I have become ‘kaytch’ (or sometimes kaytch perry, the only Katie that seems to have ever pierced the Brazilian consciousness) and am going to remain so for the foreseeable future! Brazilians are completely incapable of pronouncing a ‘t’ sound and so I am embracing my new identity wholeheartedly!
By the end of this year I shall be as Brazilian as it is possible for a 6ft, pasty blonde to be!
I was welcomed to Brazil by AIESEC, through whom I found my placement and who have been absolutely wonderful so far, I can’t recommend them enough! I got the job at Easter and only just managed to get my visa in time to start at the Parque Ecologico Rio Formoso, booking my flight a surreal one week before coming out here! For anyone that doesn’t know, this year abroad is a part of my Spanish and Portuguese course at the University of Southampton. In order graduate we have to (I know- poor us) spend 9 months working or studying in a country where our weaker language is spoken, and so voila, here I am, settling in to 10 months working here in Bonito, Brazil, ecotourism hub. I am currently learning the ropes in reception which is brilliant for my speaking, but have been promised I soon get to break free and help with the activities they offer, horse riding, snorkelling and ‘boia cross’, a kind of mini white water rafting.
As I did in Spain last summer I’m going to use this blog to keep anyone interested updated about my antics and as a great way to record my thoughts, feelings and experiences for myself to look back on!
So far it’s all been work, work, work with occasional half days off to go and watch the Brazilian World Cup games. You know a country needs to sort out its priorities when you get an afternoon off for a football match but will be expected to work all day on Christmas Day! I normally loathe football but I’m quickly coming to associate it with time off and caipirinhas and I love the atmosphere here. I know millions of people would kill to be here during the World Cup so never fear, I’m making the most of it!
So far the main highlight is the people, I love Brazilians! Everyone I have met has been utterly lovely, the people at the park have been so welcoming and I’ve already made some great friends in the town. People are so open and very curious to know who I am! Bonito suffers from small town syndrome in a major way and I keep meeting people who know exactly who I am and being told I am a hot topic amongst Bonitonians, so we’ll see how that develops!
For anyone reading this off on their year abroad over the summer or in September, my one observation so far is that although my perception of my time here was that I’m here to improve my Portuguese, to my employers this is secondary. They are expecting huge dedication and for me to prioritise them over everything, which was a bit of an adjustment. However I’m so glad I’ve decided to work and I’m so glad I’ve come to Brazil. The skills I’m learning already are going to be invaluable when I decide to re-enter the world of work sometime in the very distant future! Can’t wait to see what you all get up to!
And what about the Portuguese I hear you cry. It’s brilliant. It’s gone from a language I was struggling with and rather bored by in lectures at uni to the most fascinating and beautiful language that clicks a little more every day. My listening skills have always been a strength so I could understand most things from day one but speaking is coming on little by little. The main issue is the accent as Brazilians make sounds I can’t even begin to produce with my inflexible British voicebox.
I won’t go on as you’re all going to be hearing quite enough from me over the next year (when I find time between my 44 hour week and dates with caipirinhas – there isn’t much else to do of an evening!). Promise to keep you all updated whether you like it or not!