What I Learned From My Trip To Brazil
First of all I just want to say that my observations are just based on my personal experience and should not be taken too seriously. I have limited experience and I know that Brazil is a big country and I was only in a small part of it for a short time. Please do not be offended if something I write differs from your experience of ideas.
With that said, I loved some aspects of Brazil while others broke my heart. I loved how much bluer the sky was then where I am from. I loved the palm trees everywhere. I loved the colorful and unusual birds I saw. I loved (most) of the food I ate. ; ) I loved the friendliness of the culture. I loved how complete strangers would greet me as if I was a friend. I especially loved how optimistic certain people were even though they lived in very difficult circumstances. I loved how sweet the kids were and how they played and tried to talk to me even though I knew very little Portuguese.
The thing that was most striking to me about Brazil was the natural beauty surrounding extreme poverty in some places. ( I know there are probably highly developed areas of Brazil too.) The violence and poverty (in the area I was in) broke my heart. So did the barefoot 6 year olds who should have been in school running in the streets unattended. The poverty, crime, lack of adequate and speedy medical care, and the political corruption which kept things from improving also broke my heart. But it made me appreciate several of my country's benefits.
I used to be highly scornful and critical of my country's government, but I am now thankful for my government. (Especially law enforcement that is pretty trustworthy.) I am also now incredibly grateful for our advanced medical care here. People in Brazil have lost their lives because they couldn't pay for medicine, couldn't read the doctor's note, or was given faulty medical advice by a doctor. I am never going to take these things for granted again.
On a lighter note, ; ) there were some things that were very different from what I was used too. The heat and humidity were worse than what I was used too but not unbearable. In the city there were a lot of motorcycle taxis which I am pretty sure would not be allowed in a lot of other countries. There were also a lot more motorcycles and overcrowded buses than I had ever seen before. There were also A LOT more bugs! I got a ridiculous amount of bug bites, even with 5 layers of bug spray and bug repellent bracelets. The fire ants were not much fun either. : (
Food wise I was surprised by the locals way of eating avocados. (Which are absolutely ENORMOUS!) They mix the avocados with a bunch of sugar. I loved pastels, which are meat and cheese pastries. The pineapple was amazing too. And I really like acai ice cream! I was rather disappointed by Brazilian pizza though. But I did try several fruit juices that were really tasty.
Anyway I hope you guys learned something from this probably-annoyingly-long-post. ; ) Please comment below about your experience in a foreign country or a country you would like to visit some day.
how long did you stay?
What states / cities have you visited?
How was your immersion and how difficult was it for you to listen to native speakers, dialects and to speak the language?
Do you have any intermediate / advance level in Spanish which might have helped you a bit to speak Portuguese (e.g express your ideas, ask questions, etc.)?
I stayed for about 2 weeks and was in the State of Para the entire time. I visited Belem and Benevides, and a few other cities I forgot the names of. It was pretty hard to understand the native speakers, everyone spoke really fast! I wish I had had more time to study Portuguese. I knew a good bit of Spanish but it did not help me much with Portuguese. I was able to understand some more of the nouns but other than that it just confused me. I had been studying Spanish much longer than Portuguese though.
Hi,thank you for a very interesting and well written essay.. However-as you admitted-spending only 2 weeks in a country and in only fraction of it realy does not allow you to see the full picture.. In a country like Brasil (or any ) it would take you at least few months to get some ideas of what life there is like..plus you would have to understand the language first..at least on basic level..
Nevertheless a great post that you wrote, I enjoyed very much so..
I know that I had very limited experience there, and I never claimed to see the full picture of anything. : ) I know I am not an expert. I was able to notice some differences from where I am from and I wanted to share the little I'd learned with some of the people here who had asked me too write about it. I am glad you enjoyed it!
I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic in June, and it was very eye-opening. I learned some things that I never would have known, such as how they produce a lot of rum (I took a tour through a rum factory) or that the DR had really good chocolate. It was also pretty heartbreaking to see poverty and little barefooted kids on the streets.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Since you asked for comment may I share with you this, a personal one also, from having spent some short/long time in various countries and areas:
People of our small Earth are intrinsically similar.
Places like you mentioned were wealthily self sufficient with abundant food, shelter as suits the climate, and amazing culture.
Some of us have taken too much from others, used force -violent or insidious, or done deals with some of their elites and rulers, or set up hugely unfair trading, unfair money value since gold standard, and systems that have favoured the upper strata more and more, and then trained own tribe to feel superior. Viewing from one of the resulting upper strata 'down to the mess below' is like viewing from a palace, paid by peasant taxes, and saying oh why are these 'low-born/third-rate/dumb/poor' creatures behaving so badly.
Yes, each town, say, has it's own strata, classes, dog-eat-dog. But when you make a town poorer and poorer, their strata worsen, poverty worsens, and violence worsens (not meaning 'by' the poor but also 'to' the poor).
I love Brazil, the UK, Vanuatu, etc. etc. etc. I sorrow how the first/traditional owners of lands across the globe, and the 'not one of us' among us, were and are still ill treated. I share the view of Carl Sagan's looking at the pale blue dot (and what the inhabitants did and still do).
There, my good heart. I hope language learning and this forum can help our world. :-)
I often thought of traveling to Brazil. Thanks for sharing your trip as I think that may be the only trip I make to Brazil.
Closest I ever got was Costa Rica and Bonaire. My Spanish returned a little when touring Costa Rica. Bonaire was a short trip and I spoke mainly fish language as I concentrated on checking out their double reef system. I heard about the Papiamentu language that is spoken in the ABC islands and is comprised of many languages.
And seeing what language I am studying one can easily guess where I am headed to this year. I'll be traveling and living with native speakers, from Saigon to Hanoi and places in between.
It's a cliche, alright, but travel is probably one of the most life-changing things someone can do.
I was in Japan for a whole month back in July, and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I've been learning Japanese for about 2.5 years by then, so I was so excited to be there, use what I had learned, and learn more about the language and culture. I don't think it was as concrete as what you wrote, but it was honestly life-changing. Despite having consumed vast quantities of media about Japan and its culture, from culture notes in my textbook to vlogs/videos made by foreigners living in Japan, being there and interacting with Japanese society just gave me a better intuitive understanding of the culture. A whole bunch of things, big and small, just came together to make it unforgettable. It was the food, the people, the public transportation, the shrines and temples, the architecture both modern and ancient, the chance to use the Japanese I learned, the Japanese classes I took while I was there, the opportunities I had to explore, the bathing culture (hot springs/public baths), the traditional inns (ryokan), the beautiful nature, the remnants of history, the stores, the aura/atmosphere I felt just being there... it all just made the entire experience life changing.
One of my favorite memories isn't about shopping or eating or anything like that, but just kinda being there in the moment. It was a warm, humid summer night. A couple of friends and I were in Ikebukuro, one of the big shopping/entertainment districts in Tokyo. We were walking back to the station to go back to where we were staying. We were talking and laughing, and I was busy taking in my surroundings. I was looking at all the buildings, signs, advertisements, the bright lights, and the people. Being surrounded by Japanese signage and hearing Japanese being spoken around me, I felt something indescribable. Being from New York, I was no stranger to city centers filled with upmarket stores, ads, people, and bright lights, but that night and that place was somehow special. Just being there with friends in Ikebukuro, being in Japan, immersed in the language and culture... this might sound cliche, but I can honestly say that Tokyo, and Japan as a whole, has stolen my heart. This feeling is something I've sorely missed since I returned home, and I just can't wait for my chance to go back there.
Overall this is a great post, but some things you say about Brazil need to be corrected, unfortunately. [Don't take it personally, you've been in the country for only 2 weeks and there are many things you don't know.]
Many people in Brazil lose there lives because they can't pay for medicine,
This needs to be qualified. As a blanket statement, it's false.
There is a public health system in Brazil that is free for everyone (taxpayer-funded). Sure, it's a flawed system. The waiting lists for consultations and exams are often long, there is a lack of doctors in small towns, and doctors are often underpaid. Everyone who can afford it will buy private health insurance. The private system is unarguably better.
But you can't say that many people die because they can't pay for medicine. There is free medicine, despite its flaws (and people sometimes exaggerate these flaws for political posturing).
can't read the doctors note,
This is not true. Poor people in Brazil generally can read and write. Sometimes only to a very low level, but they can.
What exists in Brazil is called residual illiteracy. This is mostly older people who live in rural areas or very small towns, who did not learn to read when they were young, and are unable or unwilling to do it now.
The younger generations all learn to read and write. Primary school is universal in Brazil now, meaning that nearly every school-age child is in school. High school (or secondary school) is not yet universal, but slowly getting there.
or get faulty medical advice, (from doctors).
Edit: Removed rude comment. Let's just say you are speaking from inexperience.
I am very sorry if I offended anyone, and you are right, I phrased some things badly. I apologize. But I do know of Brazilian people who have been in all those situations. I met children whose father had died of a fever when he was not given medicine because he could not pay for it. I don't know how irregular that may or may not be but I do know it happened. I also know of a young woman and baby who needed a special shot because of differing blood types. The doctor wrote a note with that information on it and gave it to her. She went home but since neither she nor anyone in her family could read both the young woman and the baby died. Again, I do not know how rare this is but I do know it happened. In the community I visited there were a lot of children living of the streets who did not go to school. I was in a very poor area of Brazil, we may have visited different parts which would explain the misunderstandings. What part of Brazil were you in? (I will edit my posts to clear up any further confusion, sorry about the mistakes, I wrote it in a rush. ; )