First Impressions on Rio de Janeiro

Getting off of the plane in Sao Paolo, Brazil on January 6th, 2016 was like stepping into a whole new world, where I didn’t understand anything that was going on around me. It was the first time in my entire life where I couldn’t speak the language, Portuguese. Coming from a background of English and Spanish, I had to work hard to keep up. Some of the words in the Sao Paolo airport shared the same roots with Spanish – estaçáo meant estación and pessoas translated to personas – so I was able to get a round a bit. What stunted me was oral communication… I knew nothing. At this point, I was aware that I was in a completely different country with a completely different language and that I was going to be here for another 6 months. It all happened so fast. At one moment, I was in New York, waiting in line and saying goodbye to my family members, and the next I was in Brazil.

From Sao Paolo, I needed to board a connecting domestic flight to Rio de Janeiro, which meant that I had to find my own way around the international airport. Luckily, many of the workers in the airport spoke a little bit of English, which at the point seemed easier to communicate with since everyone was just confused by my Spanish (later I would find that what people prefer is Portunol, a mix of Spanish and Portuguese that helps foreigners better understand Brazilians.) After finding the right terminal, I geared right to where the small plane that would take me to Rio awaited. While on the line, I noticed a guy on SnapChat, writing English. I instinctively tapped him on the back, eager to talk to someone who could take be back home. His name was Deonte and as it turned out, he was also studying abroad at a PUC in Curibita, Brazil, and was originally from a small town in California, but was traveling to Rio in order to see what was up. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and learn about what Brazil was like so far for him — he’d been in the country for a total of 6 months. At that point, we boarded the plane. I sat in the 13th row, next to the window.

The best part of sitting next to the window was that domestic flights fly significantly lower than international flights and January 6th was a clear sky kinda day. As I entered Rio de Janeiro from above, I could clearly see the outlines of the city’s skylines, highlighted by massive, colorful favelas interspersed along the city’s skyline. Unfortunately, I kept looking for Christ the Redeemer as my guiding star while staring out of the window, and to no avail I couldn’t find it.

Once landing in Rio things got busy. I stepped out of the terminal and saw that PUC’s concierge was standing right in front, holding up a sign for visiting students to see. Thankfully Deonte was with me to talk with the man because if not, I wasn’t sure how I would have got around. More students began piling in and I got acquainted with everyone around me by means of speaking English. It was then that I learned just how wide speaking English spanned.

We piled into the car and got driving to drop all of the girls off. When we got to my apartment, I was stunned. I was going to live in the famous bairro of Copacobana, on the boarder of Ipanema, for the next 5 months, right on the beach. I could literally walk 1 minute and be on the beach. Upstairs, I noticed that my room had a balcony and I fell in love. I also was so happy that I got paired with a girl from New York as well! As soon as I got in, we decided to go to the beach and drink some capirinhas, because, what better way to relax after a 17 hour flight?

Stay tuned for more to come! 🙂

A Slow Week

Ipanema Fair

Ipanema Fair

Second Week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I have started to get used to my regular week schedule. Last Sunday, I went to a hippie fair in Ipanema, apparently it takes place every Sunday and they sell things like: paintings, clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc. It is a nice place to buy souvenir at a bargained prices. Later during the week I got sick: since its their winter, it was rainy, wet and cold, I including several other people in the group got sick and we spend two days in bed and visiting the doctor.  Later on we went to Botafogo, one of the site visits for our class, it was fun and interesting. Fun because we got a tour of the club, the places they practice and the arena they practice in; plus, we got a presentation on the marketing they do and it was quite interesting. Apart from that we as a class have been learning Portuguese in PUC and it is nice because we get to or at least try to have a conversation with the locals here. This class has really encouraged us to start conversing in Portuguese even if it is a sentence or two. I have also been meeting many new people here and have gotten use to this area now. I feel comfortable walking around this area alone and anyone new who comes to the hostel here, I can easily introduce them around the area. Together as a group we have also started to pool in money to buy food and cook for each other. These family dinners (as I like to call them) are a lot of fun, it bonds us all and it also saves us a lot of money, in terms of food. So far I have adjusted to the area here and found my comfort here. Was sick due to the weather but now I am recovering and am ready now to explore Rio de Janeiro further.

Leaving for Brazil

This is has been a busy week and it’s the week I leave for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The university that I am attending in Rio is called Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro also known as PUC, the class I will be taking in this university is called Doing Business in Latin America. I am super excited and thrilled about this opportunity, within this week, I had to make all the arrangements before I leave for Brazil from my paperwork to luggage to the goodbyes to the last minute shopping. The process so far has been a hectic one yet its fun, after the end of each task I remind myself I am a step closer to Brazil and so far it has carried me forward.


Its a mess, but worth it none the less!

My family has been a huge help in this process because I was juggling finals, graduation preparations and at the same time arrangement for this process, and so far in this journey, they have given me their valuable input and my brother even voluntarily did some research for Brazil just to keep me updated. These are the times when you realize what you are leaving behind to study abroad, and it also stays a constant reminder that when you come back from the trip, this is the sweet and supportive family you are coming back to.


My brother

Friends, colleagues and relatives also bid their goodbyes this week and yesterday happened to meet an old friend in New Paltz who had just comeback from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was very happy to hear I was going to do study abroad and she told me about the places to see in Brazil. A Brazilian friend of mine has also introduced me to her cousin, who is currently living in Rio and a colleague of mine has also introduced to one of her friends settled in Rio. So, I have to meet these wonderful individuals in Brazil, visit the various places described by my friend, visit PUC, get to know all my group members and classmates, plus, get immersed into the Brazilian culture. This one month journey is going to be amazing, and I cannot wait for it to start. But before that, there were and are so many people that helped me, supported me and guided me in this process and cannot thank you enough for everything that you guys have done for me.