So I’ve been in Brazil for almost five weeks now and it’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride of emotions! The first week was great, the second was more difficult as culture shock set in, and I think I’m now gradually adapting to the Brazilian way of life!
Since my last post, I’ve been extremely busy! University term started at the beginning of August, although due to the Olympics, we’ve had plenty of days off as the UFMG is right next to the Mineirão football stadium. Which also meant a hilarious incident with a suspected bomb… The Grupo de Explosivos e Bombas (Federal Police Bomb Disposal Squad) were called out when the University was closed as an abandoned rucksack had been found on site. So they successfully detonated it, opened up the bag and discovered…a pair of shoes and a change of clothes. Better safe than sorry, I guess!
I actually had to opportunity to go to a women’s football match in the Mineirão during the Olympics – the tickets were ridiculously cheap and we had a great view, although I have to be honest and admit that I wasn’t that interested in the match, but the atmosphere was great!
A few days later we went to visit Inhotim, the largest open air modern art museum in the world! It was absolutely huge – we would never have managed to see everything in a day – and the park itself is beautiful, even if some of the exhibits were a bit strange (for example, a wall made out of lumps of meat…).
We also went and stayed with a friend in Serra do Cipó, which is about a 2 hour drive from Belo Horizonte. I managed to get quite burnt and very bitten by mosquitos, but swimming in the waterfalls in the park made it all worth it.
What have I learnt over the past month?
- That I’m really going to miss Brazilian food when I go home! (Yes, I’m already trying to work out how to smuggle frozen creme de açaí onto the plane next year). My favourite things include (but are not limited to) pão de queijo, doce de leite, anything with peanuts in, and farofa.
- That I’ve never been super-punctual, but Brazil has made me even worse! I blame the vague bus timetables…
- That if I need to go to the bank, I should probably bring something to do. In the last week I’ve had lots of issues with my account, and totalled up a whopping 4 hours in the waiting room…
- That Southampton really needs to work on how it welcomes international students. And by that I mean the individuals. Most of my international friends last year spoke of how isolated they felt studying in the UK, given that the stereotype of English people being reserved is often true among students. In Brazil a lot of people make the effort to go the extra mile and are super welcoming and hospitable. In Southampton, many British people can’t even be bothered to have a (albeit sometimes slow and confusing) conversation in English with a student from overseas. Sadly, many international students never see the inside of a British person’s house. And that’s something that we need to change.
I’ve been working on a powerpoint with the help of a few of my Southampton friends here which goes through all the steps of Brazilian bureaucracy, so if you’re reading this and are thinking about going to Brazil on your year abroad, please get in contact with me and I’ll pass you all the information. You’ll need it!