A Week in the Life: Studying in Brazil
Getting up on the first day of the week is always the hardest for me. I’m up at 7am in order to be in class for 8:20am! I managed waking up at 6:30am all the way through school but then uni came along and that all went out the window, so 7am has become an effort again.
I have class for two hours (although in this particular lecture, the finish times can be anything from 20 minutes early to an hour early if you have a “prova” (test). We don’t have to buy particular books for lessons but there is a recommended book list. Essays are more about your opinion and there is less emphasis placed on academic referencing.
It’s just before 10am by the time I normally finish this class so I will normally head back and get some reading or homework done for the class. Or because I have to do a compulsory Year Abroad Research Project, I will get some reading done for this. This will go on into the afternoon as well.
In the UK, going out during the week is totally normal and back home I wouldn’t even think of it as strange. But here, because a lot of young people work during the day and study at night, going out is just not a done thing. Instead people may hit one of the many bars that line the outside of the university. A favourite of mine is a student bar near my apartment called “Centro Social de Cerveja” (“Social Centre of Beer”). If I’m Facetiming my family during the week, my mum will ask “you off out tonight?” and I’ll think “pffft, no! Are you crazy? It’s Monday!”
So that’s a typical Monday for me! Here's my department building on campus - the “Communications and Expressions Centre”:
Tuesdays I normally wake up a tiny bit later and then head to the Centre for the weekly food market or “feira” as it’s known here. They have all kinds of things on offer in terms of fruit, veg, cheese and dry meat (ie. salami, ham etc). It’s nothing like the European markets with fresh fish and meat trucks but you can get some decent quality food for good prices. Although I was told the other day that none of the food is organic. Sometimes we’ll either head straight back or sometimes we’ll stick around and have a wander around the Centre. I like to be back by about 2pm so I can have time to prepare myself for my evening class. Normally my grandparents will Facetime me weekly about 4pm (my time) on a Tuesday evening as well so I like to be back for that.
My evening class is three and a half hours long so I eat dinner in the university canteen beforehand. Why the canteen you ask? Well, for 50p per meal you can pile up your plate with all kinds of things like rice, beans, lentils, meat, fish, vegetables, salads and chips. And I know what you’re thinking: I bet the quality is rubbish. It’s not I promise, it’s actually good food!
All theatre classes are evening/night classes so from half past six ‘til 10pm every Tuesday I have a theatre Improvisation class. I chose this class because I wanted to improve my random everyday vocabulary and trust me: it has! We don’t get homework for this class, and the reason for this is that the teacher didn’t want to spoil anyone’s weekend, hers included. I’m perfectly content with this!
It’s a practical class so it makes for a nice calm work out sometimes, but because of this you get tired quickly, particularly around half eight, nine o’clock when you’d normally be winding down from the day. I will get back from this class just after 10pm and usually pass out almost as soon as I get in the door.
I’m normally up about half past eight on Wednesdays and make my way into uni for my second foreign literature class of the week from 10:10am-12:10pm – although again, we’re normally let out much earlier than this! I had a half an hour test one week and we were free to go as soon as we’d finished it… It was great!
I have a friend who then has a class from 2pm until 6pm so we typically meet for lunch every Wednesday for two hours. We’ll go to the university canteen or a café in another part of the campus normally but I like exploring new places so every so often we’ll switch it up and go find a restaurant with lunch time deals just outside of campus, so that she can get back for her class.
Once she leaves for her class I normally like to buy whatever I forgot or couldn’t get from Tuesdays market at the on-campus market every Wednesday. There is one hippy guy who I will buy organic fruit and veg from (you know it’s organic because there is still soil on them) as well as incense because it is two Reais for seven sticks (less than £1). The guy is really sweet and always says “namaste” (“na-mass-day”) to you after you’ve made a purchase.
As we have an obligatory research project to complete for our home university, we are only required to take half our normal modules (so two modules instead of four), so after this class, I’m done for the week. So I typically spend Wednesday afternoons chilling at the apartment or going for a wander to the big shopping centre nearby (Shopping Iguatemi).
Thursday has officially been declared as beach day, need I explain more? We will get up at the normal time and head for the Lagoa area about half ten. We usually go to Barra da Lagoa, which is a little bit further out but totally worth the effort so we will take about two buses and arrive about an hour later.
We have lunch and then we’ll find a place to sit for the afternoon. These afternoons usually consist of doing a bit of reading for university, followed by some sunbathing, followed up with some paddling in the ocean. It’s a magical place and I feel so happy every time I’m there.
One afternoon we were lucky enough to see some killer whales jumping (I believe that is the technical term) in the shallows and also some penguins swimming in the bay! Although unfortunately they normally end up in the bays because they’re lost and it’s very typical to see penguins washed up dead on beaches here. But it’s still a fantastic place!
Around 4pm we usually make our way home and I’m normally exhausted, so a calm evening it is with a book or some TV.
I don’t have classes again today so the interesting part of my day – apart from the fact it is Friday of course – is getting together with some good friends to cook and then go out for the evening.
We tend to cook altogether, have a few drinks and then we’ll either go out to an event (for example Batukada music (drums) or we sometimes stay in and have some friends over too. We have some Brazilian friends who have taught us simple steps to dances like Certenejo, Forró and some of the cheesy dance routines to some Brazilian pop classics. It’s brilliant fun and everyone in Brazil seems to know the moves when you go out to an event with a DJ set.
Typical going-out drinks are Caipirinhas (“kai-pee-reen-yaz”) made up of cachaca, sugar, lime and ice, and beer. I think it’s possible to get Vodka mixes if you’re at a club. But Caipirinhas are delicious when made properly and oddly enough: very refreshing!
Events and parties really don’t get under way until after midnight but being westerners we are usually terribly sleepy by about two/three o’clock in the morning, so we’ll taxi back home. They are very much in love with Calvin Harris here and there’s been more than one occasion when our taxi driver has turned up a C.H. set on his stereo system and rocked out to it on the drive back. It makes me chuckle.
On Saturdays we’ll either take it easy or we’ll go for an adventure, heading to the beach or somewhere close by. We went for a wander around the Corrego Grande Parque Ecologico one afternoon which was great. It’s a wildlife park tucked into the neighbourhood and it has a quiet trail that you can walk with little monkeys hanging out of trees, as well as a petting zoo, climbing frames and an outdoor exercise area. I highly recommend going there!
Saturday evenings usually consist of cooking with the same group of friends and then staying in (depending on what we got up to on Friday), or visiting our land lady and her husband for dinner.
They will always have people over for dinner at the weekend, whether it’s family, neighbours or friends, they always have a gathering. They will usually make a churrasco (“choo-hass-koh”) which is kind of like a BBQ because they have an outdoor stove that they can cook it on. On Independence Day though (7th September) we were meant to have oysters, but due to it being a bank holiday: nowhere was open, so we had Brazilian style hot dogs instead. (Hot dogs, peas, tomatoes, shaved chips, sweetcorn: all in a bun).
Sometimes someone will have a guitar so people will sit round and sing or listen. It’s a really comfortable, mellow and enjoyable occasion to be a part of. We will then either stay and enjoy the evening with them, or then head back to the apartment and carry on with our own plans.
Sunday is similar to Saturday, you either relax or finish your errands, or you go out and have an explore. So far our Sundays have consisted of spending most of the day with our land lady, going to the beach or in one instance: going to the “Parada da Diversidade” (a Gay Pride Parade). Over the next three months we’ll be taking a couple of weekend trips away to places such as Blumenau on the mainland for the Brazilian Oktoberfest, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and also Iguacu Falls. As long as you throw yourself into life here, there is always something to do or something new to explore.
So that is a typical week for me as an international student in Florianópolis, Brazil!
[Photo by Aline Ruviaro]
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Best of luck on your year abroad!