I successfully cooked my first turkey, and it was a hit - Most of the ingredients I was hoping to find at the supermarket here didn't exist. There was no cranberry sauce, or cream of mushroom soup (green bean casserole), and there certainly wasn't any apple pie, but I did somehow manage to make my own gravy-like sauce, mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, and rolls. It was really nice to cook a meal for everyone, since I have been receiving them for the entirety of my stay here. I am so thankful to be staying with and getting to know this wonderful family. What a blessing it is!
Last night was Viviane's much anticipated Prom/Graduation celebration. It was incredibly elaborate, much more than I had expected, and it was a lot of fun! The party was focused on her and her fellow classmates, but because her graduating class was so small, each graduate was able to bring 15-20 family members to celebrate with them. There was a ton of food and it was open bar: shots of tequila for anyone that wanted them - there is no enforced drinking age here in Brazil...
Everyone had a great time. It was an honor to get to be a part of the family at this event and be there for Vivane. She is such a friendly, loving girl and I have really enjoyed getting to know her.
Hey all! A few of you have been asking for my address here in Cataguases so I wanted to post it for everyone. Keep in mind, it takes about 2-3 (even 4) weeks at times if you send packages/letters via U.S.P.S.
Jenna Sue Kolling
Rua Amarilio Dutra Navarro, 111
36770 - 000
Cataguases - Minas Gerais
I'm glad to be back at my home in Cataguases. It's funny how quickly Brazilians can make you feel at home. Yesterday was my little "cousin" Arthur's 10th birthday and his family threw him a really awesome angry birds-themed party. We ate lots of food, drank some beer, and chatted away. It was nice to get to talk more with some of the extended family, especially the ones that speak English well. As I get to know more and more people here, I understand why it is that everyone who has visited Brazil ends up not wanting to leave. There is a sense of family here that has been lost (at least for the most part) in the U.S. I definitely look forward to being a part of this wonderful family for the next four years and beyond.
Wow, I definitely didn't anticipate the complexity of assimilating into the Brazilian workforce. The fine print on my visa indicated that I had to "register with the Federal Police within 30 days of entering the country" and it sounded so simple, but it turned out to be a maze of bureaucracy. Several trips to different banks, notaries, long waiting lines, fees that were unexpected, and dozens of forms later, I am now set to receive my scholarship every month to do my PhD (huge sigh of relief!!). I really can't thank my friend Taciana enough. To say that I wouldn't have been able to do it without her is an understatement. Not only did I not speak enough Portuguese to have accomplished anything, but the various stops that we made were not close together and we (she) did quite a bit of driving. But after all of the headaches, it's all finally settled!
We also found an apartment to live in together. It's a bigger apartment than the one Taciana currently lives in, still 2 bedrooms, and is much closer to the University, which is definitely good for me since I will have to take the bus to campus. It's a really nice apartment and we lucked out on the the price because it is owned by a fellow PhD student (former professor, older guy that's super nice). We should be set to move into it by late January, which is when I will be going back to Vitoria (I'm now back in Cataguases). It's also a huge relief to know where we will be living and that it's affordable and in a good location - Barro Vermelho (Red Hill) District - which is located on the island, metropolitan area of Vitoria. Yep, I'm living on an island, pretty awesome.
While I was in Vitoria I also met with my advisor a couple of times, Neyval Costa Reis, Jr., and though I am told he is very busy (he also serves as vice-dean of graduate studies for the University) he was very helpful and attentive and thankfully spoke very fluent English - he did his PhD in England. We discussed my plans for the next couple of months while I am here in Cataguases and while the main emphasis will still be on learning Portuguese, he also wants me to present the research that I did during my master's at UNC to the air pollution studies group at UFES. That should be fine, but I am a little nervous about it for some reason. Actually, not as nervous as I am that he also wants me to present a poster at the upcoming 1st annual CMAS (Community Modeling and Analysis Systems) Conference held in South America (Sao Paulo) and it will be on brand new data that I just received. Way to hit the ground running, I guess! I'm actually really excited about this because I've always been better at doing several tasks at once, and not so successful at only focusing on one. I will certainly keep y'all posted on my progress!