Bella Bobrow: Just don’t call it soccer

Bella Bobrow

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To truly start experiencing Brazil, one must first experience futebol. Not just the game (the rules themselves are irrelevant) but the passion Brazilians have for the sport.

On Sunday, I went to a futebol game (also my first ever sports game) with a friend. At the gate, the policewoman tried to confiscate my “flammable” book, but gave up on trying to communicate with me and just told me to hide it. My faith in the Brazilian police force is wavering.

Everyone was super pumped up, myself included! The fans were very protective of their teams, and whenever the referees made calls, they would yell insults ranging from stinging expletives to “potato!” Things got fierce in the middle of the game, but luckily it was a small enough team that the crowds weren’t dangerous. Brazilians really do love their futebol.

Just like any country, the culture values different things. For example, they value sports. Unfortunately, that same respect is not given to traffic laws.

Traffic laws are less laws and more suggestions. The cars act as if the few and far between stop signs don’t even exist. The bikers are doing THIS all the time. This morning I saw one driving on the sidewalk, dodging pedestrians. But the pedestrians don’t really know what to do either; I don’t think they ever learned how to read traffic lights.

The other day, some friends and I had to cross a decent-sized road. Was there a stop sign? A light? No, just a meek crosswalk. You just have to run when there’s a lull in traffic. I’m probably more upset about this than I should be.

Another thing that’s different is the extreme amount of physical contact. Brazilians have no “personal bubble.” When you see a friend (of any gender), it’s expected to give a hug and kiss on the cheek. I don’t think it’ll ever get less uncomfortable for me, but it’s nice that everyone is so friendly.

If I chose one word to describe the culture, it would be “affable.” Or maybe “brigadeiro.”

Most of the kids at my school are global travelers, a great many have been exchange students as well. They fondly tell me of their travels in Canada, Australia, England. In fact, the US used to be the destination of choice, but our government made it really hard for Brazilians to get a visa. Then the Brazilian government retaliated, making it a full-time job for Americans like me to get visas.

The teachers are starting to expect me to do work in school now, which I suppose is fair. I’ll write another time about how their education system works, because it’s wonky.

One of my classmates told me, “I know this must be a bit of a culture shock. This school is probably way more liberal than you’re used to.” (Haha.)

(It’s a Catholic school.)

With respect to my previous post, it’s been pouring for the past few days. The floods have caused some destruction, but on the whole, it’s helped the region. The problem is far from over, but it looks like the reservoirs can last a few more weeks.

The first time it rained, I ran outside to enjoy it, like any normal Californian would. “Why are you outside, it’s raining!” my host ‘sister’ yelled.

Duh, “Because it’s raining!” Apparently rain is not as exciting or Instagram-able here.

A member of Arcade Fire, Will Butler, just released a song about São Paulo’s drought. Give it a listen.

What do you think?