I feel like I’ve been transported back to high school, when I would wake up at 6:30 am and be out of the door by around 7:15am to catch the Metro bus to City Honors, my old alma mater. With my crazy sleeping schedule however, which is only worsened by the idleness that usually occupies my summers, waking up so early knowing that the next time I’ll be able to sleep will not be until well after 1pm does a huge number on my morale. Yet somehow, waking up to the prospect of five hours of straight, intensive, the verb-conjugating, agreement-making, context-clue-deciphering, madness of Portuguese language classes never ceases to fill me with an indescribable glee. Although my thoughts might wander, the slow blinks might start up again (hahha, this is an inside joke for some), and I have to forcibly restrain myself when my foot begins to tap in class as I frantically look at the clock on my cellphone, I know that deep down this is what I have always wanted.
Mentally, I was made for this but physically, I always seem to fall short.
The professors, however, are a breath of fresh air. There’s something about learning about a language by a native speaker of that language in that place where that language is actually spoken that is just incomparable. The way that they slide in cultural insight, humor, and, most importantly, practicality, into their lessons is incredible. Every day I am able to take something I’ve learn into class and put it into use. Geez, I wish that I had come sooner. I mean, let’s be realistic: how else would you possibly be able to comprehend the cultural implications of the usage and intonation of something as simple as the expressions pois é and pois não if you weren’t in Brazil itself? Sorry but White Gravenor and ICC have nothing on good old-fashioned immersion and to think otherwise would be…a mess.
Speaking of a mess…I had a monumental moment in my life yesterday. Its something that I had truly been dreaming about since I first began to watch animal documentaries (which was probably when I was five) and one of my lifelong wishes…
I finally went into the ocean.
Yes, I know that for you West Coast people (or even just people that travel in general) this may seem to be a pretty lame wish to entertain in your mind for 19 years, but for me, I had been longing to see if saltwater really tasted like salt. Needless, to say, I found out that the water is indeed salty, but it didn’t end there. No, there’s a whole new vocabulary that I had to pick up too in the matter of a few minutes. For example, I quickly learned what it meant for the waves to “break”, but only after I was veritably “broken” by them a few seconds after hearing my friend utter the words. According to her, I was a hot mess of tangled limbs and all that she could see was “water, arms, and legs.” The ocean is a wrathful thing, but rightfully so. Now I know to be more gentle in my approach because unlike the brasileiras, the ocean apparently does notlike to be hunted.
Overall, my first true beach experience was a success and shall go down as one of the most memorable experiences in my life. In addition to that, I had a great time soaking up some rays with my fellow international students and seeing if the myths about the Brazilian people were true. If ever there was place to see if Brazilians were the most beautiful people in the world, then it would most definitely be on the fine sands of Ipanema beach. Frankly, I did not and have not seen any girl that would inspire me to write the “Garota de Ipanema” (perhaps my expectations are too high!), but a few have motivated me to write this: I have not seen anyone as of yet that would ever walk the runways of the Victoria’s Secret Annual Fashion Show, but–and this is extended to the men as well–I have a seen a lot of people that would have the confidence to do it, and that’s something that’s undeniably beautiful. Just look at the man behind me in the picture below.
Without a doubt, I will be returning to the beach again sometime in the near future but it’s not something I can do everyday. The water live you feeling sticky and, well, salty, and if you’re me, then it leaves you looking like you’re straight out of the 80s. I might have to get a haircut if I’m going to be in this relationship with the ocean for the long run. I can only explain why it looks like I already got a haircut so many times before it loses its humor…
Well in any case, this is going to be a shorter post than usual, but I expect to come back soon with something more substantial. It’s already 1am and I still have to transcribe my short story featuring me, a dark forest, medicine, and Saci-Preferê (an icon from Brazilian folklore), onto notebook paper before heading off to bed.