Arriving in Brazil was a thrilling experience. I was excited and nervous. I had no idea what to expect; this is my first time traveling to a different country other than Canada, which after living in western New York my whole life doesn’t really count as foreign. Already my experiences here have both held traces of familiarity and something new entirely.
The first thing we all noticed when getting off the plane was that we were not hit by the familiar blast of icy Rochester air. It was a welcome feeling to all of us because by this time of the winter we’ve usually resigned ourselves to our chilly and rather unpleasant fates. Instead, the heat welcomed us to Brazil, and I think it’s safe to speak for everyone that we were all delighted. Heat is not unfamiliar entirely, but it’s certainly been a while since we’ve felt it in the air at home! It felt like our first warm welcome to Brazil. The next warm welcome followed as we met Vanessa Martins, International Relations Advisor at the Methodist University of Sao Paulo, and our host families.
As we were lead into Brazil by new friends, we remarked about palm trees and how green and colorful everything is compared to the environment we just left. However, it wasn’t long before I realized the more surprising difference was how traffic works in Brazil.
The rules of the road here in Sao Paulo, Brazil are nothing like the rules in Rochester, NY, and it was with awe, fascination, and the slightest bit of fear that I watched motorcycles and motorbikes whiz in between cars (who also seemed to do the same thing, when able). I guess everyone here is used to that, since we made it to the university safely and no one seemed to want to drive us off the road. It was at that moment that I decided I would never be able to drive in Brazil; I’m aware of my more timid driving habits and the strictness in which I follow the rules and hold others accountable for them. The movement of the cars was like water flowing, stopping as infrequently as possible as it moved past obstacles and rolled on toward its destination. Thinking back on it now, I wonder if a comparison could be made to the culture we’ve begun to immerse ourselves in, but I think it is still too early to tell.
We’ve been welcomed with open and very friendly arms! While we have spoken to only a handful of people, everyone has seemed to be excited to see us and very helpful with getting settled in. Joana, the woman that Anna and Kirstin are staying with, let us all pop in for a visit before Martha and I went off to Gisele’s home and fed us cake and coffee or tea. We’ve been very well fed so far! Not long after arriving at our host’s home we were also given a very delicious lunch of chicken and rice and beans. So far, I’m a fan of Brazilian cuisine. It seemed a little different to me to have a warm lunch in the middle of a hot day, but it’s not like I’ve never done that at home myself. The time was familiar, just about noon when we ate, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal like that for lunch before, unless I was reheating leftovers from dinner the night before.
The people we’ve met have gone out of their way to help us feel comfortable, but I think the others would agree that we want to try as many new things as possible while we’re here… –except maybe driving!