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Study Abroad: Bailey Fairchild Blogs from Brazil

Jun 7 2015 7:00 PM
Study Abroad: Bailey Fairchild Blogs from Brazil
About Bailey:
 
Bailey Fairchild is a junior management major from Lincoln, Nebraska, who left for Brazil on Wednesday, May 13, on one of six study abroad experiences offered through the UNL College of Business Administration. Students will spend three weeks exploring southern Brazil while experiencing the cultural and business aspects of the country. They will also visit two local universities – Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS). Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, is one of the faculty advisors for the trip. Brazil Study Abroad webpage

Homebound - 6/7/15

Saying goodbye to Brazil
Saying goodbye to Brazil
My Brazil trip has now come to an end. The flights back to America seemed to go faster than the journey to Brazil. We began by leaving our last hotel near Florianopolis at 4 a.m. to catch our first flight to Rio de Janeiro. There we had a 12-hour layover, but that ended up being great because we got to see some of the city and break up our three flights home.

During our layover, we took four taxis from the Rio de Janeiro airport to Sugarloaf Mountain, about 45 minutes away. We rode in a huge cable car to the top of Urca's Mountain, then a second cable car up higher to the top of Sugarloaf. There were amazing views of Rio de Janeiro and the ocean from the top of both mountains.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
We also went to Copacabana beach in Rio! Though we didn’t get in the water or even the sand, we walked along the famous geometric black and white sidewalk, Copacabana Promenade. The beach wasn’t very populated this time of the year, but still had a few very tan people there. It was quite obvious that we were American tourists because we were all pale.

The long overnight flight from Rio to Houston went much better for me than the last time we made the journey. I had an aisle seat and we all were used to less personal space, so I could actually curl my body sideways to be more comfortable. That is one time when I am glad I’m short.

We arrived in Houston at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Getting through security and customs went much faster than I expected. I’ve heard stories about it being long and a pain, but it seemed to me that there were a lot of little steps that went fairly quickly. Many of us ate breakfast in the airport at McDonald’s and got Starbucks coffee while waiting for our final flight back to Omaha. You could say we missed stereotypically American food.

Homeward bound from Florianopolis airport
Homeward bound from Florianopolis airport
I didn’t realize how much I took language for granted. It was so nice to finally be surrounded by people speaking English in Houston. I could read the menus again and order my food without pronouncing everything wrong. I could even talk to someone or explain something without playing charades!

We were all excited to see our families and be back in Nebraska when we got off the plane at Omaha. After picking up our luggage we said our goodbyes to each other and went our separate ways after being together all day every day for the past three weeks.

The first thing I did when I got home was take a shower in my own shower and put on clothes that were hanging in my own closet in my own bedroom. It was wonderful to be back home. I unpacked and told my immediate family about Brazil after giving them all big hugs. I even went to bed early to get some sleep before falling back into my summer work routine the next day.

I know for sure that I will never forget my experience in Brazil. As a result of the trip, I am now more independent and confident in myself. I also enjoy reading English menus and trying new things instead of always ordering “my regular.” I am working on forming closer relationships with new coworkers sooner and trying to make them feel welcome like they do in Brazil. I appreciate having wifi and 4G almost all the time here in America, though I now realize that I am okay to go a long time without being constantly connected to my phone. My bed at home feels ten times comfier just knowing that it’s mine and will be there every night to sleep in. Finally, I cannot wait to eat chicken strips tonight with American ketchup that doesn’t taste like strawberry jelly.

I can’t express how glad I am to have made the decision to study abroad in Brazil. Before last fall, I had never even considered leaving the country with a bunch of strangers and leaving behind everything I know for multiple weeks. Studying abroad stretches you as a person and gives you many unique experiences that you’ll never forget. If you’re thinking about studying abroad at all, you should go for it; I promise it’s worth it.

Finish Strong with Relaxation - 6/3/15

Riding horses in Brazil
Riding horses in Brazil
The last two days in Brazil were quite relaxing. Both Monday and Tuesday were almost entirely free-time, except for some reflection and feedback time as a whole group. We all gave suggestions to make the program better for the next trip by explaining what parts of the trip we liked and what parts we would change.

During my Monday free time at Hotel Fazzenda I did many of the free activities. I rode a horse in a small group of people and two employees around a pasture in the mountains; it was beautiful. I also rode in a horse drawn carriage around one of the lakes. Some of us learned how to paddleboard. We stood on a surfboard type of thing and used a paddle to propel ourselves through the water. I was glad that it came naturally to me. No one fell in the lake! Some people played a lot of sand volleyball, including Rob and Allison, the adults on the trip.

I also spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool. It was very sunny on Monday, so a few of us got a little burnt in places. Laying out by the pool felt like a much needed vacation from our busyness the week before. Right around lunch the hotel even provided free drinks and snacks at the pool bar, which was fabulous.

Relaxing on the beach
Relaxing on the beach
On Tuesday we left Hotel Fazzenda for our final beach town, Canasvieiras, where we did more tanning during the sunny noon hour. A few of us bought sandwich supplies at a local convenience store to prepare and eat on the beach. Canasvieiras wasn’t very populated, but had a nice view of the ocean and a street with some shops. Of course it wasn’t until the very last day of vacation that I got a pedicure at a beauty salon with a couple other girls on the trip. It was way cheaper than a pedicure in the United States too; it only cost about $7.

We have to leave the Tropicanas hotel in Canasvieiras at 4 a.m. on Wednesday to get to the Florianopolis airport for our early flight to Rio de Janeiro, where we’ll have a twelve-hour layover before leaving for Houston. We’re planning on going to Sugarloaf and Copacabana beach in the afternoon, so it shouldn’t be too bad of a layover.

I think we’re all getting excited to be back in America and see our friends, family and English speaking people. It has been a fantastic three weeks, but I’m ready for American food and my home.

Variety for Our Last Weekend - 6/1/15
 

Bailey Fairchild on the beach
Bailey Fairchild on the beach
The weekend’s activities had a lot of variety for staying in two places an hour away from each other. I went running early Saturday morning on the beach in Balneário Camboriú, which was fantastic. I wish I could go running on a beach more often, though that is quite difficult in Nebraska. The atmosphere was beautiful with the skyline, sand and ocean, and the temperature was cool enough to run and not become too hot or stay too cold.    

Most of us got a lot of exercise Saturday during the day by walking around town looking at the shops. Balneário Camboriú had plenty of stores and hidden malls tucked away amongst the plethora of hotels. Havaianas flip-flops are very popular along the coast and typically cost nine American dollars, so naturally I ended up buying two pairs.
    
As an ice cream addict, I had to get my fill while we were walking around in an area that sells ice cream. The flavors of ice cream and shakes are different in Brazil compared to the United States, like lime, corn and doce de leite. I got a kiwi shake in the afternoon and a twist waffle cone after dinner.

While the sun was out in the morning and early afternoon, many of us went to the beach to tan and swim in the ocean. The water wasn’t too chilly but we didn’t stay in it more than half an hour. The waves were fun and kept us entertained whether we were in the water or watching them from a towel on the sand.

Gondola ride in Brazil
Gondola ride in Brazil
The next day we saw the coast from a distance out on a pirate ship. Two pirates hosted us and other families or tourists on their pirate ship to sail out along the Balneário Camboriú beach. The pirates had a sword fight over who got to love a woman studying abroad with me, accidently “stabbing” an audience member in the process. The voyage had a beautiful view along with interactive entertainment.

We also visited Parquet Unipraias where we rode in a gondola to a small adventure area. Many of us went ziplining there on one of the “adventures!” The zipline wasn’t very long, but was still nerve wracking the minute before we flew down the mountain. On the zipline and in the gondola we had an amazing view.

Next we moved to a new hotel in a different area an hour and a half inland of Balneário Camboriú. Hotel Fazzenda is in the middle of nowhere, right past a town called Gasper. This hotel is more like an all-inclusive resort with horses, pools, sports and five meals a day. I spent time in the pool and hot tub, both of which were warm and relaxing, though not the same as a beach.

We’ll spend two nights in this hotel before moving closer to the airport we’re flying out of in Florianopolis early Wednesday morning. Hopefully on Tuesday in Florianopolis we’ll get to spend some time on a beach in the sun.


Cloudy with a Chance of Beaches - 5/31/15

Husker Beach
Husker Beach
Wednesday morning we left the Adagio hotel in Porto Alegre for Torres, a small beach town a few hours north. The weather had been amazing the whole trip until Wednesday and Thursday. Those two days were very rainy, windy and cloudy - so much so the power went out both in our Porto Alegre hotel and the hotel we were planning on staying at in Torres. The Torres hotel didn’t have hot water when we arrived Wednesday night so they weren’t taking any guests. Luckily they owned a small apartment building across the street that had hot water, so they let us stay there instead. We only lost power a couple times for a few minutes.

Thursday morning we explored Torres and its beach, even though it was rainy, windy and cool outside. It was the second beach I had ever been to and the first outside of the United States! Two stray dogs followed us the entire way to the beach and back to our apartments, too. They were pretty friendly but barked at all the cars and ran directly in front of them whenever they passed. We didn’t stay outside or at the beach long and spent a lot of Thursday indoors.

On Friday we woke up before 6 a.m. to watch the sunrise from atop the cliffs by the ocean. It was less cloudy that day but we didn’t get a clear view of the sun. It was a beautiful sky and view of the ocean nonetheless. After eating breakfast we left for the next beach town, Balneário Camboriú. We drove for seven hours to get to Bombinhas beach, still an hour away from the hotel. Before going to the beach, I stopped at a nearby shop to buy a towel and flip-flops. As soon as I rounded the corner to the beach it started sprinkling, and when I got to the sand it down poured. It even hailed for a minute! I was determined to get in the water, so I ran out in the pouring rain an inch into the water, then turned around and ran back to the bus. We waited out the rain for 20 minutes.

Panoramic skyline of Brazilian beach
Panoramic skyline of Brazilian beach
As soon as the rain stopped, we left the bus and went back to the beach for the 45 minutes of sunlight we had left. There was even a double rainbow for us. I got pretty far out into the water but I’m not as tall as most people so others went farther. The water tasted like salt and I could taste it long after we left if I licked around my lips.

After dinner in hotel Vieira’s, some of us walked to the beach in that town. It was 9 p.m., but still pretty. It got me excited to visit the beach on Saturday! The rest of our trip will be mostly beach time which sounds relaxing. Hopefully the weather is wonderful!


The Last Days of Being “Unpacked” - 5/28/15

At the fútbol game
Croasonho Crew
Our last days in Porto Alegre were more people-focused. On Sunday we visited two types of churches, an Evangelical and a LDS church. The Evangelical church was much different from Evangelical churches in the United States. People were very passionate, the pastor was very loud and there was a lot of physical movement in the crowd during their “healing” service. A few people told brief stories of how they had been healed and others prayed for healing. The LDS church was family oriented, smaller and used a hymnal with that service’s song numbers posted on the wall. A few people took turns giving short messages on different topics.

After church, groups of two or three Americans went to different church families’ homes for lunch and the afternoon. I went to Isabel and Eduardo’s home with their three boys all under the age of four. The whole family was very nice and loved having company. Both parents spoke English well, as they had spent a few years in the U.S. We ate white rice, corn and pot roast with potato slices for lunch, along with some small chocolate candy bars for dessert; all of it was delicious. My mom has made all of those foods before, so it seemed very normal and cool that even in Brazil they eat the same meals we do clear across the globe in America.

At the fútbol game
Making cups from gourds
On Monday we went to a small home where a husband and wife make gourds into special cups that Brazilians commonly use to drink chimarrão, a very popular drink in southern Brazil. It is a drink where you fill a gourd-cup (cuia) half full along the side with green herbs (yerba), then fill the remaining half with hot water and drink the tea through a special metal straw (bombilla). It’s amazing how many people I’ve seen walking around with chimarrão on our visit; it’s everywhere!

We also visited Vila Jardim, an area similar to a slum. A block of rich houses was created with a square in the middle intended for a garden or clear space, but was filled in with many extremely poor people. Drug lords run the block and have the nice houses. Each vila has a medical clinic that takes care of the people. Cody, the leader of the trip, does research with a woman, Carmen, that works in the medical clinic at Vila Jardim, so we got to walk around the vila in groups. The people in the vila love their medical clinic people for taking care of them, so we were very safe as long as we were with the clinic people.

The vila was nothing like I had seen before. Narrow and steep alleys were crowded with small home areas. Glass shards or barbed wire topped many home areas and almost everything was gated, including windows. There were many dogs of all sizes both inside the gates and roaming the streets. We visited the daycare with many children younger than the school age inside. People did not appear to be in despair or misery; they were just living life. It’s hard to wrap my head around the vila and process it all when it’s so different from everything I know.

I ended my last night in Porto Alegre by getting dinner with my group of Brazilian students from UFGRS. Dakota, Ana, Laura, Carolina and I all went to a restaurant called Croasonho, where they have croissant sandwiches of savory and sweet flavors. It was delicious! We all bonded more and had a great time talking about being college students, norms in Brazil and America, and pop culture.

Wednesday morning we’re leaving Porto Alegre for a hotel in Torres, a couple hours North. In our last week in Brazil we’ll be in about four different hotels, so it’ll be interesting trying not to unpack very much to make moving around easier. We’ll go to many different beaches and watch the sun rise, so I’m very excited!

Halfway and Having Fun - 5/25/15

Bailey with waffles
Best waffles on earth!
People have felt much better so we have gotten mostly back on schedule with our planned activities, with one exception. Teachers went on strike the day before we were supposed to visit an elementary school, so we couldn’t go. But we have more free time, which is wonderful.

On Friday, we went out in Porto Alegre for a couple hours, found our own lunch and went shopping if we wanted. A friend and I found the best chocolate and pastry shop, Prawer Chocolates. A woman who spoke decent English who was likely the owner was there and helped us order. We got waffles with chocolate, strawberries and cream. She even went next door and bought us strawberries when we asked for strawberries on the waffles! She also suggested putting another waffle on top to make a sandwich, something they don’t usually do. Of course, we said yes. The food tasted absolutely amazing. I’m so glad we were able to try something new and unique.

We’ve gotten multiple shopping opportunities recently in a variety of places. We went to the Iguatemi Mall, an indoor mall with many stores that are quality and more expensive. We also visited a sketchy mall indoors near the middle of Porto Alegre only to buy cheap soccer jerseys for a Gremio game we were going to. At that shopping area, we split into small groups led by the adults, only looked at jersey places and didn’t carry our purses with us. A lot of safety tips were given and utilized about dealing with those who don’t have your best interest in mind such as walk with purpose, don’t take out more cash than you need and don’t draw attention.

A third type of place we shopped at was a street fair. It was similar to the Farmer’s Market in Lincoln’s Haymarket, but bigger with one long line and more hand made things. There we could bargain down prices and compare similar stores. We found gifts easily there. We also bought things at a local grocery store, Zaffari. It’s basically your average grocery store with a slightly different range of products. For example, they don’t really have granola bars, but they have more small cookie and cracker packages. All four types of shopping were unique and required different safety practices.

At the fútbol game
At the fútbol game
The whole group went to a fútbol game in a huge stadium built recently for the World Cup. One of the local teams, Gremio, played the Florianopolis team and won, 1 - 0. The stadium wasn’t very full, as neither team had won all their games. The section of dedicated fans was very enthusiastic and chanted the entire time, which made up for the small attendance of the game.

On Friday we presented projects we’ve been working on centered around the marketing aspect of the Tramontina Electric, a company we toured earlier in the trip. American students were paired with Brazilian students at UFGRS public college in groups of five to seven people. The presentations all went well and students from each country socialized and learned a lot from each other.

Overall the last few days have been awesome. We only have three days left in Porto Alegre, and we’re halfway through with our trip! It’s crazy how fast it’s going, though it feels like we’ve known each other forever now. We’ll all have to cherish each day and live one day at a time.

Learning in Factories and Universities Alike - 5/21/15

PUCRS
At the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul
We’ve now been in Porto Alegre for three days. The first day we toured a small shoe factory where they hand-make leather shoes and bags. The woman who designs the shoes showed us around and explained the whole process to us. We even got to look around the retail store down the street where some of us bought nice shoes. It’s nice that South America’s seasons are opposite, so all the summer heels were on sale, perfect for us American visitors.

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) private university generously hosted us from morning until dinner both Tuesday and Wednesday. While there, we attended various lectures presented by faculty at the university, as well as toured many buildings and the technology and science museum. The students and faculty at PUCRS speak English in some of their classes, so it was pretty easy to understand them all. We even took an hour to learn how to samba! It was very fun and sweaty.

Fun in Brazil
Fun in Brazil!
All of us students were very exhausted today. We’ve been busy, and the days get long because dinner isn’t usually until 8:30 or 9 p.m. We typically don't get back in the hotel until after 11 p.m. The hotel is one of the few places that wifi is available, so everyone usually wants to catch up with friends, family and some social media. We also journal about our time in Brazil, so bed time isn’t until late.

A few people actually got food poisoning, so we had fewer people make the trip to PUCRS on Wednesday. Around half of us are also sick or getting sick with some small cold as well, which is unfortunate. Honestly it’s not surprising that we’re sick, considering our close proximity all day, everyday. We’ll start getting better since we took it easy on Wednesday and are starting later on Thursday.

The hotel we’re staying in is very nice. The rooms have a washer and dryer, a mini kitchen with a stove-top and dishwasher, and a deck with a fireplace. It’s great even though we don’t get to spend much time in the room. We’ll be here for around five more days until moving to the next place!

Food, Swans and Bus-ride Naps - 5/18/15

Waterfall
Huskers in paradise
The past four nights (Thursday - Monday) We stayed in Kaster Hotel, a nice small hotel in Gramado, Thursday through Monday. The shower was lovely, with plenty of water pressure as well as a sliding all-glass door, which felt fantastic after long days of travel. The hotel also had a delicious breakfast bar filled with fruits, sandwich supplies and plenty of cakes. I did not expect so many cakes to be dessert flavors, multiple choices with chocolate in them!

While in Gramado and surrounding towns, we ate at multiple buffets. We also visited a winery, Sborneas, where the waiters continuously brought out small portions of various meats, wraps, rice mixtures and other foods. Just after we were stuffed, they brought out each of the 23 varieties of desserts which were fabulous. Another different type of restaurant we visited was a fondue place called Maison do la Fondue. We started the night with a cheese fondue with bread and potatoes. Next was a hot oil fondue to cook steak, chicken and pork before dipping it in a choice of around 15 types of sauces. The best fondue came last - a chocolate fondue to dip eight kinds of fruit in. We were all very stuffed to say the least.

We burned some of the calories from the wonderful food by hiking to Caverna dos Bugres near Santa Maria do Herval. There we saw a cave and a waterfall! Most of us went in the water and took plenty of pictures with a husker flag. Back in Gramado, we had some time to walk around the city and shop! There were a lot of tourist shops to look at. A beautiful cathedral was near the middle of the city where we went to mass on Sunday.

Swan races
Who let the swans out?
Later that day we went to Lago Negro to have a picnic and race swan paddleboats! That was fun, though some other Brazilians looked at us funny when some of us made a row of five aligned swans moving as one.

So far we've spent a lot of time on the bus going from place to place. It's cool to see different parts of Brazil and hillside views. Generally the ride is very bumpy, as Brazil's streets in the Gramado area aren't smooth, are narrow, steep, winding, and usually only two lane. A lot of times people will try to sleep on the bus, which is kind of amusing to watch. It's amazing what people can sleep through in unusual positions if they're tired enough!

Rodrigo and Ana, along with their one year old daughter, Mariela, have been acting as our Brazilian guides during our trip. Rodrigo drives the bus and Ana loves hanging out with us and helping us talk to those who speak Portuguese. Mariela is one of the cutest and happiest babies ever. The whole family is very nice and we're glad to have them along.

We packed up all of our things on Monday and are driving to Porto Alegre for the next segment of our trip. There we will stay 8 nights, so we have enough time to actually unpack most of our suitcases!

Two Full Days of Travel - 5/16/15

After nearly 36 hours of travel, we finally arrived at our hotel in Gramado. Our journey began at the Omaha airport on Wednesday, May 13, in the early afternoon. We took a tiny plane from Omaha to Houston where we had a decent layover before flying overnight to Rio de Janeiro. It was a nine-and-a-half hour flight but felt like 12 hours having crossed two time zones.

Sleeping on a plane when you're in the center of the center aisle is very difficult. I don't think many of us slept well at all. Landing and getting off that plane was my low point in the trip. My head really hurt from the turbulence during our descent, as well as a lack of sleep, food and water. I prayed a lot during those hours, because I knew I couldn't make I through alone. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we were ready to get where we were going.

Bailey at lunchtime
Brazilian culinary delights
I felt better after eating food and drinking water in the Rio airport during our five- hour layover Thursday morning. Our third and last flight from Rio de Janeiro to Porto Alegre was a little under two hours and was my favorite flight of the three. The plane had two rows of three, there were enough clouds to look beautiful but not obscure your vision the whole time and I slept without much issue. I love looking at clouds from the ground, but they're just as stunning, if not even more so, from above. My favorite time to look out the window is when everything looks toy sized. I think it's so neat to have an overhead view.

Once we landed in Porto Alegre, we met up with our Brazilian guides, Ana and Rodrigo, as well as the other faculty leader, Cody. We all took a crowded tram system to a Brazilian market 20 minutes away and walked around for a while to observe the culture. We also stopped for ice cream there!

Finally, we got on a bus and ate sandwiches, cookies, fruit and juice on the way to our hotel in Gramado. A lot of us slept on the bus even though the roads and drivers here are crazy as they fit in tight spaces, go fast and merge like crazy on the one-ways.

I am ready for a shower, a change of clothes and horizontal sleeping. We'll see what adventures tomorrow brings now that we're officially in Brazil!
 
T Minus 24 Hours - 5/13/15
 

It’s crazy to think that in less than 24 short hours I’ll be in Brazil. Yesterday was productive as I took care of a lot of little things that needed to be done before I could leave. I bought small Nebraska and Husker gifts for different Brazilian families we’ll be in contact with. I talked to the bank so my account won’t freeze while I’m trying to use it in Brazil. I now own a global electricity transformer so I can charge my electronics and blow-dry my hair. I even arranged for presents and cards to be delivered for a couple of birthdays I’ll miss! The only thing I have left to do is pack… which is probably the most important thing.  But I did make a list of things to pack two nights ago in order to procrastinate actually packing. Don’t worry, I’ll at least lay out all the things I need to pack the night before.
               
The idea of leaving the country, my family, my friends and my job for the next three weeks hasn’t sunk in yet. It doesn’t seem real and it probably won’t until I’m at the airport. I know they’ll all miss me, and I’m sure I’ll miss them, but I’ll be distracted by Brazil adventures. I’m definitely excited to go and experience something  completely different from anything I’ve done before. This will be my second time on a plane that I’m old enough to remember, so hopefully all goes well for the long 14 hour flight! I’m sure it will all go fine. That’s all for now, I need to make steps toward packing!

Study Abroad: Bailey Fairchild Blogs from Brazil

Jun 7 2015 7:00 PM
Study Abroad: Bailey Fairchild Blogs from Brazil
About Bailey:
 
Bailey Fairchild is a junior management major from Lincoln, Nebraska, who left for Brazil on Wednesday, May 13, on one of six study abroad experiences offered through the UNL College of Business Administration. Students will spend three weeks exploring southern Brazil while experiencing the cultural and business aspects of the country. They will also visit two local universities – Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS). Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, is one of the faculty advisors for the trip. Brazil Study Abroad webpage

Homebound - 6/7/15

Saying goodbye to Brazil
Saying goodbye to Brazil
My Brazil trip has now come to an end. The flights back to America seemed to go faster than the journey to Brazil. We began by leaving our last hotel near Florianopolis at 4 a.m. to catch our first flight to Rio de Janeiro. There we had a 12-hour layover, but that ended up being great because we got to see some of the city and break up our three flights home.

During our layover, we took four taxis from the Rio de Janeiro airport to Sugarloaf Mountain, about 45 minutes away. We rode in a huge cable car to the top of Urca's Mountain, then a second cable car up higher to the top of Sugarloaf. There were amazing views of Rio de Janeiro and the ocean from the top of both mountains.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
We also went to Copacabana beach in Rio! Though we didn’t get in the water or even the sand, we walked along the famous geometric black and white sidewalk, Copacabana Promenade. The beach wasn’t very populated this time of the year, but still had a few very tan people there. It was quite obvious that we were American tourists because we were all pale.

The long overnight flight from Rio to Houston went much better for me than the last time we made the journey. I had an aisle seat and we all were used to less personal space, so I could actually curl my body sideways to be more comfortable. That is one time when I am glad I’m short.

We arrived in Houston at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Getting through security and customs went much faster than I expected. I’ve heard stories about it being long and a pain, but it seemed to me that there were a lot of little steps that went fairly quickly. Many of us ate breakfast in the airport at McDonald’s and got Starbucks coffee while waiting for our final flight back to Omaha. You could say we missed stereotypically American food.

Homeward bound from Florianopolis airport
Homeward bound from Florianopolis airport
I didn’t realize how much I took language for granted. It was so nice to finally be surrounded by people speaking English in Houston. I could read the menus again and order my food without pronouncing everything wrong. I could even talk to someone or explain something without playing charades!

We were all excited to see our families and be back in Nebraska when we got off the plane at Omaha. After picking up our luggage we said our goodbyes to each other and went our separate ways after being together all day every day for the past three weeks.

The first thing I did when I got home was take a shower in my own shower and put on clothes that were hanging in my own closet in my own bedroom. It was wonderful to be back home. I unpacked and told my immediate family about Brazil after giving them all big hugs. I even went to bed early to get some sleep before falling back into my summer work routine the next day.

I know for sure that I will never forget my experience in Brazil. As a result of the trip, I am now more independent and confident in myself. I also enjoy reading English menus and trying new things instead of always ordering “my regular.” I am working on forming closer relationships with new coworkers sooner and trying to make them feel welcome like they do in Brazil. I appreciate having wifi and 4G almost all the time here in America, though I now realize that I am okay to go a long time without being constantly connected to my phone. My bed at home feels ten times comfier just knowing that it’s mine and will be there every night to sleep in. Finally, I cannot wait to eat chicken strips tonight with American ketchup that doesn’t taste like strawberry jelly.

I can’t express how glad I am to have made the decision to study abroad in Brazil. Before last fall, I had never even considered leaving the country with a bunch of strangers and leaving behind everything I know for multiple weeks. Studying abroad stretches you as a person and gives you many unique experiences that you’ll never forget. If you’re thinking about studying abroad at all, you should go for it; I promise it’s worth it.

Finish Strong with Relaxation - 6/3/15

Riding horses in Brazil
Riding horses in Brazil
The last two days in Brazil were quite relaxing. Both Monday and Tuesday were almost entirely free-time, except for some reflection and feedback time as a whole group. We all gave suggestions to make the program better for the next trip by explaining what parts of the trip we liked and what parts we would change.

During my Monday free time at Hotel Fazzenda I did many of the free activities. I rode a horse in a small group of people and two employees around a pasture in the mountains; it was beautiful. I also rode in a horse drawn carriage around one of the lakes. Some of us learned how to paddleboard. We stood on a surfboard type of thing and used a paddle to propel ourselves through the water. I was glad that it came naturally to me. No one fell in the lake! Some people played a lot of sand volleyball, including Rob and Allison, the adults on the trip.

I also spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool. It was very sunny on Monday, so a few of us got a little burnt in places. Laying out by the pool felt like a much needed vacation from our busyness the week before. Right around lunch the hotel even provided free drinks and snacks at the pool bar, which was fabulous.

Relaxing on the beach
Relaxing on the beach
On Tuesday we left Hotel Fazzenda for our final beach town, Canasvieiras, where we did more tanning during the sunny noon hour. A few of us bought sandwich supplies at a local convenience store to prepare and eat on the beach. Canasvieiras wasn’t very populated, but had a nice view of the ocean and a street with some shops. Of course it wasn’t until the very last day of vacation that I got a pedicure at a beauty salon with a couple other girls on the trip. It was way cheaper than a pedicure in the United States too; it only cost about $7.

We have to leave the Tropicanas hotel in Canasvieiras at 4 a.m. on Wednesday to get to the Florianopolis airport for our early flight to Rio de Janeiro, where we’ll have a twelve-hour layover before leaving for Houston. We’re planning on going to Sugarloaf and Copacabana beach in the afternoon, so it shouldn’t be too bad of a layover.

I think we’re all getting excited to be back in America and see our friends, family and English speaking people. It has been a fantastic three weeks, but I’m ready for American food and my home.

Variety for Our Last Weekend - 6/1/15
 

Bailey Fairchild on the beach
Bailey Fairchild on the beach
The weekend’s activities had a lot of variety for staying in two places an hour away from each other. I went running early Saturday morning on the beach in Balneário Camboriú, which was fantastic. I wish I could go running on a beach more often, though that is quite difficult in Nebraska. The atmosphere was beautiful with the skyline, sand and ocean, and the temperature was cool enough to run and not become too hot or stay too cold.    

Most of us got a lot of exercise Saturday during the day by walking around town looking at the shops. Balneário Camboriú had plenty of stores and hidden malls tucked away amongst the plethora of hotels. Havaianas flip-flops are very popular along the coast and typically cost nine American dollars, so naturally I ended up buying two pairs.
    
As an ice cream addict, I had to get my fill while we were walking around in an area that sells ice cream. The flavors of ice cream and shakes are different in Brazil compared to the United States, like lime, corn and doce de leite. I got a kiwi shake in the afternoon and a twist waffle cone after dinner.

While the sun was out in the morning and early afternoon, many of us went to the beach to tan and swim in the ocean. The water wasn’t too chilly but we didn’t stay in it more than half an hour. The waves were fun and kept us entertained whether we were in the water or watching them from a towel on the sand.

Gondola ride in Brazil
Gondola ride in Brazil
The next day we saw the coast from a distance out on a pirate ship. Two pirates hosted us and other families or tourists on their pirate ship to sail out along the Balneário Camboriú beach. The pirates had a sword fight over who got to love a woman studying abroad with me, accidently “stabbing” an audience member in the process. The voyage had a beautiful view along with interactive entertainment.

We also visited Parquet Unipraias where we rode in a gondola to a small adventure area. Many of us went ziplining there on one of the “adventures!” The zipline wasn’t very long, but was still nerve wracking the minute before we flew down the mountain. On the zipline and in the gondola we had an amazing view.

Next we moved to a new hotel in a different area an hour and a half inland of Balneário Camboriú. Hotel Fazzenda is in the middle of nowhere, right past a town called Gasper. This hotel is more like an all-inclusive resort with horses, pools, sports and five meals a day. I spent time in the pool and hot tub, both of which were warm and relaxing, though not the same as a beach.

We’ll spend two nights in this hotel before moving closer to the airport we’re flying out of in Florianopolis early Wednesday morning. Hopefully on Tuesday in Florianopolis we’ll get to spend some time on a beach in the sun.


Cloudy with a Chance of Beaches - 5/31/15

Husker Beach
Husker Beach
Wednesday morning we left the Adagio hotel in Porto Alegre for Torres, a small beach town a few hours north. The weather had been amazing the whole trip until Wednesday and Thursday. Those two days were very rainy, windy and cloudy - so much so the power went out both in our Porto Alegre hotel and the hotel we were planning on staying at in Torres. The Torres hotel didn’t have hot water when we arrived Wednesday night so they weren’t taking any guests. Luckily they owned a small apartment building across the street that had hot water, so they let us stay there instead. We only lost power a couple times for a few minutes.

Thursday morning we explored Torres and its beach, even though it was rainy, windy and cool outside. It was the second beach I had ever been to and the first outside of the United States! Two stray dogs followed us the entire way to the beach and back to our apartments, too. They were pretty friendly but barked at all the cars and ran directly in front of them whenever they passed. We didn’t stay outside or at the beach long and spent a lot of Thursday indoors.

On Friday we woke up before 6 a.m. to watch the sunrise from atop the cliffs by the ocean. It was less cloudy that day but we didn’t get a clear view of the sun. It was a beautiful sky and view of the ocean nonetheless. After eating breakfast we left for the next beach town, Balneário Camboriú. We drove for seven hours to get to Bombinhas beach, still an hour away from the hotel. Before going to the beach, I stopped at a nearby shop to buy a towel and flip-flops. As soon as I rounded the corner to the beach it started sprinkling, and when I got to the sand it down poured. It even hailed for a minute! I was determined to get in the water, so I ran out in the pouring rain an inch into the water, then turned around and ran back to the bus. We waited out the rain for 20 minutes.

Panoramic skyline of Brazilian beach
Panoramic skyline of Brazilian beach
As soon as the rain stopped, we left the bus and went back to the beach for the 45 minutes of sunlight we had left. There was even a double rainbow for us. I got pretty far out into the water but I’m not as tall as most people so others went farther. The water tasted like salt and I could taste it long after we left if I licked around my lips.

After dinner in hotel Vieira’s, some of us walked to the beach in that town. It was 9 p.m., but still pretty. It got me excited to visit the beach on Saturday! The rest of our trip will be mostly beach time which sounds relaxing. Hopefully the weather is wonderful!


The Last Days of Being “Unpacked” - 5/28/15

At the fútbol game
Croasonho Crew
Our last days in Porto Alegre were more people-focused. On Sunday we visited two types of churches, an Evangelical and a LDS church. The Evangelical church was much different from Evangelical churches in the United States. People were very passionate, the pastor was very loud and there was a lot of physical movement in the crowd during their “healing” service. A few people told brief stories of how they had been healed and others prayed for healing. The LDS church was family oriented, smaller and used a hymnal with that service’s song numbers posted on the wall. A few people took turns giving short messages on different topics.

After church, groups of two or three Americans went to different church families’ homes for lunch and the afternoon. I went to Isabel and Eduardo’s home with their three boys all under the age of four. The whole family was very nice and loved having company. Both parents spoke English well, as they had spent a few years in the U.S. We ate white rice, corn and pot roast with potato slices for lunch, along with some small chocolate candy bars for dessert; all of it was delicious. My mom has made all of those foods before, so it seemed very normal and cool that even in Brazil they eat the same meals we do clear across the globe in America.

At the fútbol game
Making cups from gourds
On Monday we went to a small home where a husband and wife make gourds into special cups that Brazilians commonly use to drink chimarrão, a very popular drink in southern Brazil. It is a drink where you fill a gourd-cup (cuia) half full along the side with green herbs (yerba), then fill the remaining half with hot water and drink the tea through a special metal straw (bombilla). It’s amazing how many people I’ve seen walking around with chimarrão on our visit; it’s everywhere!

We also visited Vila Jardim, an area similar to a slum. A block of rich houses was created with a square in the middle intended for a garden or clear space, but was filled in with many extremely poor people. Drug lords run the block and have the nice houses. Each vila has a medical clinic that takes care of the people. Cody, the leader of the trip, does research with a woman, Carmen, that works in the medical clinic at Vila Jardim, so we got to walk around the vila in groups. The people in the vila love their medical clinic people for taking care of them, so we were very safe as long as we were with the clinic people.

The vila was nothing like I had seen before. Narrow and steep alleys were crowded with small home areas. Glass shards or barbed wire topped many home areas and almost everything was gated, including windows. There were many dogs of all sizes both inside the gates and roaming the streets. We visited the daycare with many children younger than the school age inside. People did not appear to be in despair or misery; they were just living life. It’s hard to wrap my head around the vila and process it all when it’s so different from everything I know.

I ended my last night in Porto Alegre by getting dinner with my group of Brazilian students from UFGRS. Dakota, Ana, Laura, Carolina and I all went to a restaurant called Croasonho, where they have croissant sandwiches of savory and sweet flavors. It was delicious! We all bonded more and had a great time talking about being college students, norms in Brazil and America, and pop culture.

Wednesday morning we’re leaving Porto Alegre for a hotel in Torres, a couple hours North. In our last week in Brazil we’ll be in about four different hotels, so it’ll be interesting trying not to unpack very much to make moving around easier. We’ll go to many different beaches and watch the sun rise, so I’m very excited!

Halfway and Having Fun - 5/25/15

Bailey with waffles
Best waffles on earth!
People have felt much better so we have gotten mostly back on schedule with our planned activities, with one exception. Teachers went on strike the day before we were supposed to visit an elementary school, so we couldn’t go. But we have more free time, which is wonderful.

On Friday, we went out in Porto Alegre for a couple hours, found our own lunch and went shopping if we wanted. A friend and I found the best chocolate and pastry shop, Prawer Chocolates. A woman who spoke decent English who was likely the owner was there and helped us order. We got waffles with chocolate, strawberries and cream. She even went next door and bought us strawberries when we asked for strawberries on the waffles! She also suggested putting another waffle on top to make a sandwich, something they don’t usually do. Of course, we said yes. The food tasted absolutely amazing. I’m so glad we were able to try something new and unique.

We’ve gotten multiple shopping opportunities recently in a variety of places. We went to the Iguatemi Mall, an indoor mall with many stores that are quality and more expensive. We also visited a sketchy mall indoors near the middle of Porto Alegre only to buy cheap soccer jerseys for a Gremio game we were going to. At that shopping area, we split into small groups led by the adults, only looked at jersey places and didn’t carry our purses with us. A lot of safety tips were given and utilized about dealing with those who don’t have your best interest in mind such as walk with purpose, don’t take out more cash than you need and don’t draw attention.

A third type of place we shopped at was a street fair. It was similar to the Farmer’s Market in Lincoln’s Haymarket, but bigger with one long line and more hand made things. There we could bargain down prices and compare similar stores. We found gifts easily there. We also bought things at a local grocery store, Zaffari. It’s basically your average grocery store with a slightly different range of products. For example, they don’t really have granola bars, but they have more small cookie and cracker packages. All four types of shopping were unique and required different safety practices.

At the fútbol game
At the fútbol game
The whole group went to a fútbol game in a huge stadium built recently for the World Cup. One of the local teams, Gremio, played the Florianopolis team and won, 1 - 0. The stadium wasn’t very full, as neither team had won all their games. The section of dedicated fans was very enthusiastic and chanted the entire time, which made up for the small attendance of the game.

On Friday we presented projects we’ve been working on centered around the marketing aspect of the Tramontina Electric, a company we toured earlier in the trip. American students were paired with Brazilian students at UFGRS public college in groups of five to seven people. The presentations all went well and students from each country socialized and learned a lot from each other.

Overall the last few days have been awesome. We only have three days left in Porto Alegre, and we’re halfway through with our trip! It’s crazy how fast it’s going, though it feels like we’ve known each other forever now. We’ll all have to cherish each day and live one day at a time.

Learning in Factories and Universities Alike - 5/21/15

PUCRS
At the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul
We’ve now been in Porto Alegre for three days. The first day we toured a small shoe factory where they hand-make leather shoes and bags. The woman who designs the shoes showed us around and explained the whole process to us. We even got to look around the retail store down the street where some of us bought nice shoes. It’s nice that South America’s seasons are opposite, so all the summer heels were on sale, perfect for us American visitors.

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) private university generously hosted us from morning until dinner both Tuesday and Wednesday. While there, we attended various lectures presented by faculty at the university, as well as toured many buildings and the technology and science museum. The students and faculty at PUCRS speak English in some of their classes, so it was pretty easy to understand them all. We even took an hour to learn how to samba! It was very fun and sweaty.

Fun in Brazil
Fun in Brazil!
All of us students were very exhausted today. We’ve been busy, and the days get long because dinner isn’t usually until 8:30 or 9 p.m. We typically don't get back in the hotel until after 11 p.m. The hotel is one of the few places that wifi is available, so everyone usually wants to catch up with friends, family and some social media. We also journal about our time in Brazil, so bed time isn’t until late.

A few people actually got food poisoning, so we had fewer people make the trip to PUCRS on Wednesday. Around half of us are also sick or getting sick with some small cold as well, which is unfortunate. Honestly it’s not surprising that we’re sick, considering our close proximity all day, everyday. We’ll start getting better since we took it easy on Wednesday and are starting later on Thursday.

The hotel we’re staying in is very nice. The rooms have a washer and dryer, a mini kitchen with a stove-top and dishwasher, and a deck with a fireplace. It’s great even though we don’t get to spend much time in the room. We’ll be here for around five more days until moving to the next place!

Food, Swans and Bus-ride Naps - 5/18/15

Waterfall
Huskers in paradise
The past four nights (Thursday - Monday) We stayed in Kaster Hotel, a nice small hotel in Gramado, Thursday through Monday. The shower was lovely, with plenty of water pressure as well as a sliding all-glass door, which felt fantastic after long days of travel. The hotel also had a delicious breakfast bar filled with fruits, sandwich supplies and plenty of cakes. I did not expect so many cakes to be dessert flavors, multiple choices with chocolate in them!

While in Gramado and surrounding towns, we ate at multiple buffets. We also visited a winery, Sborneas, where the waiters continuously brought out small portions of various meats, wraps, rice mixtures and other foods. Just after we were stuffed, they brought out each of the 23 varieties of desserts which were fabulous. Another different type of restaurant we visited was a fondue place called Maison do la Fondue. We started the night with a cheese fondue with bread and potatoes. Next was a hot oil fondue to cook steak, chicken and pork before dipping it in a choice of around 15 types of sauces. The best fondue came last - a chocolate fondue to dip eight kinds of fruit in. We were all very stuffed to say the least.

We burned some of the calories from the wonderful food by hiking to Caverna dos Bugres near Santa Maria do Herval. There we saw a cave and a waterfall! Most of us went in the water and took plenty of pictures with a husker flag. Back in Gramado, we had some time to walk around the city and shop! There were a lot of tourist shops to look at. A beautiful cathedral was near the middle of the city where we went to mass on Sunday.

Swan races
Who let the swans out?
Later that day we went to Lago Negro to have a picnic and race swan paddleboats! That was fun, though some other Brazilians looked at us funny when some of us made a row of five aligned swans moving as one.

So far we've spent a lot of time on the bus going from place to place. It's cool to see different parts of Brazil and hillside views. Generally the ride is very bumpy, as Brazil's streets in the Gramado area aren't smooth, are narrow, steep, winding, and usually only two lane. A lot of times people will try to sleep on the bus, which is kind of amusing to watch. It's amazing what people can sleep through in unusual positions if they're tired enough!

Rodrigo and Ana, along with their one year old daughter, Mariela, have been acting as our Brazilian guides during our trip. Rodrigo drives the bus and Ana loves hanging out with us and helping us talk to those who speak Portuguese. Mariela is one of the cutest and happiest babies ever. The whole family is very nice and we're glad to have them along.

We packed up all of our things on Monday and are driving to Porto Alegre for the next segment of our trip. There we will stay 8 nights, so we have enough time to actually unpack most of our suitcases!

Two Full Days of Travel - 5/16/15

After nearly 36 hours of travel, we finally arrived at our hotel in Gramado. Our journey began at the Omaha airport on Wednesday, May 13, in the early afternoon. We took a tiny plane from Omaha to Houston where we had a decent layover before flying overnight to Rio de Janeiro. It was a nine-and-a-half hour flight but felt like 12 hours having crossed two time zones.

Sleeping on a plane when you're in the center of the center aisle is very difficult. I don't think many of us slept well at all. Landing and getting off that plane was my low point in the trip. My head really hurt from the turbulence during our descent, as well as a lack of sleep, food and water. I prayed a lot during those hours, because I knew I couldn't make I through alone. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we were ready to get where we were going.

Bailey at lunchtime
Brazilian culinary delights
I felt better after eating food and drinking water in the Rio airport during our five- hour layover Thursday morning. Our third and last flight from Rio de Janeiro to Porto Alegre was a little under two hours and was my favorite flight of the three. The plane had two rows of three, there were enough clouds to look beautiful but not obscure your vision the whole time and I slept without much issue. I love looking at clouds from the ground, but they're just as stunning, if not even more so, from above. My favorite time to look out the window is when everything looks toy sized. I think it's so neat to have an overhead view.

Once we landed in Porto Alegre, we met up with our Brazilian guides, Ana and Rodrigo, as well as the other faculty leader, Cody. We all took a crowded tram system to a Brazilian market 20 minutes away and walked around for a while to observe the culture. We also stopped for ice cream there!

Finally, we got on a bus and ate sandwiches, cookies, fruit and juice on the way to our hotel in Gramado. A lot of us slept on the bus even though the roads and drivers here are crazy as they fit in tight spaces, go fast and merge like crazy on the one-ways.

I am ready for a shower, a change of clothes and horizontal sleeping. We'll see what adventures tomorrow brings now that we're officially in Brazil!
 
T Minus 24 Hours - 5/13/15
 

It’s crazy to think that in less than 24 short hours I’ll be in Brazil. Yesterday was productive as I took care of a lot of little things that needed to be done before I could leave. I bought small Nebraska and Husker gifts for different Brazilian families we’ll be in contact with. I talked to the bank so my account won’t freeze while I’m trying to use it in Brazil. I now own a global electricity transformer so I can charge my electronics and blow-dry my hair. I even arranged for presents and cards to be delivered for a couple of birthdays I’ll miss! The only thing I have left to do is pack… which is probably the most important thing.  But I did make a list of things to pack two nights ago in order to procrastinate actually packing. Don’t worry, I’ll at least lay out all the things I need to pack the night before.
               
The idea of leaving the country, my family, my friends and my job for the next three weeks hasn’t sunk in yet. It doesn’t seem real and it probably won’t until I’m at the airport. I know they’ll all miss me, and I’m sure I’ll miss them, but I’ll be distracted by Brazil adventures. I’m definitely excited to go and experience something  completely different from anything I’ve done before. This will be my second time on a plane that I’m old enough to remember, so hopefully all goes well for the long 14 hour flight! I’m sure it will all go fine. That’s all for now, I need to make steps toward packing!