Kayaking: Los Torres del Paine, Chile

Kayaking trip by Hello Patagonia
Lago Grey
Rio Grey
Rio Serrano

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Slightly Stoopid concert

Slightly Stoopid concert – 19/3/2014 at Circo Voador.

This was a great time, too bad my GoPro stopped working half way through!

I’m back!

Olá meus amigos, tudo bem? Due to popular demand (my mom) I have been requested to keep writing to update you all on the carioca life! Here’s my attempt to consolidate two months into one post.  Wish me luck!

Homestay

I’ve been living in a homestay with a “mãe brasileira” and an Italian photographer (check out some of his work here (http://www.claudioserpentini.it/) in Copacabana, about two blocks from the beach.  My “Brazilian mom” currently has one son who is currently studying in Switzerland.  She can speak English, German, Portuguese, Italian, and a little bit of French (I think).  Similar to many other cariocas, she doesn’t let her age deter her from having a good time.  There’s been several nights when I’ve rolled in at 4 am or later, and she still hasn’t gotten back from going out with friends!

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Living room

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My Bedroom

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 View from my room

Classes

During the month of January I participated in an “intensive Portuguese language course” at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, the university in which I’m currently studying at. The course was 5 hours a day/5 days a week and taught by two separate professors who looking back, were probably two of my favorite teachers of all time.

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Learning to barter at a market in Leblon

I can easily say I learned more Portuguese in this one month than the 3 years of Spanish I took in high school, followed by another year in college. Not being able to communicate with anyone during the first few weeks was extremely frustrating so it’s safe to say I had a little bit more motivation to learn Portuguese, however.  I also knew that my international business classes during the actual semester were going to be taught solely in Portuguese.

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Last day of class for the ILC

The university itself, PUC-RIO (pronounced pookee), is said to be one of the best in Brazil.  It’s located near the Tijuca forest in Gávea, a very wealthy area of Rio.  It’s a little bit more aesthetically appealing than the University of Tennessee believe it or not, being basically in the middle of a rain forest.

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Campus

After a few weeks of taking classes in Portuguese, it looks like it’s going to be a tough semester.  Rather than taking notes, I’ve been spending most of the class periods writing down words I don’t know and translating them (there are a lot of them).  I can see that I’m picking up more and more each class so I’m hoping it won’t be as difficult to understand what the teacher is saying in the next few months.

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John F. Kennedy Building

Buzios

We had a week off in between the ILC and the regular semester so a few of us decided to take a trip to Buzios, a beautiful city about a 3 hour drive from Rio with tons of beaches in a small area.  We stayed in a House for a fairly cheap price when compared to beach house rental prices in the US.  It was great to get out of the mega city for a few days to relax.

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Statues of fisherman

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Wind Surfer

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That’s all I have time for right now, but stay tuned to more posts coming up in the near future!

Cheers,

Benjy

Benjy is in Brasil

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Hey everyone, I arrived in Rio this morning and survived a full day without dying.  I guess this place isn’t too bad.  Here’s a list of top 10 things I’ve learned thus far in this whole new world.

1.  Some people here only want to take advantage of gringos/tourists. – As soon as I landed in the airport, a man claiming to be a “yellow” taxi driver told me it would be 92 Brazilian Reais to get to the Hostel I’m staying at tonight.  The owner of the hostel told me I got scammed and shouldn’t have paid more than 30-40.. Son of a beech!

2. Some people here are awesome and love to help out gringos/tourists. –  I’d like to give a shout out to Memphis Araujo, a girl who works at the Habitat Hostel here.  She is the only Brazilian I’ve been in contact with so far who can speak English well.  She bought me a Coco on the beach and showed me around the city.  The deal was I help her with her English while she helped me with Portuguese.

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Photo credit to Memphis

3. It is hot AF here… – According to weather.com, the heat index was around 50 degrees Celsius (120  degrees Fahrenheit) and it’s more humid than a sauna.

4. Cocos are awesome. – They’re fresh coconuts with a hole drilled in them.  Stick a straw in the coco, and you’re good to gogo.  Get it? Vendors on the beach sell these puppies for 3-5 reais a pop.  In USD that = cheap.

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5. Everyone wears tiny swimwear. – Including people who shouldn’t.

6. Hostels are pretty cool. – There’s a mix of French, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers in here right now and we’re all just chilling in the living room.  Too bad I have no idea what they’re saying.

Edit: We made a game out of trying to have a conversation between the four languages.  It’s hard to describe how satisfied the room was when everyone clicked on what we were talking about.

7. If you thought “northern” drivers were bad, you have no idea… – The taxi driver that drove me to the Habitat Hostel was going 50 km/h over the speed limit, cut off two policia cars, and almost flipped the car coming around a curve.  It’s safe to say I almost wet (I for sure wet) myself on the way.

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8. It’s hard to eat when you have no idea how to speak a country’s predominant language. – I checked out the grocery store and was gonna buy some stuff to make a sandwhich or four with.  Apparently they don’t have prepackaged meat down here and I had no idea how to ask the butcher to cut me some.  I then left the store with my head down in defeat.

9. Rio is not AS bad as people make it out to be. – YES, there are many areas where as a gringo, you’d probably get mugged on the spot.  But like any city, as long as you aren’t in those areas, you’re fine!

10. Dogs can skateboard here.  – See below.

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This has been one of the craziest days of my life.

Cheers,

Benjy

O Cidade Maravilhosa!

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Hey everyone!  After making the trip down to Atlanta, I finally got my Brazilian Visa! That means I’m officially flying to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil on January 2nd to study abroad for the next 6 months! A quick shout-out to Tyler Knox is in order for letting me crash at his place in Atlanta (where the Brazilian Consulate is located) with basically no notice.

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It seems like everyone who studies abroad these days starts up a blog to document their endeavors.  As you can see, I’ve obviously decided to jump on the bandwagon. The main purpose for this blog is to keep family & friends updated on the Carioca life and give them a glimpse on what it’s like down there. Several friends of mine who’ve studied overseas explained that the experience goes by in a flash.  I’d also like to have some solid material I can use to reminisce on down the road and a blog seemed like the best outlet to do so.

I’m gonna mix it up for you guys a bit to make Benjy Abroad not only entertaining but informative too.  Along with the traditional introspective, “I’m discovering so much about myself posts” and the instagram worthy, “I’m so well-traveled/cultured, look at me in foreign places pics”, I’ll be writing about the local food, music, and history of Rio.  A variety of posts on other topics such as Carnival and the 2014 World Cup will also be thrown in as I see fit.

Without further ado, I’d like to thank everyone for taking time out of their busy day from scrolling down the Facebook newsfeed to check out my blog.  I hope I can share a few pieces of myself with Benjy Abroad and make sure to stay tuned for more posts!

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Random Fact #1: According to Askmen.com, Rio De Janeiro is the city with the best looking women in the world.

I may have to argue that Knoxville takes the cake on this one, but I guess I’ll just have to see for myself on Friday.