Monday, July 7, 2014

+/-

Some really good things come from Brasil:
- Buffet by kilo: for lunch, many people go to restaurants where you pay for your food by how much it weighs.  Why don't we have more of this?  As a vegetarian, I'm often frustrated when I have to pay more for lettuce than someone else does for steak.  When you pay by weight, you don't have that problem.  Plus, these buffets emphasize the cultural and health importance of eating a good meal for lunch.  All of Brasil pauses for lunch (unless of course you are serving it) and they eat a lot, so they eat very little for dinner.
- Cachaca: Cachaca is to Brasil what Jack Daniels is to Tennessee.  It is not just the primary ingredient in Brasil's national drink, the caipirinha, but also a part of their culture.  Every city makes its own kind of cachaca and it is a drink that Brasilians of all levels of the social hierarchy enjoy.  Some restaurants even give you free shots of it after lunch (though I will never figure out why samples of alcohol and coffee are free but not water).
- Hospitality: you will find the kindness of the people here shocking, especially if you come from a large city.  And I'm living in Santa Catarina, which is considered colder than the many other parts of Brasil.  Brasilians take you in like you are their own from the very beginning.  They make you feel at home and will always be willing to help.

And some not good things come from Brasil:
- Taxes: Brasil has the most heavily taxed population in the world when you factor in other taxes besides just income tax.  They have incredibly high tax rates on imported goods and on normal items such as clothing.  Although the food may seem cheap to me (and it's about the only thing that seems cheap here), it is definitely still expensive to Brasilians.  The worst part about all of the taxes is Brasilians pay them, but the money doesn't go back to them.
- Building a highway through the Amazon: I mean, really?  An unfinished project by Brasil's dictatorship, it left many dead, destroyed parts of the environment and indigenous communities, and is never used.

And some good and bad things about M-C:
- I am at the point where english is annoying.  I spent all of Saturday and Sunday and all of this morning in Portuguese land, so when I showed up to an english-speaking class I was slightly confused. So I resorted to my favorite pastime of translating everything back into portuguese in my head.  I am also reading Harry Potter in Portuguese and I may or may not want to spend my scholarship money to buy the complete set...I mean it helps me learn, right?
- As my parents would tell you, I am kind of a slug sometimes.  I mean I work hard and whatnot but I also like to just sit once in awhile.  I have been sitting too much the past few days, but that's because I'm doing homework, writing, preparing for IPP, and doing applications for fellowships and the like.  I also keep telling myself that if I get this done then I will do lots of fun things for my last weekend in Floripa.  :)
- Scheduling.  I like class not just because I get to speak Portuguese and learn about Brasil but because it means I have to be at a specific place at a specific time.  Needless to say, scheduling things is not always the way Brasil operates, except of course, for futebol.  I am trying to adapt to being less scheduled but also ensuring it doesn't make me more of a slug.
- So I find english (and many english-speakers) annoying, I'm sometimes a slug, but I'm a scheduled slug.  Take me or leave me, but I promise I'll return ready to work and speaking more portuguese than english.

P.S. - all of these +/- lists could of course be added to or changed, but they are just my views and you can judge them however you please.  Just know (as you already should) that I love Brasil :)

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