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– Observation – Shane Porter

August 8, 2012

The past week and a half has been an interesting one.  Music has taken the backseat a bit until classes started, which was today.  Instead, I’ve been helping Joey build beds and armoires, seeing the city of Campinas, playing pool at the bar around the corner, and practicing my Portuguese.  People here act similarly as they do in Brasilia, by which I mean relentlessly welcoming. Until December, Joey and I are staying in a boarding house consisting of about 7 others, most of whom speak no English.  Our bastardized version of the native tongue is beginning to shape into a coherent dialect, and our conversations are a little less embarrassing to witness.  In all seriousness I think our constant contact with Brazilians here in Campinas has drastically improved our skills, and this new Portuguese class can only help that.  I am also very excited to finally get the new semester started and to get back into the regular practice routine.

The campus of Unicamp is huge, and full of other foreign students: Argentineans, Germans, Portuguese, Indians, Japanese and at least one other American.  Beautiful Brazilian women abound, and there is never a shortage of parties for them to congregate.  The general attitude seems to that of working hard and playing hard.  While the parties are huge and frequent, during the week students seem to move navigate campus with purpose; they have a desire to do well in school and study their respective craft.  At U of L, when I wander from the School of Music, I see people who I think wonder why they’re in college in the first place.  Most all of the people that I have met here appear motivated to succeed, but maybe that’s just a front.

If there is anything to complain about, it is this:  I don’t think people here realize that there are only 24 hours in a day.  I think there are under the impression that they’re 30, or 32.  There is rarely a sense of urgency, and punctuality occurs when convenient.  Today the three of us had arranging class at 8:00 am, and we were there at about five till, ready to start.  Nobody else was there, and about ten minutes later, one of our friends from Portugal, also an exchange student, arrived.  It was about another ten minutes before the first Brazialian showed up, then another few minutes before the Professor arrived.  We started the first class of the semester about 30 minutes late, unheard of at any U of L class I’ve been to, but nobody seemed bothered by this at all.  In fact, it was like everyone else besides the foreigners knew this was going to happen and showed up 20 minutes late in preparation.  It is definitely a difference in attitude that I need to get used to in order to keep my head from imploding.  Other than this hurdle, I am having a great time in this new setting, and I am anxious for all of the things I’m going to learn.

-SP

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