Monday, March 13, 2006

Reflection – Two Months in Brazil

I know this is a little late since I have no been in Brazil for about two months and one week, but nonetheless, you get the idea. I really don’t know what to write so I’m just going to type and see what comes out.
When I got to Brazil I was thinking, “wow everything here is so green.” Not really sure why, but the color of the trees and the grass, and the blue of the sky, was so vivid. It still is, but that was sort of like a “wow” moment as I rode the bus from São Paulo to Curitiba.
Also when I got to Brazil, my functioning Portuguese was limited to very few vocabulary words and the present tense of around 20 verbs, if that many. My Portuguese has improved an incredible amount, because now do I know a lot more words, I have a handle on about five or six verb tenses, and I can actually name what they are unlike in English. I just speak English; I don’t really need to know verb tenses or whatever. Anyway, I can have decent conversations and if I don’t know a word, I can sometimes try to explain it in Portuguese and figure out the word then.
Classes started last Tuesday for me and let me tell you, this is going to be one difficult semester. But, I will most definitely learn a whole lot of vocabulary, even within the next week or so of constantly reading Portuguese. When I read this one history book, I have three books sitting there just so I can read one: the history book, a dictionary, and a verb dictionary. It’s rough, but what I do is underline every word I don’t understand, write it in a notebook, and then look it up. Then I read what I’ve read over until I understand the sentence. Honestly though, my main goal here is not really to learn how to read a history book written in 1933, my goal is to become at least conversationally fluent in Portuguese by the time I leave. The reading and everything will come naturally as I read more and write more. I just really want to be able to have good, long conversations with people without looking like a dumbass.
I can understand a whole lot of Portuguese and quite often I can write it out a little bit easier than speaking it, but I think this is natural when learning any language. It takes a while to understand everything to a point that you can speak it without jumping around and getting a tense wrong or a word wrong. But if how much I have learned in only two months is any indication, four more months will help out an incredible amount. I have 19 more weeks here, which I think should be good enough to not have to rely at all on English.
I’ve noticed a lot of cultural things and learned a lot about life just by being here. I’ve expanded my worldview, which has helped me to rewrite my own personal life philosophy. Some things about this culture I love and think are great; other things I think should probably be worked with. But with a new democracy and what is essentially a whole new government here, I imagine a few things can be dealt with in time.
I have made a couple new friends while here and probably at least two (so far at least) that I would love to stay in contact with once they leave and once I leave. Not only that but I have learned to really enjoy soccer. Maybe it’s because it is my only option, but I don’t really know. I have gone to a few games and enjoyed myself a lot at each one, and I have watched a couple games on TV when the rest of the host family here is watching them. I am really hoping that Brazil wins the World Cup this year. Not so much because I have a personal or emotional investment in it or anything, but because I have heard so much about how life is here during two times: Carnaval and the World Cup. I have experienced Carnaval and seen exactly how that is. Next up is the World Cup. I was going to buy a WC2006 Brazil team jersey but I happen to be ridiculously superstitious about sports and at one point I thought if I bought one they would lose. Therefore, I’m waiting until after the World Cup. At least then I’ll be able to buy one with six stars instead of only five.
I have also gotten to know more states in Brazil than I have in my own country. I have been all through Paraná, São Paulo, Santa Catarina, Bahia, and Pernambuco. Some might say “but Zack, that’s only five states!” I have only really been in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Sure I have been through other states, but often I haven’t even stopped for gas or at a rest area in them. By the time I leave here, I will have been through even more.
I have met lots of different people throughout my travels in Brazil. I have met native Indians, Candomblé practitioners, people of descent of Africa, Italy, Germany, France, and so many other places, and in meeting all of these people I have met some of the nicest, most friendly people I could ever imagine encountering in the world.
I’m probably going to reapply for the program so I can try to come back next year at the same time. I figure it is almost the only way I could really keep up with Portuguese and continue to learn it. Not only that but I might have the opportunity to go to another university here in Brazil which would be excellent. I’ll have to wait and see what happens, but hopefully that all goes down because with I hope to continue on with Portuguese, not only learning the language but with political science maybe one day working with the language and what I’ve learned while here.
Also, after being in Brazil for two months, I have developed what may go down in history as the greatest tan line of all time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a nice tan line.