I have done so much in these past two weeks that it's hard to believe it's only been that long. I have started school, done some volunteering, attended my first rotary meeting, gone on a rotary sponsored "camping" trip for kids my age, started yoga/meditation classes, met tons of people, learned tons Portuguese and so much more!
This past weekend I had to say goodbye to my host sister as she left for her own exchange in Germany. Early Friday morning we headed out to Sao Paulo city (about a 5 hour drive from my house). Everything went smoothly , and after some teary goodbyes she was off! I was so sad about her leaving because we spent so much time together (not to mention she was the only person I knew who spoke any English!). Maria's aunt, uncle, and cousin met us at the airport to say goodbye to Maria, and afterwards we drove to their apartment in a city about an hour from Sao Paulo called Jundiai (population 400,000). When we were going up to their apartment, the elevator stopped and it was probably the scariest moment of my life. The alarm and phone in the elevator didn't work but luckily my "uncle" was able to pry the door open and get the attention of someone on the ground. The electrician had gone home for the day so we ended up trapped in the elevator for what felt like about an hour until FINALLY they got the door open. In hindsight it's pretty funny, and seeing as that's the worst thing that's happened so far I count myself pretty lucky :) Anyways, we spent two nights in Jundiai and during that time they took me to a botanical garden, really nice mall, and to a movie (all things that we don't have in my city). It was cool to get a taste of urban Brazil!
I have really started settling into my life here in Palmital and everything has started to shift from being all new and different to more normal and everyday. I have school from 7-11:30 and the rest of the day is pretty much free for what I want to do! Sometimes I will go to friends houses to watch movies or do on school work together. On Mondays and Thursdays I take a yoga class with my mom. Once a month on Wednesday I have a rotary meeting. If I have nothing to do, I usually just sit outside and read or watch some soccer on TV. On weekends people usually go out with friends, go to parties, ect. and on Sundays the whole extended family gathers at my grandma's house for a big lunch and to hang out. The whole Brazilian lifestyle is very laid back and less scheduled than I'm used to and I'm learning to love it very quickly!
The language has definitely been the hardest thing for me. A lot of people are surprised by this because I speak fairly fluent spanish and they ask me things like "Well portuguese and spanish are pretty similar right?" Well, yes and no. I could go on for hours about the similarities and differences in the languages. The biggest for me difference is the pronunciation and accent. Here are some examples:
In spanish it's pronounced like TEH. In portuguese it's pronounced like CHI
In spanish is's pronounced DAY. In portuguese it's pronounced GEE.
In spanish it's pronounced just like english. In portuguese it makes the "sh" sound.
In spanish it's pronounced MAY. In portuguese it's pronounced ME.
....The list goes on and on. Portuguese is spoken much more nasally and at a different rhythm than Spanish or English. Also, portuguese has several letters that spanish doesn't such as:
ã à â ç ê õ ô.
I think people tend to group the two languages together because they have a lot of cognates (words that are the same) and have a somewhat similar grammar pattern. But again there are some HUGE differences in the grammar. Also, there are tons of "false friends" (words that are spelled and pronounced the same but mean totally different things). For example:
Pelo in spanish means "hair". Pelo in portuguese means "for the". Pronto in spanish means "soon". Pronto in portuguese means "ready". Mas in spanish means "more". Mas in portuguese means "but/however". Again... I could go on and on.
Despite all of this, I am still glad for my background in spanish, and I'm getting better every day. I really don't speak english to anyone here so I'm fully immersed in portuguese almost around the clock.
I have so much more that I could say about Brazil, so I'm going to do another post soon just about some of the observations I've made about the culture and about some of the big differences I've noticed. There is so much to cover that it's impossible for me to say everything I want, so if there's anything anyone wants to know more about let me know:)
I'll leave you with some of the pics I've taken so far.
View from relatives' apartment in Jundiai
Monkeys in botanical garden!
My house :)
Sao Paulo city!!
First Rotary meeting
More pics of my house
A few pics of my city