Yesterday, we had our first Portuguese lesson here in São Paulo. As a result, I gained confidence in my Portuguese skills and was feeling muito proficiente (very proficient). Our host family arranged for a driver to pick us up to take us to UMESP, who speaks very little English. He asked us where we were going, and we told him, “Universidad Metodista de São Paulo.” He nodded and said, “Oh! Universidad!” then proceded to point to the University we were driving by, asking us if that was where we were trying to go.

Kayla and I tried with little success to tell him where we were going, all while he kept going on the route we thought he was going in the first place, toward UMESP. We didn’t realize until later that he was joking, and that he knew exactly where we wanted to go the whole time. He thought he could trick Kayla and I, who are ignorant foreigners. Obviously it worked!

While we had been trying with little success to speak Portuguese, Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” started playing, and it seemed so out of place in this country where we’re still learning the language (which,  just for the record, is way more difficult than Spanish). Although I was feeling a bit out of my element, hearing a familiar song helped me relax and laugh at myself.

Later in the day, after many attempts at speaking Portuguese, we were on our way back to our host family’s house. During the ride back, our host mom asked if we wanted to see what McDonald’s in Brazil is like. She had told us previously that McDonald’s in Brazil is much fancier than the McDonald’s in America, so we were curious to see what it’d be like. The menu was similar, but one of the specialty items was unfamiliar: Ovaltine milkshakes. Our host mom, Andrea, insisted that we try them and tell her what we thought. We (not so hesitantly) obliged – I tried the Ovaltine milkshake, and Kayla tried the Ovaltine McFlurry. Even though the food in Brazil is phenomenal, it was nice to have something familiar for a change.

(Photos courtesy of Kayla Richardson)

It’s amazing how much a Taylor Swift song and a visit to McDonald’s can make a foreign country seem much less foreign. Even though Portuguese is still a giant to conquer, I have confidence that we will continue to get better and better.

-Haven Robart

Categories: Brazil 2018


Susan Richardson · May 10, 2018 at 9:41 pm

Haven, what an incredible opportunity you all are having! As I read through these posts, I can’t help but think of the people you are all coming in contact with daily. It’s almost as exciting for them to share their own culture and country as it is for you students to learn and experience it! What a blessing!

    Amy Kovach · May 10, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    We are so blessed—so many new experiences!

Rebekah Distaffen · May 10, 2018 at 11:57 pm

Aww, Haven <3 I'm glad that even for an experienced world traveler like yourself there's an element of discomfort. It makes me feel better about being kind of uncomfortable and confused. And, it's good because God often works best in the uncomfortable. But, the little things things that remind us of home are so important 🙂 I love reading about all the adventures you and Kayla are having with your host family!

    Amy Kovach · May 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Those two have an amazing host family!

Peter Saxena · May 12, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Haven that is so cool. You should ask Hannah about her McDonalds experience when she went to India. It was pretty similar to yours. Sometimes simple French fries and milkshakes can give you a taste of home and make you feel so good. Have fun.

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