Sunday, February 20, 2011


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. 

I don't think the typical Brazileiro requires as much sleep as we Americans do. They go and go and go....  I've been here a week, and have packed so much in already. I'll try to post some pictures; no promises though.  A few nights ago, I went to see the samba school practice for the competitions during Carnaval. This 'practice' included a huge street party with 200+ drummers and 300+ dancers parading around the town square  and the population equivalent of Baxter Springs singing along in attendance. While hiking in the nearby state park, I saw some incredible new flora, birds, and insects.  I've also been to the local churrascaria to dine on roasted chicken hearts. On the southern beaches of the island, I got some sun and enjoyed huge, cheap, delicious oysters (one of my favorites and hard to come by, back home on the prairie).   I have tried the most famous Brazilian drink (caiprinha, made with sugar cane liquor and limes), been witness to the infamous micro-bikinis on Brazilian beaches, and got down on the dancefloor, with an oh-so-talented, bronzed Brazileiro. So far, I like it here, and language aside, I think I'm assimilating quite well.


  1. Very interesting. I'll try to follow you on your posts. Grant will be in Brazil for carnival.

  2. Thanks, Erin! And thanks for the heads-up; Grant caught up with me on FB. Such a small world! Hope everything is going great for you!

  3. Hi Lala, Thanks to you & your Dad for the photos, they're very interesting, and your comments too.
    I tried posting earier, but maybe not doing something right..??
    I saw Katie recently & thanked her for the sweet thing she did for this old "Grandpa" on Valentine's day, it was precious. You & your sisters are SO special.
    We know you're busy, but sure enjoy your "blogs".
    ..praying for your safety, good health, etc.
    Have a great time, Love ya, "Grandpa" Gordon.