Greetings blog followers!
The time has come to return with a vengeance. For most of you who are consistent followers, I'm sure it eats you alive inside to open my page and see "Near Death" time and again...so I'm relieving you all today haha.
At the end of last semester, I took a much needed break and disconnected from nearly all things Brazil, blog included. I flew back to the US for the Holidays and got to hug and kiss all the family members, I was able to keep my commitment of working for the Orange Bowl and was fortunate enough to also work the National Championship game pitting Notre Dame vs. Alabama. From there, I made a quick adventure to the homeland of Cincinnati for some precious time with friend and of course, the awaited Skyline Chili (not to worry, I grabbed a can or two that returned with me to Brazil).
After my time in Cincinnati, I got to return a huge favor and hosted my Brazilian friend from my school who was paired up with me as my buddy and we did a mini-US tour! We went straight tourist on our itinerary beginning in Chicago (Wilson tour, Magnificent Mile, Chicago Bulls game, Field Museum, Planetarium, Science & Industry, Aquarium, Portillos Italian Beef, Giordano's Chicago style pizza, and of course, my favorite...Rodity's Greek food!).
From Chicago, we jet-set east to the one and only New York City, where we were welcomed with below zero temperatures...a new experience for my South American friend! We were outside walking the first day there and I was talking away and he finally didn't respond, to which I realized he was too cold to talk and his look reassured my realization haha. It was even a greater joy to see his face at the first sight of snow! While I have been to Chicago a number of times, despite not always being a tourist, NYC was mostly a first for me as well, which was quite a treat. Although we mutually agreed that Chicago was much cleaner than New York, NYC had plenty of attractions for us and we took advantage of seeing them for the first time (Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern History, Central Park, Wall Street, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Broadway Show, Carnegie Deli, Times Square, the list goes on!) Even funnier was that at nearly every turn, we were face-to-face with Brazilians...which was good Portuguese practice for me.
After our NYC tour, we headed to my parents in Buffalo where the snow actually held off until my last day and we were able to get a nice wintery view of Niagara Falls, get in some much needed shopping, and got some sports action in by seeing a Buffalo Sabres hockey game and a Buffalo Bulls basketball game. On the shopping scene, you'll be happy to know that the Brazilians are pumping a bunch of $ into the US economy...mostly with electronics. My friend had a field day at the Apple Store and Best Buy. Taxes on electronics in Brazil are outrageous...in most cases, 50% of retail price or higher...so for him...it was cheaper to buy a round trip fare, take a vacation, and purchase a MacBook in the US than it would have been for him to buy it in Brazil. How about that?! Fun Fact: over 6 million Brazilians visit the US each year and spend over 6 billion in the country. Guess what's vise versa...just 150,000 Americans visit Brazil annually, and over 75% of those visitors are in the country for business purposes only. I suspect that number will increase a little bit when the World Cup and Olympics come following.
While I had originally intended for my time home to be a complete break, I couldn't have been more happy to have hosted my Brazilian friend after all he and his family have done to make my time in Sao Paulo as comfortable as possible. Plus it was fun to introduce him to my family and allow for a healthy level of Engligh-Portuguese language confusion provide for some very humorous moments. I think his new favorite English phrase is...HOLY COW!
I was also able to do some deep reflection about my experience while I was back home. For me, it energized and motivated me to come back to Brazil even more so than if I would have stayed through the holidays. Too, I return feeling more confident in my Portuguese skills and much more cool, calm, and collected about my next semester. Sometimes you just need a break to get back at things 100%...and this case was no different. I was able to share my experiences with my classmates, University, advisers, friends, family, and employers. I was able to get a hold of a few more opportunities for my future and most excitingly, was able to put together an impressive presentation about all the things I've learned and got to deliver it to over 100 people in an auditorium-like setting that struck a chord with all who watched.
Nevertheless, the time passed quickly and I made it back to Sao Paulo safely. I got unpacked and then made my way to the biggest and best show on earth.....BRAZILIAN CARNAVAL! As you can imagine, my next post will be well worth the wait!
Happy to be back and excited to share round 2 of this incredible adventure.