Tuesday, February 8, 2011

week 1... (feels like month 1)

What it is, readers?

I've been in Sao Paulo for about a week now... it feels more like a month. Not because I'm not enjoying my time, because I am, but because I am constantly learning new things and overstimulating myself with this fascinating culture, it feels like I've been here learning for a much longer time.

The language is starting to become easier to understand; the only members that speak ANY English in my host family are 2 of the 3 kids, and their English is often difficult to decipher. It's almost easier to understand them speaking Portuguese than it is to speak English... plus I would prefer Portuguese anyways to improve my own ability. When everyone is at work during the weekdays, I usually stay at home with Grandma and we watch Portuguese soap operas... pretty ridiculous plotlines but it's helpful for learning the language. When I'm in my room (like now as I write this) I try to watch other Portuguese programs... for example right now I'm watching Kung Fu Panda in Portuguese, which makes learning faster because I already know the lines in English so I can learn new words. I've gotten pretty good at charades to speak to my family when I really need too. This week there was one pretty major mishap... in Portuguese, the word "pao" with a ~ on the A (I don't know how to do that on this blog software... what a noob) means "bread" but pao without a tilde is Brazilian slang for "dick." So the grocery store here is called "Pao de Azucar" meaning "sweet bread." Obviously, a novice speaker such as myself might not say the world correctly... and needless to say my host family got a kick out of me inquiring about "sweet dick" instead of sweet-bread.... wooops.

Other than that, I guess I haven't really "messed up" besides just not being able to speak about philosophical or deep things with my family. Conversations are limited to: how are you... do you like coca-cola, etc. The only other major mistake I've made was sitting in Grandma's chair, which I guess is for her and her only, even if she's not in the room. That got a laugh out of everyone, and now my host brother in law Franklin loves to sit there just to piss her off. He's starting to do it less because he gets slapped upside his head by her whenever he sits on  what he calls "o trono da avo" meaning "Grandma's Throne."

As far as activities go, school doesn't start until next Monday so I've just been hanging out. I played basketball in this big, beautiful park filled with palm trees with my host bro, Junior. We ended up sharing the court with a bunch of kids that were probably my age that wanted to play a game. We played 3v3 with me, Junior, and this maybe 12 year old kid versus 3 kids that were all roughly 6 feet tall. I was the tallest on my team... needless to say we didn't do so hot. I called them James, Bosh, and Wade, which they loved since it was really the only 3 words they could understand me say. They liked that I was trying to speak Portuguese and were willing to teach me basketball-related vocab. They play a very not-American version of half-court 21... you don't have to take the ball back here so after every rebound you can just shoot again. Seemed ridiculous to me... but it was fun.

I learned this great dance called Forro here. It's a common Brazilian dance apparently... it seems like a combination of salsa, bachata, and good old-fashioned grinding. Junior took me and my English-fluent Guyanese pal Johnathan to a Forro bar. Johnathan and I didn't really know what we were doing so we just watched the dance for a while, but Junior was a pro. Girls seemed to flood towards him... but he was a great friend and said to some of them "you should teach my American friend over there how to dance Forro." One girl, Daiane, was stupid enough to agree and try to teach me. She spoke good English and told me that she thought we were playing a trick on her, because I looked like a Brazilian. However, once I tried to speak Portuguese to her she quickly understood how American I was haha. She was patient with me as I learned the basic step and she taught me a few different moves and spins. She told me that she didn't think Americans knew how to dance but I was an exception (ego boost!). Another girl who was Daiane's friend taught Johnathan, and we all exchanged contact info afterwards. Hopefully we can hang out with them again later or drive to the beach or something.

Later that night we went to a hip-hop club called Camara, which was an unnecessarily expensive (40 reais... roughly 25 dollars.... are you kidding me) place that played techno beats over American songs by Katy Perry and Justin Beiber (who they love... yet make fun of constantly. They call him Justin Biba... Biba being short for Butterfly... which is slang for gay or transexual). I had fun with my host siblings and Johnathan teaching them American dance moves like the dougie, jerk, and stanky leg. They, in turn, taught me some Brazilian steps, which seemed pretty similar (but in my non-biased opinion, more lame).

It's been a fun first week, I hope once classes start things are still this fun. Leave some comments or something... I feel like I'm talking to myself. Tchau.

the view from my bedroom

My host sister, Ana Izabel

"Os Bros" Junior, me, and Johnathan

Mom and Dad, Ana e Augusto senior


p.s. I don't have any pictures of the other sister, Anne Melina, or her husband Franklin. Hopefully I'll get some soon. And, Grandma doesn't like her photo taken so you can't see her only I can muwahahahaha


  1. Andy you look tall! I enjoyed reading about you first week in Brasil it sounds like a lot of fun. Keep posting these on fb and i'll continue to read them!

  2. Sounds like you're having a great time so far. What's the weather like? Is it hot and humid, does it get cold at night? I always knew you liked sweet dick... And way to pick up the squirrel's number.


  3. Sounds like a wonderful first week! Thanks for starting the blog - it'll be fun to follow your adventures! (Mike and I laughed pretty hard at the "pao" story... Oh dear...)

  4. yay andy! i'm so happy you're keeping a blog about your trip! glad to hear that you're having a positive time so far. keep the entries coming!