A Travellerspoint blog

The last few days

Since I last posted, the time has truly flown by and just like that I am finished with my first semester at Eller and the best summer of my life.
After my second set of finals and to conclude my time in Brazil, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro for three nights. Leaving Fortaleza was bittersweet as it was our home for two months, but we were all very excited and anxious for Rio.
We arrived in Rio around 10 PM with many expectations and questions. The weather was colder than what I was used to in Fortaleza but it was nice to be in a cooler climate. We had done some research on nightclubs to check out so that night we were able to get a taste of the Rio nightlife, which as you can imagine was pretty fun.
After a great first night out in Rio, we woke up early to visit some landmarks that Rio is famous for. The first site we went to was the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks all of Rio. We took a train up to the enormous statue and then proceeded to take touristy pictures among the many tourists up there.
Then we got a huge lunch (grateful for Brazilian steakhouses) and made our way to the Sugar Loaf Mountain cable car, which took us to the top of SugarLoaf Mountain. I was amazed with how much of the city I could see from up there and this is where I decided Rio has some of the nicest lookout views in the world, well at least that i’ve ever seen in person.
The next morning me and a group of friends went hang gliding. Yes, I went hang gliding. For those of you who don’t know, hang gliding is when you are attached to a pair of fifteen foot wings and run off of a very high cliff and then glide in the air just like a bird would.
Dont worry, I was also attached to an instructor who had over thirty years of experience! After soaring through the sky for over fifteen minutes, we cruised over the ocean and landed smoothly along the beach.
Although I have a fear of heights, I was luckily able to overcome that on this trip.
When that excitement was over, we went to see more of the city and eventually made our way to the Olympic megastore. As you can imagine, this is a huge store that sells all Olympic apparel and goods. That was a fun shopping experience because of the excitement and chaos in the air for the Olympics. The city was preparing for the games by cleaning up the streets, setting up bleachers, and making Rio suitable for the Olympics coming up in weeks.
After a long last night of the trip, we woke up to explore more of the city and country for one last time as that was the last day of the program. We went to the Escadaria Selarón, which are a set of stairs that are covered beautifully with mosaic tiles. This placed was filled with tourists. The last thing that we did was visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio, which was this massive structure with stained glass windows. Once we got back to the hotel it was sadly time to load the busses and head to the airport. It was time to go home and there were a lot of mixed feelings going around about this. At this point, I was feeling satisfied and fulfilled with the things that I was able to do on the trip.
It was sad to leave the country we called home for two months. It was sad to leave the place that made such an impact on my life but it was good to know that I would come home feeling like I had grown up and matured some.
I am lucky to have met such cool, full hearted, spirited, smart, passionate, and foreign people. I learned so much from every person and experience that I encountered and plan on using this knowledge to motivate me to reach my goals in the future.
I appreciate the life I have in the United States more than I ever have as I was able to participate in a culture so rare to me. I am so thankful to have lived and learned in Brazil and truly experience something so unique. I have made friends and memories that I will never forget.
I am going to miss that place but I know when I am able to go back to those cities and that country, I will have a huge appreciation and love for it. This trip has taught me a lot about myself, it has taught me to appreciate every moment, and it has opened my eyes up to the promising opportunities that lay ahead for me.
Now that it has been a week since I have gotten home and I have finally gotten over my jetlag, I have been able to process the time and experiences I just had in the past two months. I have begun to unwind and relax before I go back to school in a couple of weeks. Not much back home has changed but reality has sunk back in. I have gotten back to my usual summer activities of surfing, swimming, hanging with friends and now trying to figure out my next steps towards the future I want to have. I have started to think deeper about what exactly I would like to do with my career and I am in the process of looking for internships to take this year.

I want to thank everyone for following my blog this summer!
I hope to continue this blog when I am able to travel and experience more of this beautiful and mysterious world again.
Please pass this link around to anyone traveling or even thinking about traveling. Traveling is inspiring and necessary to understanding this world.
I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer.

Until the next adventure,

Posted by evanminas 14:41 Comments (0)

Another Weekend in Paradise

Hey everyone!
As you can imagine, i’m having a terrible time out here. Just kidding, i’m having the time of my life to say the least! We already had our first tests in Management and in MIS. They went really well and I plan on finishing strong in all of my classes. Our final exams will take place next week before we depart for Rio.

For our third business visit last Friday, we got to visit a water factory. The Indaia water company is the number one water factory in Brazil. It was really fascinating to see the process of how water bottles, soda, and energy drinks are made and filled. We all had a valuable time visiting the huge factory and learning what goes into being the number one water company in a country.

After having a fun time on Friday and Saturday in Fortaleza, we left for Canoa Quebrada early sunday morning. Canoa is another beach town located only two hours away from Fortaleza.

The first night in Canoa, we relaxed and walked around the town. Broadway street is the main part of the town with gift shops, restaurants, and bars. The town was similar to Jericoacoara except it was bigger and not as remote. Plus, you couldn’t even walk around barefoot (best part about Jeri) however, we were able to manage walking around with shoes on.

The next day we all woke up with a lot of patriotism as it was the 4th of July!
A group of us decided to rent ATV’s and go on a tour through the dunes. Instead of riding an ATV, I decided to hop on a dirt bike. After a few minutes, I quickly got the hang of it and was having a great time. Don’t worry, I was going the speed limit! The tour guides rode us up to the top of a dune that had 10 different zip lines to ride. I chose to go on the zip line that went into a body of water because it was hot and I needed to cool off. After a nice swim and a rest, we rode back to the beach to finish the tour. The surprise zip lines were a blast and i’m very happy that I went on that excursion

After an incredible time riding on the beach and through the dunes, I made my way down to the beach to join the rest of the group where we were celebrating the 4th!
I had a great time swimming, relaxing, and hanging around celebrating the 4th with my fellow Americans. Some locals asked to play a game of soccer (Brazil Vs. USA), which we ended up winning. The game wore me out but it was worth it for that win!

Our director for the program planned a special barbeque with all the American fixings to give us a 4th of July experience to remember forever. She even surprised us by giving us sparklers to light and then surprised us with a private firework show that was almost as good as a Disneyland firework show if not better. It was really amazing and we were all very thankful that she put in the effort to give us that celebration.

At the beginning of the trip to Canoa, my roommate met a stray dog and named it Pablo. Don’t worry, the dog was super friendly and soon enough the entire group fell in love with Pablo.

Pablo was given a shower, food, water, and some TLC. We were happy that we were able to help this dog out. When it came time to leave, Pablo was there to walk us down to the busses. It was easy to tell that he loved the attention that we gave him while it lasted. It was sad to leave Pablo and the amazing town of Canoa, but we all know we have to hit the books hard for the next two weeks before we leave for Rio, which is where the program will come to an end.

As it comes down to the last two weeks of this incredible program, It feels pretty bittersweet that I will soon be leaving Brazil. I am almost ready to leave, but I know that I will start to miss this place as soon as I get home.

It is hard to explain how lucky I am to have been able to do this. I finally understand the true meaning of studying and living abroad.

I plan to post at least one more time before the end of my trip. I am excited to tell you all how the last two weeks go and all about my experience in Rio!
I hope you are all happy, healthy, and enjoying the summer from wherever you are.
I can’t wait to see all of my family and friends when I get back to LA the morning of July 20th!

Mucho Obrigado para ler! (Thanks alot for reading)

Posted by evanminas 13:16 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Sorry its been so long!

I know it has been a few weeks since you guys have heard from me. Don’t worry, I’m safe and having a great time but a lot has happened. This post might be kinda long but I hope you find it a good read.

I’ll start with the trip to the Amazon jungle. When we landed in Manaus, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew that the weekend was going to be one to remember. After a thirty minute bus ride through the city, we got to the dock where we loaded onto a boat that was going to take us to our hotel which was floating in the Rio Negro (Black River). The hotel had a pool, great food, and even set up karaoke for us throughout the weekend. The first morning in the amazon we got back on the boat to go see the meeting of the waters, where the Amazon and Black Rivers meet. Then we went to a small flea market that had this bridge leading into the jungle. This bridge was something you would see on the show Planet Earth or something. Further down the bridge was a man holding a sloth and another man holding a three foot boa, so of course I had to hold them. Later that evening, we got onto smaller boats to go fishing for piranha. Although the only thing I caught was a catfish, I was pretty happy that I was able to catch something using a bamboo stick and some fishing line. The second part to that fishing trip was when our guide was going to catch a caiman (alligator). Yeah, the dude was ready to jump into the river to catch it just to show us. We all thought he was crazy but that is just a normal day in the Amazon for those people.

The next day we were taken down the river to go swimming with pink dolphins. The dolphins were not as pink as i thought they were going to be but it was pretty cool to be swimming in that river with those animals among many others. The same day, we were able to visit an indigenous tribe in the jungle. Although it was a popular tourist site, it was interesting to see how that tribe still upkeeps with their culture and religious practices. The morning of our last day in the Amazon, I woke up with a few others EARLY, to watch the sunrise over the Black River. After the eventful morning of waking up early, our group went on a jungle hike through the dense trees to learn about some plants and animals. It was quite breathtaking and a great way to end the trip in the Amazon. The Amazon truly blew my mind and I still can’t believe that I had the chance to travel there. I could talk about the Amazon for a while so I guess you’ll have to ask me about it in person. I definitely plan on visiting the amazon jungle again someday.

After the weekend in the Amazon, we heard that the Olympic Torch was going to be traveling through Fortaleza outside of our school. We were all excited and willing to wait to see the Torch be passed along as it had been traveling all the way from Greece. With the excitement of the torch, there was also commotion caused by rioters. To say the least, it was quite a scene and I am very lucky that I was able to see the Olympic Torch from ten feet away.

For our service day, we were taken to an Elementary School that was located next to a Favela neighborhood. The morning started off pretty rough as we went out the night before and were asked to paint the playground equipment as well as other things around their school. After some of us got done painting, I was able to go into a classroom and spend time with a class full of students and their teacher. All of the kids and their teacher were so welcoming and very happy that we wanted to hang out in their classroom. We were able to teach them some English and they were able to teach us some Portuguese. It was good to know that we made a difference for those kids that day. At the end of the day, it was harder to leave than I thought it was going to be but I’m glad I got to experience that.

The following week of school was a tough one. With having our Marketing final and Case competition within days of each other, none of us got much sleep that week. All teams in the case competition presented really well and I couldn’t stop thinking about how cool the project actually was, after all the work was done. In groups, we all presented our business ideas to judges (our professors) for bringing a company to Fortaleza. Case comp taught all of us a lot on what exactly goes into opening up and running a business. The project only gave us a taste of what many of us plan to be doing in the future.

As soon as we finished our tough week at school, we were rewarded with an unforgettable trip to Jericoacoara. Jeri is a small beach village that was about a four hour bus ride from Fortaleza. Then, another hour ride on the back of pickup trucks to drive through the dunes to this beach village. This beach is one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. As soon as we got there, I made my way to the beach (50 feet from my room) and rented a paddle board. The water there was clear as can be and I could see the bottom of the ocean a couple feet down. Before I knew it, my time with the board was up and I had already fallen in love with the town. I couldn’t wait to see more of it and finally relax after a busy first month here. As a group, we hiked up to the top of a huge sand dune and watched the sunset drinking Brazil’s staple drink, the Caipirinha.

In Jeri, most people sleep on hammocks and never wear shoes! To adapt to the culture and lifestyle there, I slept on a hammock outside and walked around barefoot all weekend. We spent the first full day there riding through the sand and beach on dune buggies. We were taken to see a few landmarks and then we were taken to Paradise lagoon, which is the definition of paradise. It turns out that this lagoon is a common background photo that Apple uses in it’s products. Riding on the buggies was a great time and is definitely the thing to do when in Jeri. Later that night, our directors set up a bonfire on the beach for us and then we eventually migrated over to the beach parties that the locals held on the weekends. I had a great time and I can’t wait to revisit that piece of paradise.

The night after we returned from Jeri, most of us attended a soccer game that took place in a World Cup stadium. Although the stadium was mostly empty, I could still feel the excitement in the atmosphere. It was crazy to think about the amount of people that stadium held at some of the World Cup games.
The stadium was located in the middle of a Favela neighborhood. To me, the stadium felt a bit out of place as the beautiful stadium was only built a few summers ago in that neighborhood, just for the World Cup. I can’t even imagine how the people living in that neighborhood felt when that stadium was coming up.

Since we had an amazing time last weekend, it has been hard to get back into the rhythm of school. Since I last posted, I have completed both the marketing and business communication classes. Now, we are already back on the school grind. Whoo! For the remainder of the trip, I will be taking a management course and a management information systems course (MIS). In addition, our Brazil econ class will carry over into this session for another week. So far, I have really enjoyed learning this material as it is finally stuff that I want to learn, not just stuff that I have to learn.

With less than four weeks left on my program, I can truly say that I made the right choice taking this opportunity .I’ve grown to love this city, state, and country more and more every day. In the next few weeks, I’m excited to see more of this country and enjoy the remaining time I have here.

Well, that’s it for now!
Thanks for reading,

Posted by evanminas 16:31 Comments (0)

The First Few Days

It is hard to believe that I am across the world in one of the most beautiful beach cities in the world. I know it has been over a week since I have gotten here but I have barely had the time to sit down and write about the experiences that I have been having out here. The reality of this program set in this week as we have already had two quizzes in Econ and a midterm in Marketing. Aside from the large workload that this program has, I have been able to explore this city while making some incredible new friends.
To say the least, I have been in culture shock. Between only knowing a few words of Portuguese and constantly applying bugspray, I have truly begun to see how the people of Brazil live. Communicating with the locals has been tough as only 5% of the people speak English. I have been able to get by using the google translate app. I have finally begun to get used to the 85% humidity and warm weather!
As much as I have loved eating at our favorite restaraunt Dom Churascos multiple times a day (great food and drinks), I have started to cook my own meals in our apartment. The feeling of being on vacation is starting to fade as I realized that I am here for school and my money is limited. My roomate and I have decided to cook most of our meals at home so that we can save money to do fun things like go to clubs, bars, surf, paddle board, banana boat and try new foods on the weekends.
It has been difficult to get used to the feeling of being foreign. Everywhere a group of us walks feels like we are animals being watched at the zoo. I now have a better understanding of how foreigners must feel. Also, the fact that the technology here is emerging has not been so helpful when trying to complete online homework as the WiFi is terribly slow and unreliable. Our hotel has not been able to provide us with a comfortable area to study in, so it has been a challenge to study but we have all been making it work.
I have noticed that Brazilians do anything they can to conserve energy. For example, the lights in most hallways are controlled by a motion sensor and everything is unplugged from the outlets by the maids when the rooms are cleaned. Yes, we do have maids that clean our rooms...very lucky.
To say the least, I have already learned alot about the Brazilian culture and about the culture we have in America. I am very lucky to have grown up in America.
This past Wednesday, we were able to visit the Esmaltec factory, which produces household appliances such as washers and refridgerators. It was amazing to see how well the workers are treated, yet paid less than R$800 a month. This company along with a major water company and the University of Fortaleza are all owned by the same guy. Talk about a businessman! After that, we went on a tour of a newspaper factory, TV and radio station. Very cool experiences that many people do not get to do.
Today was a national holiday here, so there was no school and most businesses were shut down. After a quick meeting with my team and professor regarding our business project, we hit the beach for a few hours and enjoyed the sunset.
This weekend, we are going to the second largest waterpark in the southern- hemisphere which has one of the largest waterslides in the world!
Next week, more components to our project are due and we already have our second midterm in Marketing. More details on the project and on my amazing trip will come soon.
I hope you are all doing great and I look forward to telling you more about these experiences in person.
Thanks for reading!

Posted by evanminas 19:01 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Before the Trip

As I sit here on the night before I embark on my trip, I cant stop thinking about how lucky I am to be able to take this opportunity. For those of you who don't know, I will be studying abroad in Fortaleza, Brazil for ten weeks. I will be taking five business courses and receiving fifteen credits for them. I am not feeling too anxious and truly, the excitment has not fully pinched me yet. I am very curious to see how the trip begins tomorrow afternoon at LAX when I will meet up with some of my friends to fly to Dallas. From Dallas we will fly to Sao Paulo and then off to Fortaleza. This will be the first blog that I write, so please bear with me. I will try to post as much about my trip as possible to keep all of you informed of my safety and thoughts along the experience.

Posted by evanminas 11:25 Comments (0)

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