SUMIKO NEARY | SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL | POST 3
Featured image: Me and my friends in front of one of the many murals at the artful Vila Madalena neighborhood. São Paulo has such incredible street art, and this is just some of it!
Hello from Brazil!
I’m currently at the bus station waiting for the bus that will take me and my friends to Rio for the Easter weekend, which is a 4-day weekend here! (Our Brazilian program coordinator brought chocolates for us all today! Isn’t she the sweetest?!) All 10 million people of São Paulo seem to be travelling this weekend, so it’s really crowded and chaotic. This is only tolerable because it slightly reminds me of New York (my home) in some ways. While the rural stay components of my program have been a favorite (we have a rural stay in each country), I find some comfort in navigating busy metro systems.
We have been in Brazil, the last country of our journey, for around two weeks now. I’m not sure if it’s the late dinners, the packed days, or generally being burnt out, but I am so tired… all the time! Which is unfortunate. We don’t even really have much homework, but having to be out of the house from 8 am-6pm every day for class, plus commuting hours, is truly a lot.
Fortunately, I’m really enjoying SP! I think it may actually be my favorite of the three (Delhi, Cape Town, and São Paulo)! I particularly appreciate that there’s a sizable Japanese community here, because even if I can’t understand Portuguese, I can understand the Japanese I occasionally hear on the streets. Also, the fruit here is beyond amazing! To have really fresh mango, passion fruit, pineapple, and more as casual everyday snacks is something I could get used to.
It’s actually taken me a bit of time to adjust to being here. In South Africa, our classrooms and fellow students all lived within walking distance, and we only needed to commute/not walk when we were going to the beach or going on a hike. It was so nice for all of us to walk to class or go home together. São Paulo is significantly larger than Cape Town, which means we have to take the metro or bus everywhere… which also means more planning ahead, less spontaneity, and less time to do things in general!
Plus, I have come to love living around everyone, so being so far from people makes me kinda sad. Even though all 30 of us aren’t all super duper best friends with each other (is that even possible? Unclear), it’s really easy to have a good time with any combination of people in the program. We have shared so many funny, meaningful, and stressful moments together at this point that we can laugh about some of our moments. Our program director taught me the term “Type Two funny,” which is when something is not funny in the moment but is funny as a memory, and we’ve had quite a few Type Two funny moments. My most memorable Type Two funny moment was having the worst of my swine flu symptoms (I was diagnosed later that week) on an 8 hour bus ride without any tissues.
There’s so much to do in São Paulo, and I feel like we don’t have nearly enough time to do any of it! Our first weekend here was rainy, this weekend we are away, next weekend we are in our rural stay, and so our only free weekend is our last one! I considered staying in SP this weekend to have more time here, but I stand by my choice to go to Rio. I loved the mountains and the beaches in Cape Town, so I’m excited to be around that kind of environment again, even if it’s only for a weekend! I’m looking forward to it!