Experiment: bracing to brave Brazil for imminent improvised immersion
Okay, booked a plane ticket to Rio, for spending the coming 3 weeks in Brazil, with the intent of seeing if I can go from never having spoken a word of Portuguese to some (A1?) level of conversational fluency in that time-frame, with no preparation other than having made it three-quarters of the way through the EN-PT tree on duolingo (thanks duo!). So goodbye streak, and hello immersion. Good tips on Rio welcome!
If you can, try to find some time to visit Paraty, near Rio. It's a nice city, good to relax.
Espero que faça uma boa viagem!
Rio is a jet set playground with many places to visit and many deep contradictions like being the exaggerated symbol of Brazil while not being at all like other parts of Brazil. I would recommend getting out of the city at least once.
I recommend 5 days in Rio and traveling to other cities. I stayed at Pura Vida hostel last month in October and it was a 5 minute walk to Copacabana Beach and a pretty good value if you are open to hostels. They have a good breakfast that's included and a happy hour (that's only 30 minutes with a free caipirinha). Another recommendation is to try to visit the big sites that you want to see towards the beginning of your time there in case there are issues with the weather. Go to see Christ the Redeemer in the morning and on a weekday as it can get pretty hot and the weather can change quickly. If it's cloudy, it is difficult to see it. If you have to follow only one piece of my advice, it would be to go to Sugar Loaf Mountain just before sunset (it's half price if you have a student ID). You can look out and see the sun setting behind Christ the Redeemer statue and it is absolutely amazing. Also, the free walking tour of Lapa and downtown were pretty good: http://www.freewalkertours.com. Last but not least, you may already have done this but I'd rather be safe than sorry so that you can enjoy your trip, but did you get your Brazilian visa already? It needs to be done before you arrive in Brazil and can take a few weeks (mine took two). I hope the info is helpful!
See Christ the Redeemer towards the end of the day; its beautiful as the sun goes down! (and take the cable car there, people will tell you the vans are better, but they take much longer when there is traffic) Do you already have a hotel? I recommend Mar Palace Copacabana Hotel. I stayed there for 4 nights and really enjoyed it! Excellent, friendly service!
Thank for the info! No hotel yet, looking through airbnb listings at the moment. I'm doing this trip solo, so my standards for accommodation are pretty modest (bed, shower, tea kettle, internet, and public transport proximity). Did you get to practice your Portuguese in Copacabana, or did you decide to start on the language after having been there?
Wow congrats! Where are you staying (a hotel/a hostel/with a family/etc.)? And to be at level 13 and only be 2/3 of the way done with the tree, you've probably done a lot of strengthening skills and/or immersion, which should both be helpful in Brazil! Also I see that you live in Texas, which means you have the luxury of being able to take a direct flight to Brazil!
Still looking for room, just started. Thinking of booking only for a week, in case I want to move around a bit for the 2nd and 3rd week after exploring the city. I've done a bunch more strengthening for Portuguese than for any other tree so far, because I'd never spent any time of Portuguese before, so it is kind of a "how well can I do from scratch" experiment. About flights: yeah that helps! Short hop Austin to Houston, then straight overnight to GIG in Rio. Time to pack!
Congrats! Yes, Brazil is a great country and this is a good way to kickstart your language skills. As others have mentioned, plan a few side trips outside of Rio. Let me put in a plug for the little city of Petropolis. I may be biased because I have family there, but I love it. It is a bus ride away, and full of history, as the royal family vacationed there. But you should also go farther away if you can, as there is a lot to explore.
I hope you have a great time! I just came back from Rio and Iguassu Falls, loved Brasil!