The first thing I have taken for granted is my cellphone. Although I never had it glued to my face and I couldn't even remember where I put it half the time, it was still nice to have something in case of emergencies, to get together with friends, or to call home for a ride. Here I don't have a cellphone, yet. My only way of communication with friends is face to face (the best kind), messenger, or orkut (brasilian facebook). None-of-these tend to be as efficient for a quick let's hang out situation. I make them call my brother. People now joke that he's my secretary, but I don't think either of us mind, because he comes on every outing I go on anyways. However I realized I was completely stranded twice over the last two days. The first was when I was at school and my brother left early because he was sick. He told me they'd come get me after school, but what if they had forgotten, what if something came up and I had to walk home? They didn't, but it was still enough for me to be thankful back home that I had a cellphone on me. The next time I noticed this was today. My brother was taking me to a public english class given by volunteers for lesser fortunate children. I was there to answer questions and help them use their English. We couldn't get a ride with our parents because they had the truck somewhere else so we called a taxi. Correction, two taxis (they were moto-taxis a.k.a. motorcycles). Before I got on the guy asked me where to, I wasn't sure exactly so I asked Henrique. Henrique said where we were going so we were off. I had trouble getting my helmet strapped so we lost sight of them, but that shouldn't have been any big deal. Then the guy asked me again, where to. I started to get worried, I told him everything I knew, I told him where it was near, what it was, everything Henrique had told me earlier that day. However it didn't seem to be enough and he didn't seem to understand. So he drove around and was like, "is it here?" and I had no idea, so I repeated "It's near the Rotary Club, Its a masonaria" or something along those lines. He stopped the bike and we waited from 5 or so minutes while he called around to find where the other driver had dropped my brother. Eventually we made it, but I didn't have a cellphone, nor did I know the number of my brother so I couldn't use the driver's. All I know by heart here is my address, but we just came from there so that didn't serve me well, although my plan was to go back if we couldn't figure anything out. I think they'll be getting me one soon. Tomorrow I'm visiting a public school without my brother. Let's hope it goes well.
Along with cellphones, I miss the freedom of driving. Very much taken for granted in the States. I have been driving since I was 16 years and 7 days old. I could get anywhere I needed because I always had a car. Here is not so. I can't drive, and our family shares one vehicle. It's frustrating sometimes, however I'm getting used to having my host parents drive me everywhere.
Laundry is another thing I have taken too much for granted back in the United States. Here we have a maid, she cooks, cleans, and does our laundry. This should be awesome right? Right. However, if I give her my dirty laundry on monday I don't get it back until Wednesday, granted it is washed, air dried, ironed, and folded, HOWEVER I don't have much clothes here to begin with and over the weekend I wear a lot. I left her all of my dirty clothes on Monday and was planning on keeping what I was wearing and what I wore to bed until I got my other clothes back. She is sneaky though and now knows where I keep my dirty clothes, so she grabbed all of my dirty clothes today as well, leaving me with the pair of jeans I have on, some nice jeans in my drawer, and sweatpants. This means as of right now I have no shorts to wear around town, and no shorts to wear to bed. With hot weather I may just perish. I also only have one uniform shirt for school because I don't want to buy another one just yet, since it takes two days and she's not here on weekends I'm going to have to, because it'll get gross (especially since we have school on saturdays too). So sorry mom for not being that great with my laundry before, but I do/did really appreciate having laundry done with a quick turn around multiple times a day!
Home cooking is something I thoroughly enjoy here and there, and it is something I live for. However in Minnesota it was a given. We are at home every night and we have a homemade sit down meal. Here is about the same, however the menu is different. It is delicious don't get me wrong, but there is something comforting and perfect about eating my mother's food, in our own kitchen. Even on other vacations with my family, the food always tasted better at our Northfield address. I have had delicious foods here, unbelievably delicious, but there is still a part of me that yearns for homemade chicken noodle soup, or chicken and mashed potatoes. I know I can probably get ahold of stuff to make it here, but it isn't the same when it's not at home. Thank you for spoiling me dear family, because now I'm forever comparing stuff to "Bisek" food and "Duchene" desserts.
I have been able to express my thoughts in words since I was a young child. I have always had someone that would understand when I spoke to them. Yes, here I have freedom of speech, in fact socially it is more acceptable and less rude to interrupt people and to say slightly rude things about people as well. It's all in a joking manner and it doesn't offend many people here. However, I have less ability than ever. I'm slowly learning enough portuguese to throw in my two cents and to send around witty comments as well. I also am becoming better at understanding other people so that I can understand more jokes now and don't have to give a little giggle just because everyone else is laughing. Today in school I talked almost too much, I think some of the teachers will get sick of me disrupting their other students (but most of the time they start the conversation!) As awful as that sounds, it's good for me, because the more talking I do the more I learn and the more outgoing, friendly, and normal I can be. However I think it is too taken for granted by anyone in any country that everyone understands them. I don't want to be silent here and I want to understand everything, and it is coming, but it's rough when you have no idea what is going on. (Although sometimes it does give a good excuse for not taking tests or doing homework ;) ) [[[sidenote: I scored better on my history test (still failed...passing is a 7/10, I got a 4) than another boy in my class (he got a 3.5). I felt bad because the teacher made fun of him/yelled at him in front of the whole class saying that I didn't even know portuguese and he does and I did better. It was multiple choice on some stuff I had learned in AP World History. I'm not that bad at reading portuguese. I felt really sorry for him.]]]
Free water is also something not common here. If you get water it is in a bottle, or distilled at your house. Our school has a drinking fountain but I haven't managed to work it without getting sprayed in the face. (It shoots water straight up instead of sideways.) I miss free water.
I also miss free green space to run and play and do whatever. On 5 acres in Northfield we did just about anything and we could do anything outside we imagined. We dirtbiked, made homemade water slides, played sports, camped, and did just about any other thing you can do in the country. Here I live in what they call an apartment, because it is above their shop. It was raining today for about 2 minutes, I heard it and lit up like the 4th of July. Now everything here is locked for security purposes (the need to not have to lock your doors and to not have walls all around your property is another thing I have taken for granted) so I couldn't get outside quickly (I have no idea where the keys are...if they left me for a weekend, I'd be locked in here forever. haha). So I rushed to unlock the porch door even though our porch has a roof over it. I couldn't get it and my brother then helped me. I rushed outside hoping to be able to reach it, all I craved was to run around barefoot in it, but I couldn't even reach it. All I could do was smile, smell it, and watch it pour on people that probably didn't want to get wet. I miss that freedom and the green space.
One last thing I took for granted in Minnesota was the air conditioning. We had a system that cooled our whole house and was on all of the time in the summer. Our house was always my perfect temperature (more or less). Here there are only fans and a few air conditioners in bedrooms. I took a nap on the couch today and my brother had to put the fan on me because I was sweating so bad. In fact I am almost dripping in sweat now and it's 7:30 p.m. and I haven't done much. Cold may get annoying, but sometimes it sure would be nice.