I write to you all today, Friday, February 21st, which marks the end of the second week of classes. This week felt like the end of the first real week of classes as many of the professors didn’t start the real material until now. It was a very typical first week of class kind of week with a little extra bureaucracy to make things a bit more… let’s say interesting.
I am excited for all of my classes because they are all taught in Portuguese. At first, I originally registered for all classes in English because I the thought of taking a class like international business in Portuguese scared me. After a month of living here, I have found a new desire to learn and confidence that my Portuguese will be good enough. I am taking Comércio Internacional (International Business), Economia Brasileira (Brazilian Economics), Finanças Internacionais, (International Finance), and Level 4 (out of 5) Portuguese. My international business class is much more technical than the one at UF and I am really excited to get a different perspective on this subject. The remainder of my time I hope to fill with an internship and traveling.
For the first time in my life, I don’t have class on Friday!! I am so beyond happy about this because this means that I will have extra time to study, of course, as well as travel or anything else. I took full advantage of my Friday today! I woke up early to work on translating my CV/Resume into Portuguese. Later on, I had lunch with a Brazilian friend of mine that I met in Gainesville while he was studying English at UF. He works for one of the “Big Four” Accounting firms, and was nice enough to offer to review my resume once I finished the translation. We ate at the Botafogo Praia Shopping Mall that has a terrific view of the Botafogo beach. Food was an amazing buffet as usual and I had a great time catching up with him.
After, I moved on to tackle my main goal for the day: make Banana Bread. I had been wanting to make this for the past couple of days because I had some expired bananas that would be perfect for banana bread. As I have mentioned before today’s post, sometimes the simplest things just aren’t that simple here. I made my way by bus from Botafogo to a bigger version of the popular grocery store chain, Pão de Açúcar. One of the things I love about living in Rio is everything is within walking distance, but sometimes you have to walk a little bit further for the better version of where you are trying to go. Now, I thought this through. I had already translated all the ingredients into Portuguese. Thanks to my friend Sara that passed me the recipe I like, I knew I needed things like farinha fermentada (self-rising flour), preferably açúcar mascavo (brown sugar), etc. It turns out regular grocery stores don’t carry brown sugar so I had to go to a specific healthy store called Mundo Verde. I worked out my arms carrying all of the groceries home. Once home, I asked my host dad where the things to measure ingredients were. He looked at me like, “what do you mean? They are right here.” He showed me a glass cup for drinking and the coffee cups we use every day and said in Portuguese, “see, there’s a cup right here and it just depends on how many cups you need.” He proceeded to do the same with the regular spoons to measure tablespoons. I’m not an expert baker, but I know enough to know that usually baking needs to be very precise especially when dealing with flour. I was very nervous about estimating the amounts of the ingredients, but proceeded anyway. Worst case scenario is I don’t get to eat banana bread, right? Next questionable item was the oven. My host mom said I had to use the small, “fit on the counter”, type toaster oven instead of the big oven, which I’m assuming costs too much in electricity. The recipe calls for 20-25 minutes. At 25 minutes, this “bread” was still pudding! I was very nervous that I would overcook it because I reset the timer several times. I didn’t look at the clock initially, but I took more than 40 minutes to finish. Every time, I thought, “For sure it must be done now!” The good news is that it turned out great! THANK GOD!
Other great news today is that my package from Fedex finally arrived! This is another accomplishment because I have been back and forth with Fedex Brazil filling out a very detailed Brazilian customs form. By the third email, I had to add screen-shot pictures from websites proving the value of each item. The most frustrating part was that this package was from my mom and contained things like chocolate ($4.50) and candles ($2.50 each). My best guess as to why I was dragged through this craziness is that it also contained my backup hard drive that I had forgotten. Most electronics in Brazil cost more than double of the cost in the U.S.. Additionally, Brazil places import taxes on any package valued at over $50.00. After calculating all the individual things in the package and the price of shipping, like the hard drive, the candy, makeup from Sephora, sunscreen, etc., the package was “worth” over $200. When I picked up a package from my aunt and grandma last week, I had to pay around US$40 to receive the package! This was on top of the cost of shipping they already paid! So, the even better news is that my mom shipped the package using her Fedex number and there is a giant stamp on it saying, “TAXES PAID BY THE SHIPPER.” Thanks Mom 😉
I also was very happy to receive the contents of the package at a time when some nostalgia was starting to affect me. My mom had put a very nice card in it with a very fitting and inspirational quote:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams… live the life you have imagined. — Thoreau
Since first reading some of Thoreau’s work in high school, I have always liked his quotes. I don’t think my mom even knew that, which makes it even more special. To all my friends and family back home, I love you all! Thank you for the love and support!
To make a long story short, I made some great banana bread, PLEASE do not send me anymore packages, and I love my friends and family!