Tuesday May 13:
Short synopsis of the day. We visited UNESP (the main university here in Rio Preto) where our guide/friend Rafael attends school and studies English and where our teacher Gisele teaches English. Small but nice campus. Delicious frijoles e arroz. Mainly we learned about the school, which classes it offers, education in Brazil and how UNESP has a strong influence on the development of society through the Sao Paolo state. Gisele emphasized the fact that only 15% of students pursue higher education in Brazil and that the government is now investing more money in higher education and pushing the idea of higher education on its students because Brazil is a rapidly growing country that needs engineers to facilitate the infrastructure and use of alternative fuels (like the sugar cane mill), doctors for its growing population, etc. The UNESP campus in Rio Preto that we visited is the only campus that offers studies in translation, literature, and language so many people move to Rio Preto for that reason, and that explains why so many of our friends from Rafael’s college party spoke perfect English (hooray for us). Later that day a few of us were curious about the Brazilian Walmart so we went to check that out. Exactly the same except liquor is cheaper and there aren’t as many butt cracks as the ones in good ole ‘merica. We went out to the bar again that night since in was “American Music” night. Cliche but we had to represent. – sorry, I lied about the short synopsis.
In this post I wanted to mention the Portuguese language. I think somewhere in my lineage there is a Portuguese ancestor because I have picked the language up so fast I’m basically a native (if you don’t count the white skin, blonde hair, blue eyes). I studied Spanish all throughout high-school and was Spanish club president ( I also have a tattoo in Spanish and still wish to study contemporary dance there for a semester. But that is a bridge I will hopefully cross in the Spring), and it has given me such a base to work with since the languages are so similar. Basically don’t pronounce the “v’s” as “b’s” as you would in Spanish, “r’s” make an “h” sound instead, anything ending in “ão” sounds like a deep guttural “ung”, and just say everything as fast as you can so it all runs together and you can’t QUITE distinguish different words, and there you have Portuguese. Being able to pick up on the language so fast obviously makes it much easier to communicate with everyone and I feel much more immersed into the culture because although it is harder to understand what they say to me, because it doesn’t have a southern Tennessee accent, I CAN understand them to an extent and actually hold conversations, barter at the market, order food at restaurants seamlessly, etc. Although 4 of the other people on this trip actually studied Portuguese I find myself right along side them when speaking because it has become second nature over the past week and a half. Rafael told me I should take Portuguese classes but I told him unless he wanted to pay $1,200 for my extra credit hours that I would have to stick to my DuoLingo Language App and simply living in Brazil and learning it “immersion style”. That has been my greatest accomplishment thus far I would say: being able to use my knowledge to study and work my way through the Portuguese language this fast and utilize it to my fullest advantage.