Friday, 21 June 2013

Brazilian Protests
Oh yes, the protests in Brazil? Had to include an EFL*-related link to the news since, yknow, I'm enough of a geek to be looking up English Language Teaching stuff in my spare time.

Ah the media- they love to sensationalise everything, don't they?
Yes the riots protests got a little out of hand in the big cities (here's looking at you, Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro), but generally speaking the rest of Brazil is pretty safe still.

I mean sure, the protests are spreading, but they aren't violent everywhere. For example, we had protests here (in Sorocaba) yesterday, but it was pretty laidback. Luckily I got a lift from my boss (yay for leaving work at 7pm, since I have the wonderful luck of working for a workaholic!), but even my friend, who had to catch the bus at peak time (is 5pm a global death trap time, or something?), managed to get onto a bus from the bus terminal eventually (the number of protestors surrounding the terminal made it look like it was closed, but actually it just took a little longer to get onto the buses).

Despite this, my flatmate (who went along to see what it would be like), said the 'protests' were pretty tame- even with a lot of people around, nobody was shouting or going insane. You could still have a conversation with the person next to you & be heard by them (& here I was, thinking Brazil was the crazy party capital of the world- what sort of party country doesn't take the opportunity to be loud & crazy whenever they can?!)

So yes, everything is fine over here (I took the bus earlier yesterday, & today morning, without any problems). In fact, after work, I just went out for MacDonald's haha (is it just me, or is it weird that Brazilians go out to MacDonald's as a treat? As in, if they want to impress someone with their weekend plans, they say they're going to MacD's?!)

I guess it makes sense for them though, since many foreign things are very expensive here in Brazil (actually, now that I think about it, just about everything here is expensive (compared to the standard of living anyway)- due to the crazy tax rate applied to all products/ services etc. This is kinda the reason Brazil is protesting in the first place- it's one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world, yet so much of this money ends up going to greedy politicians (sounds like a lot of the world actually) & football stadiums (yes I know your country loves football, but do you guys really need to be spending more for this world cup than the last 3 countries put together have spent?!) In an ideal world, this money should be going towards worthwhile endeavours (you know, like hospitals & schools, so that people don't die from not receiving medical care on time, because they were stupid enough to try mixing caesium with water at home (or any other reason really, but I think that might be the only thing I remember from my chemistry lessons at school)- seriously, don't try mixing those two at home!)

Aaaanyway apologies for the rant, but long story short- if someone tells you the only reason Brazilians are protesting is because their bus fare went up by 20 cents (it's different in each state anyway, but that's a moot point) you can at least be educated enough now to tell them that's not the case. For example, because of the corruption here in Brazil, most of the (free) public universities are much better than the private universities here- doesn't sound very corrupt to you, right? Well, most of the filthy rich families pay for tuition for their children from day 1 (before university) so that they can snatch up all the public places. You might think that's just tough luck, but considering how much we Brits moaned about having to pay £3000 (& subsequently cried a river over the £6000 increase), you'd be building Noah's Ark if you knew how much the tuition fees over here cost!

(I know this video (& the 'Change Brazil' one with the guy in it) have been widely circulated on the internet lately, but I think they're probably the clearest things I've found (in English) addressing what the problem in Brazil right now is:)

So overall, this post is here mainly to calm my mum down reassure everyone that I'm ok.
(PS- so please just ignore my urge to say 'the riots', instead of the protests, every time I mention it- you can all blame lovely London (in 2011) for that, haha.)

Take care,

(PS- If you don't understand any of the acronyms/ terms that I've used anywhere on this blog, please check my glossary page for a definition.)

Thursday, 13 June 2013


My fogao (hob + oven = cooker? stove? I don't even know the word in English anymore, lol!) has been fixed (finally)! =D

(and it was just me who had to talk with the guy who came to fix it, without any help from Brazilian speakers- last time that happened (with the rather unfortunate bathroom incident), I spoke such little English that the last guy said he wouldn't come to fix anything here ever again unless a proper Portuguese speaker was present. But look at me now, all able to understand the guy telling me how to open & close the gas valve, how I should always shut it when I leave the house (for my safety), & understanding his smalltalk when he told me that he has 4 kids (2 from another marriage)- how's my Portuguese NOW, huh? =P Granted my boss came with the technician the first time around, to explain what the problem with the stove was, but I still figured all the rest of this stuff the second time around- so let me have my moment of falsified glory for a moment, please!)

Monday, 3 June 2013

Summary Week #2, Quick Update (29th May- 9th June)

Yeah, as you can see I'm not very good at running a blog- what's happening here is remniscient of what I went through in my childhood. You see, this blog reminds me of the new Barbie dolls I got as a kid- I'd spend ages playing with them excitedly when I first got them, before accidentally ripping their heads off when trying to brush their mangled hair forgetting all about them, as I explored new things in life.

I guess that's a long-winded way of saying that I need to learn to be more concise with my explanations you can be reassured that I'm not dead just because I haven't been updating regularly- quite the opposite, in fact. I've been adapting to life in this new country, to the point where I forget to post here (or I haven't been able to, because I've been without internet for the past 4 days, out in the middle of the Brazilian countryside enjoying these new & foreign experiences).

Let me provide a brief summary again of what I've been up to (I know I know- I already promised to go into detail about a bunch of other stuff I already summarised from last week (like my first day at work), but I've realised I procrastinate too much I have to be realistic about deadlines.) It doesn't realistically look like I'm going to be able to update this blog fully until at least 15th June (yes, that's 2 weekends away). Let me explain why...

  • Wednesday: Salgados agaaaain arghh! & then my second work day (again rehashing question formation of the present perfect tense, but to 2 students only), followed by dinner at Hakka Sushi!
  • Thursday: It was a national holiday in Brazil, for 'Corpo Christo', so we headed off on a road trip far too early in the morning for my nocturnal patterns to a small town called Reginópolis.
  • Friday: This small town is where my flatmate's grandmother lives- there wasn't much to do, but it was nice to unplug for a bit (hence my lack of posts, or connection to the real world at all, for that matter)
  • Saturday: We had lunch with some of her family (we had a barbeque, on what can be best described as an indoor aga), visited a tomato farm, & ate at a small American style outdoor 'country' restaurant
  • Sunday: This was the day we had to leave, so we stocked up on good homemade cooking stopped by yet another house for lunch before hitting the road (yes, I was ready to hibernate very full by the end of this trip!)
  • Monday: Today I was supposed to go into work today (just the office, to plan my lessons), but I had to call in sick- I think I've contracted some sort of flu from the weekend (Barbara seems convinced it's swine flu, but I'm not so sure- ah well, should probably dig out the insurance policy, just in case lol)

As for the rest of the week, that really depends on how much better I end up feeling after today. I took the day off work & have been resting ever since (it's already past 6pm here), so I hope it'll clear up soon! Here are the plans (at the moment) for the rest of the week though):

  • Tuesday: Lesson planning at the office (will have to work extra hard, since I didn't go in today unless I can stop being ill long enough to do some planning at home today as well!)
  • Wednesday: First lesson this week, at a company outside of Sorocaba (so glad my boss drives me there!) It'll be on cross-cultural differences & present perfect Qs (third chance to use the same plan!)
  • Thursday: Not confirmed just yet (am still waiting for my schedule), but my boss says I may be giving one-to-one lessons in the AM (which I'm more scared about than teaching a class- lots of pressure)! And then I'll go with Fernanda to do boring admin (like registering with the police, getting an RNE (like a national insurance number, for foreigners working in Brazil), opening a Brazilian bank account etc (riveting, I know- but these everyday tasks are the hardest part about living abroad!)
  • Friday: Get ready for the LC Weekend! Barbara's organising it, so I guess I'll have to go with her earlier to sort everything out & set things up etc... never been on the organising side of an EPIC*!
  • Saturday: Sorry, so an EPIC is like a conference event hosted by the AIESEC LC** here in Sorocaba, to help introduce the trainees to each other etc- it should be fun!
  • Sunday: Last day of the LC Weekend (& then I'll have to help tidy up the place, which I'm guessing is going to take a while if it's a whole 2 day affair...!)

So yes, I've only just finished my second week here & I already have lots to do! Hence why I think I might stick to this sort of blog format (post maybe once or twice a week, giving a quick update for each day, & then maybe post more according to how much time I have). 

Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to blog about! I want to write soooo much more, but I don't have the time (nor do I know where to start). So getting some suggestions from you guys might help me to organise things into much more structured blog posts (or it could just be a ploy for me to procrastinate posting anything again).

Anyway, till next time- I'm off to take some more flu meds & sleep some more!

Take care,


*EPIC: Exchange Participant Introductory Conference (EPs are people like me, who go on exchange programs abroad through AIESEC- so this will introduce those of us doing our exchanges in Sorocaba!)
**LC: Local Committee (A word of warning- AIESEC like their abbreviations a lot, so I've actually added an AIESEC section to my glossary page- see the links at the top of this blog for more info!)

(PS- If you don't understand any of the acronyms/ terms that I've used anywhere on this blog, please check my glossary page for a definition.)