Winter in Brazil

Hi all!

I was planning to write a couple of weeks ago, however, I dropped my laptop and it has been at a shop being repaired. :-/  I finally decided to finish this post using Pedro's computer!

The past month I have been developing somewhat of a routine, tutoring individuals in the condominium in the mornings and teaching at Yázigi in the afternoons.  I have been a little homesick, although I can't quite use that word, because in fact, I miss more than my 'hometown'...I miss my family, I miss my friends in the US and in Korea, I miss having my own apartment, knowing where to find things and go places alone, etc. But I am adjusting and learning more Portuguese every day!

Some of my students at Yázigi
One day when I was feeling a little homesick, my coworkers suggested making bolinho de chuva, which literally means "rain scone" but it's basically a homemade doughnut with cinnamon and sugar.  We all got together during our afternoon break and went over to Iara's house and made them together.  And it was a perfect day for it, sprinkling a little bit all day long! They were delicious... :-)

A few weeks ago the school hosted a pizza and karaoke night for the students.  After being in Korea, I am VERY used to singing karaoke with friends and coworkers, but I was surprised at how much fun brazilians had singing and dancing together!  I should have known they would have been naturals... ;-)  Above all, the teachers' rendition of "I'm sexy and I know it" really brought down the house.

Heloisa, Marcela, and I singing "A Thousand Years"  

My coworkers at Yázigi

During the Corpus Cristi holiday a few weeks ago, I explored downtown São Paulo on my own.  Pedro really didn't want me to go alone, but he had to work all day on Friday and I had no classes. 

So, I arrived at the bus stop with the intention of following the directions he had given me: Take the bus to Santa Cruz and then take the subway to Sé where the cathedral is. However, when I arrived at the bus stop, there was a bus approaching that said "Praça da Sé"  and this is precisely where I wanted to go!  I hopped on and rode it until the last stop: downtown.

Catedral da Sé

Catedral da Sé
 I entered Catedral da Sé and walked around the square a bit. Then I asked some policeman nearby how I could walk to Mosteiro São Bento (speaking only in Portuguese of course!).  I arrived at the Monastery and spent some time inside.  I wandered around outside for a little while trying not to look like a tourist.
I had no trouble walking around until I asked a parking attendant how I could walk to Estacão da Luz.  She informed me that it was too dangerous to walk there alone and that I should take the subway there even though it was only one stop away.

Pátio do Colégio

Mosteiro São Bento

Estacão da Luz and Parque da Luz were very beautiful, but like she said, they are located in a bad area of downtown and are thus a little run down and host many strange or homeless people of the city. All in all, I had a nice day and I felt very liberated after making my way downtwown alone and using my survival street smarts and Portuguese skills! ;-)

Estacão da Luz
Estacão da Luz

Parque da Luz

Parque da Luz

We've also gone to Campos do Jordão several times because Pedro's parents have an apartment there.  This city is nearby and it is located in the mountains.  It is very popular this time of year because it is one of the colder cities in this area to visit during the winter.

Last time we went with Pedro's brother José, his girlfriend Gabriela, his cousin Lucas, and his girlfriend Flavia. It was nice to walk around downtown at night because the town was full of people eating and drinking at cute outdoor bars and restaurants all decorated with lights!

Last weekend we drove to a town nearby called São Francisco Xavier and ate a a beautiful restaurant nestled into the mountains.  The countryside is beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing the surrounding towns, although the car ride made me a little sick (the road was so curvy!).  But the view from the restaurant was beautiful and we had a lovely afternoon together :-)

São Francisco Xavier

I miss you all!

Beijos e abraços,



Getting settled in...

Hello everyone!

My life has become a little busier since I last wrote.  Now I am working part time at an English school in São José (the one where Bia takes classes).  Yázigi offered me better pay and benefits than the other schools, however, I have a gap in between classes in the afternoon from 3 - 6pm.  Because of this, I was trying to negotiate Portuguese classes for free, so that I could be taught during this free period and I could be more productive with my time. I haven't been told when I will begin, but there is another teacher with a degree in Portuguese, Renan, who will try to tutor me when his schedule allows.  

Their house in São José
Bananeiras - one of my favorite plants in their backyard

I have 4 different groups of teenagers at Yázigi and 3 separate adults who come in the evenings for tutoring. The teenagers in the afternoon range from 14 - 18 yrs and the students who come at 6 pm are a bit older, maybe 17 - 25 yrs. All of them are so kind and very excited to get to know me!  As a whole, they are MUCH more outgoing and talkative than my Korean students in the past.  And whenever I ask them something about Brazil, they all want to tell me at once!  All of the teachers at Yázigi are about my age as well, and it has been a really good experience so far. :-)
The English school where I work

 I have also begun teaching private English classes to a few ladies who live in the same condominium as Pedro's parents. Two of the ladies' English abilities are fairly advanced and they can carry on a conversation with me. They both want to practice and improve their grammar and vocabulary.

However, there is one lady who knows NO English...I mean zero!!!  I had my first meeting with her this past week and we ended up speaking in Portuguese for the whole hour!  I started off by asking, "What's your name?"  That was the only question she could answer in English....so I had to use my broken Portuguese to explain to her how we could approach her classes. I will continue with her in May after she returns from vacation...if anyone has any ideas for me, let me know!

This weekend, Pedro, Bia, and I saw a movie: The Call, with Halle Barry. It was a terrifying account of a 911 operator trying to save a young girl from a serial killer. Afterwards, Bia and I were a little shaken up so we went to pick up a pizza and watched reruns of That 70's Show on tv. Last Sunday we went back to a restaurant in São José that I loved so that we could have the Pintado. This fish is very orange and can only be found in the rivers of South America, mainly in Brazil. They serve it with rice, potatoes, and fried bananas - it is amazing!!
Pintado, potatoes, rice, and a fried banana - yum!!
We've also been eating a lot of Açaí!
Açaí with bananas
I can't compare the distinct flavor to anything else!
I attended a sort of bridal shower/party with Cecília and met a lot of her childhood friends from São José.  We played games and had some nice food there: beijinho, coxinha, sangria, etc.  Ciça took some pictures there, but I don't have them to attach right now...All of the girls were a lot of fun, but unfortunately they all live in São Paulo now... :-(

Cecília has left for Italy now and my days have been a bit lonely without her...However, I have been keeping myself busy with English classes, and  soon I will also be studying Portuguese with a tutor. I hope you all are well!  Miss you!




My first week in Brazil

Hi all!

I just wanted to give everyone some updates about my time in Brazil so far.

I arrived just before the Easter holiday and Norma prepared Easter
baskets for all of us!  I guess she has prepared these "ninhos"
(nests) since they were kids. I also found out that it is very
traditional to give chocolate and chocolate eggs to all of the family

On Good Friday it is traditional to eat fish because they do not eat
meat on this day. Every Easter they have "bacalhau" (codfish), which
is Alfredo's favorite meal.  He was very happy for me to try it!

On Easter Sunday, we went to Norma's mother's house and I met Pedro's
aunts and uncles from his mom's side (Norma is 1 of 7!!!). They all
told me they were so happy that I could come with Pedro and that they
hoped we wouldn't have to be apart anymore <3.

This past weekend we went to the sítio. This is their grandfather's
farm in São Bento, a small city 1.5 hours from their house in São
José. They told me that they used to spend the entire summer vacation
there with all of their cousins when they were young. The main house
has 6 rooms, and there is at least 2 beds in each room. It's a very
old house, but they have taken care of it. There is a small creek
"riachinho" that runs beside the house (almost exactly like the one
next to ours!) that holds water all year long. When you wake up, it
sounds like it's raining, it's beautiful!

While we were staying at the sítio, we also went driving around São Bento to see a famous rock on top of the mountains called "pedra do baú" meaning sort of a rock chest from it's square shape.  On the way home we stopped at an "horto florestal," a park with gardens, and walked around.


 Pedro and I have also been exercising together regularly.  I need to,
especially because Norma is happy to have me eating well here! We have
been playing tennis and running on the path around their condominium.
I've surprised myself, as I'm able to run the complete 2 mile path
without stopping!

Pedro is starting at Samsung today and will be staying with his dad at
their apartment in São Paulo. This will be my first week staying in
São José dos Campos without him :-/ .

I've had a few interviews, and after all of them I have received
positive feedback; however, since their semester just started in
February, there are not many open classes which still need
instructors. Hopefully I can work part time somewhere and maybe do
some tutoring as well. Let's see!

Meanwhile I am studying Portuguese and I'm amazed by how much more I
understand and speak compared to the last time I visited!  I did go
through a Portuguese language book while I was in Korea, and hearing
it constantly is helping my listening skills tremendously.

I am attaching a few pictures (I haven't taken very many since I
arrived...I guess I am trying to convince myself that I'm not on
vacation anymore!)

I hope you are all doing well!  I will update more next week.

Beijos e abraços,