One of the hardest parts of blending in and feeling happiness in Rio was not speaking Portuguese and my quest to learn the language. Until you have the experience of being 'without words' to communicate, it's difficult to understand the feeling of loneliness, of exclusion and the lack of connection.
I always, ALWAYS, encourage people to learn at least a little bit of a language before moving to any country. You will have so much more freedom if you do.
I took a Portuguese class before I came to Brazil, but it was nothing compared to the Portuguese I have learned while living here, learning with Brazilians. Learning with a Brazilian is the best way to 'speak Brazilian' - to understand the slang, the cultural references, the double entendres, the rules of society...
Whether you are moving to Brazil or already living here, language is the key to your freedom and independence. It's what will paralyze you on your weaker days, and give you the biggest sense of accomplishment on your strong ones.
"But Lindsey, I don't know how to find a Portuguese teacher!"
Let me make your life easier and proudly plug someone very near and dear to my heart. His name is Rodrigo and yes, he is my husband.
Rodrigo is a Brazilian native and my best Portuguese teacher of all time. He can help you too. Please visit the page at the top of my blog that says "Learn Portuguese with a Brazilian" if you need Portuguese in your life (or if you need Rodrigo in your life, but if that's the case maybe we should talk first! *wink*)
But I don't mind sharing, if it helps you communicate better. It's true, without language you get really good at hand gestures and really, miming becomes a skill you didn't know you had. But miming only gets you so far when you're trying to understand social references, like Michel Telo's uberly popular song "Ai, Se Eu Te Pego" (Actually, I take it back. Miming is just fine for this song.)
Point is, if you need Brazil you need Portuguese. Rodrigo can help you.
P.S. He's cute too so you'll be getting a two for one deal, lucky you!
Did you hear? The Oscar Nominees have been released, for our viewing pleasure! This year the Oscars will be shown on February 26 at 10pm Brazilian Time.
Just a little tip, you CAN watch the Oscars without the horrible horrible dubbing. If you're watching on cable, you just have to press the SAP button (we have Net, so it's the green audio button).
Why am I so excited about the Oscars? Why, because I am planning my umpteenth annual Oscars party, that's why! In Brazil, it will be the second annual, but many an Oscars party I have attended in my life. This year however, is the first year I've been so ahead of the game.
My goal this year is to watch every single nominated film before the Oscars. That way I'll even be able to participate in the crappy categories, like Best Sound Mixing or Best Short Film - Live Action (what the hell is that??) Point is, I want to make this a good party and that means you gotta know your product.
I usually like to make voting cards so that everyone can vote for who they think will win. This year I'm even gonna take it up a notch and bring betting into the mix. That, or I"ll make it a drinking game. Depends on how broke we are.
It is also necessary to dress up for an Oscars' party, in your best Oscars attire. In grade 9 I wore my middle school prom dress, for example. This year, I'll prob go with a short dress but maybe add some gloves or feathers? Feathers always mean fancy. (or tacky, but at your do-it-yourself Oscars party you can afford to be a little tacky!)
So, anyone else like to participate in these award shows? Or having theme parties in general? If you read my blog, you already know I'm a fan of themed parties. They make me happy, and that's what it's all about, folks.
Well, almost a month has gone by since my last post and so much has happened. It's not fair for me to keep it all to myself.
Side note** I imagined that moving to Botafogo would have given me more time - more time for blogging, class prep, and all of the indoor activities I was used to doing. Our move has done the exact opposite (not complaining) but more time outside and spent with friends means less time for blogging.
In the past month since my birthday I've:
Had 4 visitors
Taken the train to the Cristo
Rode the bondinho to Pao de Acucar
Taken 1 trip to the Tenda Espirita de Umbanda
Read 2 books
Done 5 consecutive days of yoga (dotted with several other days)
Gone to the beach 3 times
Bought a ticket to the Carnaval Parade
That's of course not even everything but that's what has taken up the majority of my time for the last few weeks! So far 2012 is off to a great start, with no apocalypse in sight!
My first two visitors were my mom and sister. It had been a year since I'd seen them and while the year went fast, so much can change in that time. I notice the changes in myself so much more when I am reunited by my family and friends from home. You might say I've become more 'Brazilian' - I don't know if that's necessarily true but I guess we are all a product of our environments. I certainly like to shower more and clean my house more, wink wink (but I still ALWAYS take my shoes off when I enter the house, because shoes in the house is just gross to me!)
I wouldn't say I'm becoming more 'Brazilian' because there are so many things about Brazilian culture that I still don't identify with, and probably never will, since I didn't grow up with the same understanding of the world from Brazilian eyes. Now my eyes are broader (in terms of cultural experiences) than those of my (my specific) Canadian peeps and of my Brazilian peeps. That makes me neither more Canadian nor more Brazilian, it just makes me 'me'. A combination of experiences that could relate with both sides, but at times makes me feel very removed.
I have big fears of our inevitable move back to Canada. It's taken a long time to 'assimilate' into Brazilian culture. To learn the language, the general rules of society, how to get around, what the prices of a pineapple should be. A lot of blood, sweat (a freakin' LOT of sweat) and tears (also, a BUTT LOAD of tears) have gone into getting myself to the point I'm at today - a point where I feel I'm actually growing as a person: not standing still, or worse, moving backwards.
I feel like it will be difficult to find common ground with people once I'm back home since this huge period of constant adjustment has been the centre of my life for so long. It's the first time in my life that work, money, clothes and 'things' have played so little importance to who I am.
I know these things are very important to Canadians (whether they like to believe that or not).
They were very important to me, too. They are still important to me, to my happiness. But they aren't the centre of my happiness, like I always felt was the true race to life. To work as much as possible, to make as much as possible, to have a big house, to buy a lot of things, to have a car, to travel everywhere... I feel like I can see things with clearer eyes now.
Maybe I can say that because I've found my true calling with English teaching - my job doesn't feel like I'm torturing my soul, like it used to. My true love of language, of teaching others, of sharing information, connecting with people, seeing the product of my work... What if I can't find that again when we move back to Canada?
Living in another country is like being on a permanent holiday. Everything is different and new every day, even if you're doing it for the 100th time - it's not the way you grew up doings things. No matter what level of Portuguese you are, you are always hearing a foreign language on the street. Drinking coconut water at the beach still feels like a special event.
There is something very exciting about living life this way. Even when nothing really happens, so much is happening every day.
I think that's why my husband would prefer to live in Canada. If it gave him the same feelings it gives me living in Brazil, I can't blame him. Although for him, it's a much different sensation, I'm sure.
The reality is Canada is easier. Canada is more organized. Canadians are polite and they look out for each other, in general. In Brazil, you're fighting the fight alone, give or take a few specific situations that bring the community out in people (Danielle and I talked about this exact topic while at the Farmer's Market by my house - the Market is a place I see a lot of community, but step outside the streets of the market and a car is sure to run you down).
Anyway, I didn't even get into more details of what I've done the last month but it has generally been a great month of reflection for me. I also want to talk about the Centro of Umbanda that we went to, which was very interesting and awesome. If you haven't heard of Spiritism in Brazil, or Umbanda (which is not the 'black magic' one) check out the wikipedia def that I linked up above.
Other than that, my cats are lovely, my friends are lovely (Danielle and Alex's weekend here was GREAT GREAT GREAT), and JIM has totally made it possible for me to experience my first Sambodromo during Carnaval! Woo! 2012 is looking fine! (as long as the world doesn't end!)
P.S. We aren't moving back to Canada any time soon but we have been doing some life planning which has got the question coming up in my mind... Never hurts to think about it.
Does anyone else have the same fears about re-assimilating into your own culture? Or have the experience of actually doing it?