Ola from Brazil! I have just wrapped up my first week in beautiful Florianopolis. I am spending the first two weeks here for sure, as I attend Step 1 Idiomas intensive language training. Before jumping into college level courses on soil physics and erosion, I am supposed to have some sort of basic working knowledge of the Portuguese language. As of this semester, Kansas State does not offer a course in Portuguese, so instead, I am trying cram a foreign language in my noggin in approximately 15 days. They were right- it's intense.
Step 1 is a program that incorporates total immersion into its teaching structure. They set up home stays for all of the students, and I am staying in a little home with a nice Floripan family. The daughter has given up her room so that I may stay in it with some privacy. The extended family owns four houses on this street, and many know a little English. As a result, there are a ton of visitors who stop in, all wanting to practice their conversational skills with me. It’s nice, but they are learning way more English than I am Portuguese. The kids and dad are great, but I am a bit intimidated by my host mother who speaks very fast, and does not smile often. She goes out of her way to do nice things for me, so I know she likes me a little. We do a lot to avoid conversation, however, because we have, as of yet, not understood a single sentence from the other.
In my class this week, there is a guy from Texas, a Columbian girl that I really like and understand pretty well conversationally, and a guy from Peru who tends to mumble a mixed up Spanglish-guese dialect quite frequently. In a more advanced class, there are a couple of Tico twins that I hang out with regularly. They are outrageously funny, like Click and Clack with super foul mouths. They have a killer act down; one that has been twenty-five years in the making. Turns out they are also National Champions in Costa Rican tennis doubles.
At school, the only language allowed is Portuguese. And there is no formal introduction. You are tossed into a class with students from all over the world, some of which are new and some of which have been at Step 1 for a few weeks. They are super strict on the whole immersion deal. You wanna ask the dude from Texas where you can exchange your dollars for reais? You better be using your dictionario to figure it out in Portuguese. Ouch.