Today was the first time that my roommate and I got to spend a full day entirely with our host family. After many early mornings and long classes, relaxing and spending the day with them was so lovely. After sleeping in a little, we ate breakfast and spent some time tanning and swimming in the pool while we waited for our host mom Vanessa to get back from work. Our host parents niece, Cami, came to spend the day with us to show us around and help with translations.

While on this trip, a reoccurring observation has been expressed by many of us students. We all have gotten the impression that Brazilian people seem to be much more united than at home in the U.S. In the United States, people are very individualized now with an “I’m this, and you’re that” mentality. However, in Brazil, it felt like people may have their differences, but at the end of the day, everyone is Brazilian, so it doesn’t really matter. We all realized we could have this observation because we are very sheltered here. Three weeks may feel like a long time to us, but it is still not long enough to fully observe and understand the complexity of this topic.

Our class picked up this sense of togetherness through the welcoming and caring personalities of the people here. For example, in Capoeira, the most significant idea is how the sport creates respect for one another and the community. Also, we noticed that even the homeless work together and help each other survive, which I have never seen at home in New York. However, when talking with Cami at the pool, Emily and I realized that both countries have similar problems. We learned that political parties here have the same issue that we have in the U.S. It created a massive separation in people who supported President Bolsonaro and the current President De Luca. During this waring campaign, the Brazilian national soccer team’s jersey was even used to represent bad morals. This turned something like soccer, which once united the country, into something that separated it further. Cami told us that, thankfully, the recent World Cup happened just after this crazy time, which turned the jersey back to something that symbolizes the goodness and unity of the country. We learned about other issues like people losing their homes to flooding, which sounded similar to the hurricanes in Florida, and there are also issues of race that are highly similar to problems we face in the United States.

We learned about good similarities as well, which I found fascinating. We learned that Brazilians compare Rio to Los Angeles; it is where Brazil’s media is produced and where the big movie stars live. They also compare São Paulo to New York City, and Paulista Avenue is said to be the Brazilian’s Time Square.

Paulista Avenue was a lot of fun. We looked in some shops and saw the various types of people living there. It did remind us very much of Time Square in NYC. We stopped at a Brazilian coffee shop where we relaxed and talked while drinking fantastic coffee.

Emily and I with our host sister Luísa on Paulista Avenue

There is a large homeless population here, which is another similarity to Rochester. Although in Paulista, at night, the government sets up tents that are raised off the ground under the MASP Museum for people to sleep in. I thought this was very special because I have never seen an initiative like this to help our homeless population at home.

Once we got home for the night, we watched the São Paulo soccer game on T.V. and ended the night by playing Rummikube.

Today was a great day of relaxation, but it also truly immersed us in the Brazilian culture. At the beginning of the trip, looking forward and seeing how long of a trip we had ahead of us was scary. However, now that we only have two days left in São Paulo, it is really sad to go home and leave our amazing host family. Emily and I will forever be grateful to them for their amazing kindness.


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