA approved. Don’t let this be you!
Picking an LC in Brazil: From what I’ve seen, most LCs in Brazil have the same projects (SMarketing, X4Change, Gaia, Gira Mundo, Driblano). I would pick a bigger city like Recife over a smaller LC because there are usually more interns that come through. Although the AIESEC members do organize gatherings and outings, they are still in school and don’t really have the time to take you out except late at night or on weekends. You’ll be spending most of your time with other interns. I met a girl who came from another city and stayed in a hostel in Recife, in order to join us on a trip because her city only had two other interns. When you’re on exchange, more is definitely merrier!
Housing: Recife relies on volunteers to house interns – your host families don’t get paid. Since they process a lot of interns, you also may not get your housing situation until right before your exchange. Sometimes, you’ll be assigned a temporary host situation if you have already arrived in Recife and they haven’t been able to find a host for you yet. If they are not able to find you a host family, you may live by yourself or with some other interns in a Trainee’s house, which is a place AIESEC rents for exchange participants to live. Be prepared for all scenarios, because you may not know which one you’re in until right before your exchange!
Health: I have personally never gone to the hospital, but I know four interns who have, for a variety of different reasons: dengue fever, regular fever, broken ankle, pain in eyes. Brazil has free health care, and this extends to foreigners in Brazilian territory, but AIESEC does require you to have healthcare coverage before you get here. I keep a photocopy of all my important documents, which include my healthcare insurance, with me at all times. Yes, dengue fever is fairly rampant in Brazil, and you don’t want to get it. Mosquito repellent is a must-have!
Safety: Unfortunately, theft is common here... I got my cellphone stolen on my second day here. I would actually consider myself lucky because they took the phone out of my bag without me even being aware of it. Some other interns had someone with a gun come up to them and make them hand over their bags at gunpoint. You just have to make sure to be cautious! If you are in a crowded area, keep your bag in front of you at all times, and if you are out after dark make sure you’re walking in an area with other people around.
Hopefully this entry doesn’t turn you off of an exchange to Brazil. As long as you make sure you’re prepared for all scenarios, you should be set to have a great exchange experience. You may not always be comfortable in this new environment, but that’s the point, right? You’re on exchange to learn how people around the world live and express themselves!
So I got really lazy the past few days, but I’m back at it! Here are just a few pictures from the last week.
Let’s start off with the food. My host family is always making some sort of food that I’ve never seen before!
Last week we also had our Global Village, where all the interns got to show off their cultures.
We got to see what our friends had brought from their respective cultures, and university students learning English also came in to learn about our cultures.
There were quite a few Canadian interns, so I decided to help out at the Chinese table instead and explain my Chinese background. Some of the girls had studied calligraphy and were able to write the Chinese names of everyone that came to our table! One of the girls also knew Japanese, so she wrote me my name in Japanese!
It’s rare for me to see all the interns at once, so it was definitely a great bonding experience.
Yesterday, my host family took me to see the Francisco Brennand museum. Remember the Ricardo Brennand Institute that I saw during my first week here? Well, Francisco is Ricardo’s brother, and while his brother is a collector, he is an artist. Francisco is still alive, and he actually lives in the museum, so sometimes you can run into him on the grounds! I didn’t see him, but the grounds were beautiful nonetheless.
Sometimes I think I should write in an actual diary instead of posting thoughts here, because then I wouldn’t have to edit my commentary. But then again, a lot of the drama that seems really interesting at the moment probably has less value a few years down the line, so maybe it’s better if it’s left off the record. Let’s just say that as the interns get to know each other a little better, all sorts of interesting interactions begin to develop.
One of the interns had her birthday yesterday, so a bunch of us went out after work to a bar/pub to celebrate.
It was a very long, fun, and hilariously boisterous meal. Since it was late by the time we were finished, I decided to get a cab home. I had read that Brazilian taxi drivers will usually try to get more money by taking the longer route, so I kept my GPS on the entire time. Luckily, my driver was pretty trustworthy and took an efficient route!
Take a Brazilian taxi CHECK
Today the bus system had a strike, so none of the busses ran. I didn’t mind too much because I needed to stay inside to catch up on work anyways, but some of the other interns were planning on going to the beach, so that muddled their plans up a little bit.
One of my host family’s friend is an engineer at a chocolate company, so when she visited she left a bunch of chocolate. They gave me a small bag, which I was going to save to take back home, but so far I’ve already eaten three :’D let’s hope I can restrain myself enough to leave a few pieces for my family!