December 2009


Feliz Ano Novo - Paulistano Traditions for the New Year..

Posted on 29.12.09

First of all, how was everyone's Christmas? Mine was wonderful! I ate, slept, went to church, slept some more, then ate while chatting with family... oh yeah, then there was coffee... needless to say, it was everything I needed and more (ok, well, not everything... my parents and brother were missing again this year =/).

But now I'm back to work. At least for another few hours, I guess :-)

And as part of my daily ritual when I get in to work, I was going through my Google Reader (follow and share with me!), I came across a New Year's Eve fashion around the world post in a blog I've been following, "yes and yes," and loved the post! First of all because I love everything that has to do with different traditions and cultures and also because one of the mentioned fashion traditions was what we have in Brazil!!

The author of the blog, Sarah Von posted a cute outfit she put together on polyvore that was SO Brazilian:

Which reminded me of how many traditions we DO have on New Year's here in Brazil.

You're supposed to wear white, to have a peaceful and pure turn of the year, the color of your panties determines what kind of year you're going to have (I'm decided on Blue and Green for action and health/justice, respectively!), and they have to be new!... usually people head to beaches where they jump 7 waves come midnight, originally to honor Iemanja, the goddess of the waters according to Orixas Afro-Brazilian tradition. To complete this tradition, some throw rose petals in the water and light candles while watching fireworks over the water.

And then there's the foood (I always have to bring the food in somehow, huh?). Brazilians tend to be quite superstitious this time of year and with food it isn't any different. New Year's Eve isn't a very kosher holiday in Brazil. Traditionally Brazilians eat pork and avoid chicken/turkey or any other form of poultry because eating poultry on New Year's eve makes you go backwards in life? Some people eat pomegranate to attract money in the New Year. Lentils are made for those seeking personal growth. And then there are the grapes! Set aside 3, make a wish for each and then eat them at midnight!

Paulistanos tend to have a pretty default way of celebrating New Year's Eve. Hardly anyone stays in the city, as with most holidays. Whether it be a trip to the beach, whether it be along the coast of SP, southern coast of RJ or northern coast of Santa Catarina, they don't get away from the traffic they face everyday since everyone else is doing it. Since last year I spent the New Year stuck inland in Minas with my family (at least we had the food, haha), I decided to do it up Paulistano style this year.

Some of my friends and I are going camping in Paraty, along the southern coast of Rio de Janeiro, and I'm hoping my next few days will be filled with boat rides, historic downtown visits, fresh fish, waterfalls, tons of laughs, and star filled nights!!

You will also find me jumping waves with grapes in my mouth, a glass of champagne in my hand, and holding on tight to Fábio for our midnight kiss (after I swallow the grapes, of course)!!

What kind of traditions do you have on New Year's Ever?

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year's and God willing, we'll keep seeing each other around here in 2010!!



Feliz Natal!!

Posted on 21.12.09

So I'm in my hometown, Governador Valadares in Minas Gerais to spend Christmas with my family and don't know if I'll have much internet access, so I just wanted to wish all you lovely readers a FELIZ NATAL for those who celebrate, and those who don't, have a wonderful week as well celebrating your day off in your own special way :-)

It's sooo hot here in GV and it still doesn't feel like Christmas at all, even though I spent it here last year as well. It makes it feel even less like Christmas after I spoke to my mom last night and she told me that it snowed two feet in Connecticut on Saturday!! No snow and no parents on Christmas just isn't the same. But I'm slowly but surely learning to spend Christmas in the blazing heat and with the rest of my HUGE family here in Minas!!

This tree is actually in SP on the Estaiada bridge, but it's so pretty, I had to put a picture somewhere, lol.

Hope you all have a blessed week and I'll be back early next week for more updates!!

In the meantime, random, I know, but for political news, did you guys see Aécio Neves, Minas Gerais' governor is out of the race for the Brazilian presidential elections? Anyone have feelings about the 2010 elections at all now that they're definitely less than a year away?



Contemplating Grad School - But Can I?

Posted on 13.12.09

I have been contemplating grad school since before graduating from college. But for a person such as myself with numerous interests, it has been difficult to decide what to do for a graduate degree.

First off, it's a huge investment. Whether in the US or Brazil, grad school is pricey, whether you pay for it now or later.

Secondly, now that I am in Brazil, it's actually become harder to pursue further studies than it was when I was in the US not so legally. hhmm... why's that, you ask?

Because MEC, the Brazilian Ministry of Education, says that I need to get my foreign degree approved by a public university here as a legitimate degree. Sounds easy enough, right? Who wouldn't "approve," a bachelor's degree from a prestigious New England college?

Not that easy... I need to present a handful (ok, two handfuls) of documentation to a public university, in my case, the closest is USP (Universidade de São Paulo), some which I have, others which I would have to get from my college and then approved by the Brazilian consulate in Boston, MA; then pay R$35/1 thousand characters to have it all translated by a registered translator; then prove my proficieny in Portuguese through a test; and then pay a R$1500 fee! Don't believe me? Check it out - Docs Revalidação.

In any case, I can't pursue a "Pós Graduação," or "Mestrado," in Brazil, until I get these requirements in or go through a four year graduate program here.

I guess this is the payback for studying abroad and not staying a local university? hmm...

Out of frustration, I decided to do a little bit of math with a few options for myself.

1. Look for an international program in Brazil. FGV, has a program in International Management which looks pretty cool. I think I'd be able to do it. The 2 year program has a price tag of, R$2.307 x 24 = R$55.368, or about US$32,000. Plus supplies and such. Not bad for US standards, right? But not looking like an option if you look at my bank statement... I have also found another program that looks international and is much less expensive. I'll keep that info to myself for now though and let you know this week once I've gone there to talk to them about it!

2. Study abroad!! But wouldn't it be that much more expensive to study in another country? ... not really. There's this great and inspiring article I found on 7 Countries that are a fraction of US grad school costs, and Brazilian ones for that matter! The University of Barcelona has programs at US$2,000 a year. Two years would be US$4,000 + living expenses of say, US$35k a year = US$74k - but then of course, I'd be working. Let's say I work as an au pair and cut my living expenses... well, away - I'd make about US$7,000 - which would leave US$3,000 for travelling around Europe per year... and, um... I'd be living in Barcelona. The same thing would work if I went to L'École Normale Superieur in Paris where the grad program is 190 Euro a year - and, um... I'd be living in Paris. Here's the kicker - I speak French too!

3. Get another undergrad degree. For now, that's my last option. Besides being too much of a hassle, I would complete it in probably about 5 years after having taken at least one year of vestibular classes so I can actually get in, and... *sigh. It hurts my head to even think about it.

4. Tough up and go through with the whole revalidation thing. That hurts my head to think about too...

I want to elaborate on the whole education in Brazil thing, but I'll do that in another post because this one's lengthy enough!!

beijooss and happy rainy Sunday to you all :-)


Argentina, Pt III - Los Porteños!

Posted on 5.12.09

Last but certainly not least, you know a good people watcher such as myself could not forget to talk about the people I saw and met in Buenos Aires and La Plata. I don't know if you all remember my comparisons between Cariocas and Paulistanos when I went to Rio and also just my description of Cariocas? Those were pretty fun posts to write and so I figured I had to do it with Porteños - people from Buenos Aires. Just a disclaimer - this is all my perception from what I took from my few days in the city and what poeple from there have told me about themselves. Please take no offense, we all have our quirks :-)

So here we go - 10 Interesting/Peculiar Things About Porteños.

1. They're antisocial - Ok, so maybe it's because I've been living in, well.. Brazil for the past couple of years where you'll sit on a bus and the person next to you will tell you the story of their life but in Buenos Aires - nobody talks on public transportation. Not even people who are WITH each other! Nancy and I would sound like such obnoxious Americans chit-chatting away!! But oh well... I don't think they thought we were rude, but it was still awkward...

2. Plain Janes - Porteña women are very laid back with their appearance. I rarely saw any woman wearing makeup, heels, or even anything colorful for that matter. But on the other hand, all the stores were filled with gorgeous colorful prints!! Ironic much?

3. Messi Messy Hair - Messi's clearly not the only Argentine who likes to sport awkward haircuts and I can't not mention the plethora of mullets I saw... Enough said?

4. Orgullo - Porteños are very proud. Obviously the rest of Latin America knows this pretty well. They love their country, their city, and their culture. They think that since their city looks a little bit more like Europe than the rest of the continent, they are superior to all (except Brazilians, but that's my next point). But what I saw firsthand wasn't and "I'm better than you," kind of pride, but a "I take care of my stuff," kind of pride. Especially the cab and bus drivers. In BsAs and La Plata, it's rude to slam a cab door because it's "their car," and in Buenos Aires, the bus drivers pimp their rides!!

5. Caca - Ok, they take care of their stuff except their sidewalks! I thought SP was bad with people who don't pick up after their animals, but in BsAs, it was EVERYWHERE and not just a neighborhood here and there. And nobody seemed to care! In São Paulo, you'll hear a person mumbling a, "filho da puta, why don't people pick up their dog's shit?" here and there, but in BsAs, everyone skipped over it without a groan or mumble!

6. Machismo - Apparently Argentine men, like most latin men, are pretty "macho." They play soccer with their boys, they want to be the breadgivers, etc... But in Buenos Aires, they get together in large groups and go to parillas, order a few bottles of wine, pop champagne, and are all about the man hugging and kissing on the cheek. I would tell you I was exagerating but in my 3 nights in Buenos Aires, I saw this at two different restaurants. And then at the clubs I saw groups of guys dancing with each other... which brings me to my next point...

7. No se baila - Porteños don't dance much. And when they do, it's not necessarily with someone of the opposite sex. At the clubs we went to, there were tonnsss of people on the dance floor - chatting. And goofing around. Jumping here and there. And then dancing to the choreographed Brazilians songs that would play. And then there were the random groups of guys dancing with each other. We found out one of these groups were from Cordoba because they tried talking to us, so maybe it's not a Porteño thing?

8. Les Encanta Brasil - One thing I was actually shocked about was how much they love Brazil. It may be the fact that we've invaded their hotels, hostels and shopping malls for the cheap peso. Or because they look up to our economy and soccer skills. Either way, it was kind of funny considering Brazilians in general, like most South Americans, tend to make fun of Argentines... a lot.

9. Odian a Cristina - They hate their president. And they love their politics. This is one thing I admired about them. Nancy kept telling me how everyone always talks about politics there which is something you don't see in Brazil at all! When we talk about politics it's to talk shit about the corrupt leaders we have and then we don't do anything about it... *sigh.

10. No se Olvide - They don't forget. Anything. The dictatorship (there are trials going on right now and symbols/murals/paintings all over not letting people know they shouldn't forget how horrible it was), their economy and status before 2001 (still bitter about that too...), their soccer stats (Nancy's friend in La Plata is a soccer encyclopedia), and they're ancestory (Italian food is huge there!)....

I guess that's it? Hope you enjoyed my Buenos Aires/La Plata recap!!



La Comida Argentina - Bueníssima!!

Posted on 2.12.09


Since I just finished my dinner, I figured I'd talk about food since I'm not hungry anymore. Therefore, as promised in my last post - Argentina Part Dos - LA COMIDA!!

I made it a point to take a picture of (almost) everything I ate just because I like food that much...

When you think of Buenos Aires and think of food & drinks there, what do you think of? For me it was - Beef, Dulce de Leche (this includes alfajores), and Malbec!

I got in really late on Friday night, and thank God the Porteños dine late because I was starving. We were staying in Las Canitas, a gorgeous neighborhood in BsAs and went to a parilla there, a.k.a., steakhouse called "El Primo," which was recommended by my director (have I mentioned she's from Buenos Aires yet?). Since it was quite late, our waitress was rushing us to order our meals, so I looked at the steak part and pointed to colita de cuadril which is rump tail and was delicious. The way the parilla works is you order your cut of meat and then separately order your side dishes. So we got yummy mashed potatoes and a really expensive bottle of wine (expensive for BsAs at least)... despite the priceyness - the bottle and the exhaustion from the trip put me to sleep right away.

The next day, Nancy took me to get pizza. I ordered a mozzarella and fugazzeta which is kind of like an amazing sweet onion and apparently traditional Argentina. I also got a "soda," which is basically club soda in a fun bottle which obviously took me a while to figure out. After filling our tummies we did some site seeing...

... and theeennn got ICE CREAM! OMG, I had NO IDEA the ice cream in BsAs was sooo uh-MAZING! Nancy and I shared a 1/4 kilo of white chocolate, dulce de leche with chocolate shavings, and frutilla (which is strawberry, I just like saying the word in Spanish) from Freddo which is all over BsAs!

That night, we went to another parilla called "Las Cholas," which was really tasty and REALLY cheap! I ordered a matambrito, which is grilled pork served with french fries. We also, obviously ordered a bottle of Syrah. Apparently the food there is very typical of the Northern part of Argentina, so it was nice to get some variety in Argentine cuisine even though I only went to the Buenos Aires area :-)

The next day, as I mentioned in my previous post on being a tourist in Buenos Aires and La Plata, we went to a tango show for lunch! I ordered this great sandwich on pita bread with turkey, heart of palm, lettuce, tomato, red peppers, and probably more because I had to eat it work a fork and knife!! Since I was really hungry though, I didn't take a picture of it... BUT... I got a picture of the cool plates the place had :-) They're musical notes!

For dinner that night we got fresh pasta from this place Nancy talked about ALL weekend called Broccolino's. It was like she was saving her fave restaurant in BsAs for last... and... it was also hands down, my favorite!! I mean.... look at it:

Also accompanied by Malbec... I had to - when was I ever going to get great wine at that price?

The next night we had more pasta at Nancy's friend Anne's house! It was stuffed ravioli with pesto sauce, arucula leaves, fresh mozzarella, good conversation, and of course... wine :-)

My last meal (technically) on Argentine soil was a very filling panqueque which, yes, is a pancake, but filled with egg, cheese, and a yummy corn sauce. I washed it down with a Quilmes, the only Argentine beer I saw anywhere I went but hadn't tried yet. After having it though - I think I'll stick with their wine... haha

We then rushed and bought sweets (including alfajores which I hadn't even had yet!), dulce de leche and Malbec (hehe) for me to smuggle home to Brazil!! Since my wait at the airport was so long, I had some sweets there!

Ok, now I'm hungry again...

Next up - Part III - Porteños - you don't want to miss this one!!

besotes mis amores!