I arrived in Campinas on Wednesday morning last week. Since then, I've been exploring the city carefully, and leaving my apartment from time to time to take a look around. I'm feeling a lot of mixed emotions right now, and it may help me to write it all down, hence starting this blog.
My apartment is on a one way street in the middle of town. The neighborhood is called Cambui, and it's a very charming place. I think the most attractive aspect of the city is amount of greenery everywhere. From my window, I can see a dozen skinny palm trees that reach the 8th floor of the apartment building across from me. There are also lots of tropical flowers and trees, and it's hard to believe that it's winter here. Right now it is about 27 degrees Celsius, about 79 degrees Fahrenheit. I can definitely get used to a warm climate like this. Everyday has been really pleasant, and I've enjoyed walking around in a tank top during what is supposed to be the coldest month of the year. There are also a lot of parks around town. So far, I've discovered about 6 in a ten block radius. I can walk just about everywhere, but will be happy to learn to use the bus system to get to work once I start my job (about 4 km away), and the mall in the same area of town ( I need to buy some stuff for my apartment that I haven't found around my area). I also want to get a bicycle, but am waiting till I get back to do that.
I've made two friends so far. One is named Vitor, and he's the step son of my boss' secretary, Ivete. He's very friendly, has lived in Campinas his whole life, and attended a German school from k-12 grade. He works at the school I am going to work at in August as a 3rd grade teaching assistant. He's trilingual, and his English is pretty perfect. He took me to a restaurant named Fellini for lunch on Thursday, and I had a really good time getting to know him. He's 23 like Luc, and wants to be an actor. He intends to move to Sao Paulo in the next couple of years. He's also very good friends with another teacher who lives in my building. Her name is Meghan and she teaches 3rd grade. She found me on Facebook, and has been really great about giving me tips on where to go and putting me in contact with people. She seems very friendly as well, and I'm looking forward to meeting her.
Like I said, I like the city, and like it more and more every time I venture out and explore a little. Campinas is much bigger than I imagined, and I guess that's a good thing. I think the only thought that worries me is how to meet people that I can effectively communicate with. I would love to meet some other English speakers, especially people from countries other than the US. So far I've had trouble finding anyone that speaks English. Part of me feels like moving here has isolated me a bit too much, and I hope to be proven wrong. Still, I have heard that Campinas has tons of foreigners, and I may just need more exposure to the nightlife and bars to find them.
It has been an interesting week, all of the foreign hire teachers are on vacation, so I've pretty much been on my own. It has forced me to get my apartment in order, and learn my way around my neighborhood. I have already found two grocery stores, and cooked myself several meals. I've also been to two restaurants, even though it has been a bit difficult to order. I have to use Portanhol, which is the Brazilian term for Spanish speakers mixing Spanish and Portuguese to communicate. It's much better than being completely lost, that's for sure.. People get the general idea of what I am trying to say, which is great. Still, I can't wait to start my Portuguese classes at InterClass.
In my spare time it has been more of a struggle to stay entertained sans friends. I found out quickly that I will no longer be able to use American TV shows as a way to pass the time. Hulu, Netflix streaming, and all the video streaming on major TV networks within the US do not work here! I get a message that says they don't have international rights. Goodbye Office,goodbye 30 Rock, goodbye Glee, goodbye Top Chef....I guess this will force me to be more productive, to read more, and to spend more time outside. I know I'll be able to see movies in English, but I am waiting on my Brazilian ID number to get a membership to the video store. As far as TV, I have basic cable, but mostly everything is in Portuguese. Law and Order is shown what seems like ALL DAY EVERYDAY on the Universal channel (I've watched 5 episodes in the last three days). They also show Heroes. That's about it! In a way I'm happy this will ween me off television. I think it will also force me to live more simply, both as a consumer of "things", and entertainment.