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– Observações – Chris Grzech

August 3, 2012
We arrived in Campinas, São Paulo this three days ago.  It is a very beautiful city.  The climate is incredible, especially considering that it is winter here.  A few observations:
 
1.  There is a disproportionate number of astoundingly beautiful women in Brazil.
2.  It is considered very important for guaraná and beer to be served cold in Brazil.  Coffee is much stronger but taken in much smaller doses.
3.  We would have missed our connection from Belo Horizante to Campinas if I didn’t speak Portuguese.
4.  Brazilians know that Portuguese is not widely taught in the United States.  Therefore, every bit of Portuguese spoken at any level is greatly appreciated.  Everyone is eager to aid in the learning process, so long as you try your best.  
5.  Barely anyone speaks English.  Even if they have had classes before, or are familiar with American or British media, they are often not comfortable with speaking the language.  Most have never been to an English-speaking country.  That being said, many Brazilians like to practice and learn English from you.  But they’d still rather you communicate in Portuguese.
6.  The best way to facilitate a casual conversation in Portuguese is to talk about the Portuguese language itself and the various nuances in accents you have observed.  There are countless regional dialects within Brazil, each of which are fairly distinct.  In Brasília and Campinas, there is quite a mixture of people from many different parts of the country. People from the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa (such as Angola and Moçambique) also have there own distinct accents, which in my experience, appear to be closer to European Portuguese.  The professor that I studied with at UofL is from Portugal.  I’ve been told that I have a little bit of a European accent, and I am proud of this.
7.  Beyond noticing dialects and inquiring about them, learning colloquial expressions and vulgar phrases may help one make friends.  These phrases cannot be found in dictionaries, so any appropriate use of them amuses people quite a bit.
8.  Eating healthy is not hard to do here.
9.  Brazilians are very proud of their musical contributions to the world and with very good reason (samba, forró, choro, etc.).  Not only is a lot of Brazilian music infectiously danceable, but very impressive to watch as it is played live.  I look forward to the study of many Brazilian styles of music at UNICAMP.
10.  People love it when we play Jazz and Rock n’ Roll.
11.  I’m glad I’m not a politician.  
12.  In the United States, when it is below freezing outside, someone will inform you of how cold you look and tell you what a bad decision you made not to wear any more articles of clothing.  In Brazil, when the weather is absolutely beautiful with a slight breeze, someone will offer you the clothing off their back because they think it’s cold so it must be cold for you. 
 
Until next time,
Christopher Grzech
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