About Me

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Não, vai ter copa!!

Olá  minha gente,

Sorry for being so absent lately, I've been busy doing nothing :P. 

Anyway, Copa is fast approaching!! To be honest, I'm very nervous about what's going to happen. I know that half the infrasturcture promised is either unfinished and/or incomplete (so thats kind of a problem…), but to be honest, I'm more secured in terms of how the events will actually turn out. I'm afraid about violence against tourists, or violence that might occur because of disagreements between police and protesting Brazilians. I'm even worried about the potential attacks that drug gangs could pull (especially in Rio and São Paulo.) 



I'm cautiously optimistic, but in reality I can't help but think that this World Cup is going to make Brazil have an even worse reputation than she already has. The American and British media has already been out for blood regarding Brazil and it's capabilities for years, but now I think the situation is about to get much worse. I think, unfortunately, Brazil's reputation is about to go from bad to terrible. Its a shame that a wonderful country like Brazil has to be governed by such stupid people who can't get anything together. The place is marvelous and deserves a worthy government that can make it the place it's dying to be…a world class country!! 

What do you think? 

Abraços! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back, and Lost !

Olá Galera! 

Well, after a little bump in the road (ahem, wanting to shut down the blog....), I’m back and blogging much to the chagrin of the ‘‘recalcados!’’ I’m here to stay! :) 

Anyway, this week we went back to school after Spring Break, which was quite extended this year. At my school we usually get a a four-day weekend for Spring Break but this year I had a full school week off, plus two weekends, so I was away from school for a full nine days! I did absolutely nothing, I went home and stayed in my house the whole time except for leaving it a grand total of three times to go eat out a few times. I guess I had nothing better to do though, my friends from back home weren’t around and the weather was terrible (as usual.) 

When I came back to school I was pleased by the arrival of another shit load of Ciência sem Fronteiras students. In total, there are now about 50 Brazilians attending my school. For a school with 60,000 students, 50 doesn’t seem like a lot. But for some reason wherever I go I ONLY SEE BRAZILIANS. My Brazil-dar is extremely fine tuned as of now and I can immediately tell who is Brazilian just by looking at them. It’s not how they look that lets me know they’re Brazilian either. I’m almost sure it has something to do with the Brazilian eyes. Not physically how the eye looks, but it’s the ‘‘olhar’’ that definitely is the marking component. I walked past a table of Brazilians at the dining hall who I hadn’t met previously (as they just arrived) but I knew they were Brazilian immediately, and they obviously picked up on something off of me considering they all stared me down until I reached my table, meu jeito brasileiro gave me away Hahahahaah :P. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? 

I’ve only met a few out of the group, but so far this group seems a little more ‘‘chato’’ unfortunately. One of the new mineiros made a comment that really rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ll give him a second chance. Other than him, the rest seem very ‘‘timidos.’’ Like they’re afraid or something....maybe it’s the subzero temperatures freezing them alive/consuming all their energy? Who knows... 

As for academics, it’s in shambles. I mean, totally horrible. I have no drive anymore. I don’t know whats up with me because I feel like I just don’t care about school anymore. Not an ounce. I tell myself I need to study, I force myself to do so, but the information never sticks. I’m having a hard time actually getting myself to class (is it the weather that makes me not want to go, as I normally have to walk miles a day in subzero temperatures? Or am I just lazy?), I’m not doing all of my work and I’m afraid that I’m gonna flunk some classes. The weird part is that I technically care about getting good grades, but my organizational skills (or lack there of) are preventing me from actually doing something about it. I’m already going to be graduating late, but now I’m just worried about actually getting to graduate at all. 

I think it has to do with a few things outside of school. I know I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I have a very high pressure family. My father is a very successful businessman who built everything he has and has provided for me and my family from nothing. He grew up extremely poor (we are talking Brazilian styled extremely poor, not America poor), he has an abusive alcoholic father, a schizophrenic sister, a mother who never protected him from his father, and dealt with crime (including the murder of one brother and extremely close second call with another brother that almost died after having his skull cracked when having the shit beaten out of him in front of his house) and death his whole life. He’s the only member of his family that is still alive. So considering where he came from, it’s amazing where he is now. 

But, because he came from such tough backgrounds, he had to have to a drive unlike anyone you’ve ever met in order to escape the situation alive, let alone doing extremely well for himself financially. I’m so proud of him, and honestly I don’t even really know how to put it all in perspective. 

The dark side of the success story is that he thinks the impossible is possible. He has higher expectations than any of you could possibly understand. I have to be perfect at everything that I do. There is no room for any funny business. So, he expects that I graduate at the top of my class, he has expected me to work in a corporate setting since  it was legal (I’ve worked in offices since I was 16 years old), I worked illegally before that under the table. Now due to the economy being still extremely shitty in the US, I’m having a really rough time finding an internship for this summer even though (not to brag) my resumé is better than most 40 year olds, and I have lots of office experience and experience with dealing with the public, as well as being totally bilingual and almost trilingual nowadays with my Spanish improving every day. I’ve been looking the whole school year (yep, since September!!) and no bites. No wonder unemployment is still so high for my age group. 

You can imagine how this infuriates my dad. I don’t have normal conversations with him anymore. He can’t stop talking about how I need to find an internship, blah blah blah. He doesn’t even ask me how my life is anymore. I feel like I was put on earth to serve my fathers need of me being perfect for him.

In result, this discourages me greatly. I feel like my future is going to be dictated by my Dad and what he wants me to do. I still have not made many decisions in my life, the only one I made (and thank god I was allowed to make it, although it was in jeopardy for a while) was the study abroad in Brazil. It’s not like he paid for it though....I did. 

So now I feel stuck. Im constantly worried about jobs, couple that with school and I think I burned myself out. Now I don’t really care about either and it’s just going to lead me down a path of failure. I don’t know how to get out of this apathetic state I’m in, because now everything is just so blue-tinted and bitter. I don’t like being this person. I want to change. I also want to quit school and build a fucking shack in a favela somewhere because at least nobody would expect that I create a billion dollar company by the time I’m 25. 


Abraços,
Alex  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why I'm done Blogging

Hey Guys,

I've decided I'm going to stop blogging. I always have something to say, but unfortunately most of the time I get a lot of hate comments (which I delete before any of you can see) and I'm kind of tired fighting the ridiculous vira-lata Brazilians who do nothing better than hate themselves and try to spread their hate of Brazil to everyone else.

It's really sad. It makes me want to give up on Brazil sometimes because I think ''How could there be so many of these people who try to make OTHERS miserable with their points of view, and want others to hate Brazil as much as they do?'' But, I'm not gonna give up. I'm just going to ignore the constant comments like..

Que vergonha nacional!
Que vergonha de ser brasileiro!
Só no Brasil mesmo!
Brasil é uma merda!
Brasil é foda!
Brasil é blábláblá pápápá…….

and all the other bullshit. It's tiresome to hear other expats complain about stupid things about how they don't like the milk in Brazil or how they can't stand the Brazilian chocolate. Just complaints about why Brazil sucks and absolutely no constructive criticism as how to make it better.

It's also tiresome dealing with protecting your love of Brazil, and being questioned as to why and how you could ever like Brazil by the rowdy vira-latas and whiny expats. It's tiresome having your every comment slashed and burned, being called a gringo who doesn't know anything, and how my opinion is not valid because I wasn't actually born in Brazil (mind you, I almost never say negative things….I say positive things about the place and I'm still virtually murdered.)

So, I'm done. No more blogging for me, at least for now and the foreseeable future. Maybe one day when I'm actually back in Brazil I'll write a post now and then, but I'll have to remind myself not to say positive things because I might get death threats. I'll keep the subjects to the already over written subjects of why Brazil is a horrible place, probably the most horrible country on the face of the earth, according to the vira-latas who are always right and don't know how to take other people's opinions.

It was a good run while it lasted, but I'm done dealing with explaining myself. My best to the vira-latas, hope you find an apartment in a  flop house somewhere in Germany or Newark so you can escape to the first world and work in a Brazilian restaurant there for the rest of your life, you will have escaped the slums and Brazil and will have made it big serving feijoada to other vira-latas in the post-industrial suburbs of the Northeastern USA and outskirts of perfect European villages. Primeiro mundo!

Beijos, Abraços, Fiquem com Deus
Alex

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

School, and other concerns :/

Oi Gente!

So, I'm in the second semester of my ''Senior'' year here at my university. Normally, people graduate after 8 semesters at a College. Well, unfortunately for me, I'm having a little bit (ok, a lot) of bureaucratic trouble and red tape to deal with, mainly having to do with my transfer here after freshman year, as well as the fact that my school screwed me and changed the general education requirements needed for a degree not long ago (of which I was blissfully unaware of until about a week ago). This means, that effectively, I have about one more full year here…meaning I have this semester to deal with, along with two others in the not-too-distant future.

Main issue now is that my classes are really hard. And I'm super unmotivated, have literally no interest in ''Cognitive Psychology'' and sometimes wish I never went to college. I know everyone always talks about he light a the end of the tunnel, but right now I'm not seeing any of that. I'm gonna be a SUPER senior, I've got a ton of super hard classes, parents who are pressuring me to finish as quickly as possible, dwindling savings, and pretty much am dying to get back to Brazil as soon as possible.

I'm trying to get internships lined up for the summer to improve my resume (which by the way is pretty good…not bragging or anything :P) because my GPA isn't really showing the ''real'' me, if you know what I mean.

This brings me to another point. How the hell am I going to find work in Brazil? I've already been scouring the University Placement office trying to find some sort of Brazilian connection, but I'm not finding it anywhere. How did you guys, those who are foreign but living in Brazil, find work? Can you give a few tips?

In the meantime, I'll be playing russian roulette while trying to procrastinate studying, pondering dropping out of school, and running away to Brazil for good.

Beijos
Alex

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cultural Unity: Brazil vs. USA

Hey everyone!

After thinking I had nothing to blog about anymore earlier today, I stumbled across an interesting discussion on an online forum, and thought it would be interesting to talk about the subject here on the blog.

The main original question was "Does Brazil have anything that really unites it culturally?" Well, off the top of your heads, you would probably scream ''HELL YES!'' picturing samba, churrasco, carnaval, football (soccer) and all the things you typically associate with Brazil.

How about for the United States? There are a few things that I would associate with the US, including American sports (Football and Baseball), but other than that the other things seem much weaker in comparison to Brazilian counterparts. At a quick glance, the United State's cultural identity is much more fabricated in a false sense of something that doesn't really exist than Brazil's. But this isn't to say that Brazilian cultural identity doesn't have it's problems, faults, and issues---cause it does. Vamos lá.

Brazil is a beautiful woman who hates herself. The Vira-Lata complex constantly jeopardizes Brazil and Brazilians and their culture. Let me just give you some examples of what I'm talking about:

When I was in São Paulo, I would often express my love for Samba music, Bossa Nova and other musical styles that have roots in Rio de Janeiro. The majority of middle class people would immediately ask me if I was insane, what was wrong with me, and how I could ever like something that was so ''brega'', or ''coisa de pobre/do morro.'' I would stir up the pot some more and even say that I enjoy watching Samba dance and actually like carnaval. And I love Seu Jorge's music. This left them dumbfounded.



Look, I get that these people weren't from Rio. They were from São Paulo. But just because you're from São Paulo doesn't mean you're better than someone from Rio and doesn't mean you have to instantly hate anything that comes from Rio. It seems that most people who are not from Rio will tell you that they hate samba, that they hate carnaval, that they hate anything that is even somewhat stereotypically Brazilian. But why? Sometimes I feel like Brazilians are trying to prove that they are European and will abandon anything that has non-100% european roots. At the end of the day, this is hopelessly vira-lata-esque behavior. It affects huge population swaths of the country.

Even though Samba may not represent every single Brazilian, it still is part of the cultural identity of Brazil. Unfortunately, I've met many people who were willing to try to change my opinion on the subject (which really isn't going to happen), and try to convince me that Italian opera or Lasagna is just as Brazilian as Samba or Churrasco. See what I'm saying? It just seems self loathing.

On the other hand, American culture hasn't really created enough for it to be able to even deny itself. The United States doesn't really have any kind of music that is SPECIFICALLY from the US (maybe blues could be considered one, but even that's pushing it), there are hardly any foods that are truly American (Apple Pie might be the only one), there are no unique dances that originated in the country….and the list goes on. The United States never constructed it's own culture, but rather took other country's foods and musics without really blending them to create something unique. That's why, to me, the idea of what it means to be ''An American'' is so abstract, and really has no definition. It's much less defined than what it means to ''Be a Brazilian.'' Even though what it means to ''Be Brazilian'' may come out of stereotypes (Like being good at futebol, dancing samba, jeitinho, light hearted/good spirited, multiracial e blábláblá), I do see more uniting qualities amongst most Brazilians than I see amongst Americans. Sometimes I feel like American culture is extremely fortressed, with little groups doing their own thing without really contributing to the greater culture that everyone falls under. In Brazil, it's the opposite.



So, what do you all think? Who has a stronger cultural identity? What does it mean to be Brazilian, and what does it mean to be American?

Abraços,
Alex

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rio vs SP: Which is safer?

Amongst the expat community, there is somewhat of a fixation on crime and issues related to it in Brazil. Sometimes (most of the time) I think many people exaggerate the levels of crime in Brazil, although the truth is that you have to know where you are (especially in big cities) because some neighborhoods can truly be very dangerous.

I would like to talk a little bit about the ''sensação de segurança'', or sensation of safety in Brazilian cities. I know São Paulo quite well as I lived there, as well as Rio where I have spent more than a month navigating large areas of the city. I can also speak for Campo Grande and Florianópolis, and will tell you that those cities are perfectly safe and you should have no worries there. They are fine!

However Rio and São Paulo truly have their issues, although like I earlier said, most of the time they are extremely sensationalized and very exaggerated. Let me first tell you that you're not likely to get into problems in Brazil unless you start messing around with the drug trade. If you stay with that, you should not expect to live very long. But I digress.

In São Paulo it's really a mixed bag. Technically São Paulo has a lower murder rate than Rio (and it's currently around half of what Rio has), but I think the nature of crime in São Paulo tends to be a little more random and kind of scarier than in Rio. Unfortunately, São Paulo is gigantic because of this it makes it easier for criminals to get around and get away than in Rio, where you're kind of bound into a much smaller area. São Paulo tends to deal with a lot more ''arrastões'' than Rio (Arrastão is when groups of criminals sort of do mass-robberies, sometimes in restaurants.) I've never heard of an arrastão in a restaurant in Rio, while in São Paulo they are not unheard of and happen more often than I would like.

Also, São Paulo has many very busy areas but also has many dead areas. For example, I went to school in Perdizes, which is a middle class neighborhood in São Paulo. I had class very often until around 11:15 PM, and the neighborhood was completely closed for the night when I had to walk a couple blocks and wait for the bus. Sometimes it was a little creepy, knowing that there was almost nobody else around. I was a perfect target for a robbery, but thank god nothing actually even close to being shady ever happened to me.

Rio is naturally more full of people. It seems like there are ALWAYS people out in Rio, sort of like New York. Even more people, actually. Because of this I always felt safe walking around Rio at any time of the day or night. It just 'felt' safer, not necessarily because it was though. I do have a feeling that Zona Sul and Zona Oeste are actually safe, and statistics from the hellish areas of Zona Norte drag the rest of Rio down with it.

So, in your experience, where do you feel safer? São Paulo or Rio?

Abraços
Alex

Monday, January 20, 2014

My São Paulo vs. Rio Wars

Oi Galera,

Long time no talk! I've been on break for what seems like months, and today is my last day. I go back to school tonight, I'm looking forward to getting back onto a schedule. I'm looking forward to seeing my friends, and also meeting the new group of Ciências sem Fronteiras students who are apparently arriving this week. Yay!

Anyway, I know I've brought this subject up before…but it's still something on my mind. If I had the choice to pick between Rio and São Paulo as the city I'll return to and live in Brazil…which one would it be?

Even though Rio and São Paulo are the largest cities in Brazil and are also the closest large cities to each other in Brazil, they are really really different from each other. São Paulo is colossal, super diverse and has everything you could ever want. Rio is still big (12 million people, yo) but noticeably smaller. It has a stronger identity than São Paulo. I always say, you KNOW you are in Rio/Brazil when you are in Rio, while in São Paulo one may have absolutely no clue where they were if they were blindfolded and then dropped somewhere in São Paulo.

Which city fits me better? Hard to say. São Paulo, at this moment, has more to offer. Rio is catching up very quickly and in my opinion will debunk São Paulo within the next five to ten years in terms of what it offers. Rio is more beautiful than São Paulo. Rio is more dangerous than São Paulo. Cariocas are better looking than Paulistas (for the most part). São Paulo has a more intense nightlife. São Paulo has more opportunity than Rio. Rio is more expensive than São Paulo….the give and takes could go on forever.

But where would I be happier? I sincerely don't know. I love both cities for very different reasons. I honestly think Rio is more of a ''promised land'' for the future, as it's the place that's receiving the most investment in the entire world currently. The city is sort of reconstructing itself….although I'm sure we all know it will always maintain it's chaotic atmosphere. Rio seems much more caotic than São Paulo, strangely, especially because it has half the population of São Paulo.

The truth is that I think I'd be happy living in São Paulo, but would always have the idea of living in a nice apartment along the Aterro do Flamengo in the back of my mind. Does this mean Rio is for me?

How about you? What do you think and where would you rather live? What are the trade-offs of both places?

Abraços
Alex