segunda-feira, 18 de agosto de 2014

6th day at Ambrose: Urban Plunge, Ice Cream, Hanna, Games and Acapella

Today I woke up feeling better and went to participate in a project called Urban Plunge (I was on TV! Haha) which provides us the opportunity to help the community. We, the Internaitonal students, went to a close neighborhood where we could help to paint a woman's house. It may be boring but it's good we are helping. It made me think that we are a community but sometimes we just don't act like that, just keeping repeating that as a cliche. Community means we are a group with similarities. We are all human beings, we all may need each other someday, so why not help our neighbor? That was super cool.
When I came back home, my big buddy JJ woke up and took me to the bank to put money in his checking account so we could order my books online, which costed 116 dollars. I can't be more thankful to my buddy. One interesting thing that surprised me was that we didn't wait for one hour or so... We parked there like a gas station and communticated with a lady through the inter phone. There was also a tube that has a plastic cylinder where you put the money, your bank card and your ID in, and then it's taken until the operator's cabine by air pressure where she can help you. I think it took five minutes to get everything done. This a very efficient and fast thing which would be awesome if we had in Brazil.
Later we went to an ice icream party at BeeHive where I finally found my freshman friend from Ambrose who is a great singer (she sang Adele today! Set fire to the rain). She is a very nice girl, really talented.
Well we came back, I showered and I went to "The Main Event, St Ambrose  Univeristy" which was really fun. It was the first time on campus when people had some stuff going on: water balloons, obstacle race (which hurt my elbow, haha), tug of war starts, karaoke, capture the Flagg, giant jengo, popcorn, some cotton candy and this game bellow:

It was awesome I lost twice (for a girl who I don't know and Danielle's friend. Danielle also sings really well. I met her at QC Family Entertainment with Mabil) and and I won twice (JJ and Ramsey. Woohoo... I killed you guys! Joking).
To make my evening even better, I went to an Acapella concert to listen to an amazing group called "Six Appeal". I enjoyed a lot with some people I met and some friends like my roommate Jordan (who gave us a performance, dancing a lot! Lol) and his girlfriend and my friend Austin who's an International Ambassador. 

Now I'm back, writing this, feeling much better and feeling so blessed and thankful for everything God has done. See you.

5th day in the USA!

My Sunday was pretty nice! For the first time here, I went to St Paul Church which is close to the Campus with Christine and Tom (my American parents!). It was so cool to get together with them. The church is beautiful and I loved the songs. I got so excited when they started singing "Mighty to Save". It was awesome. 
The most interesting and touching part for me it was when we all from church recieved a rock with a cross on it. The pastor highlighted that the rocks don't have any powers, but it's just a reminding tool that God is always with you. For me, being abroad away from my family, the most important people God gave me to take care, is really hard and this meant a lot. Before I came to the USA, for several times I was told that God would be always with me. I know that, but now I have something to keep reminding me all the time.

After that we went to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant where I could have some beans and tacos. They have a really good food. The only funny thing was that I couldn't understand anything that that Mexican woman was saying. It'd be so better if she was speaking in Spanish! Hahaha... Well, anyways... 
I went with them to see their house and meet their cats called Gato and Louie. They only got a little suspicious of me! :)

After that my amazing American mom took good care of me. We found a cool truck where a guy sells some fruits. He drives around and people just go there and buy some fruit and vegetables. This is not common in Brazil, specially because we have these things all the time (Thank God for that!).
She took me to Walgreens where we got some things and some school supplies with coupons (Coupons are something really interesting about the American Culture. Once they have it, they will give you a nice discount for a particular product. For example, we got 12 can of lemonades for something cents. It's so cool) and we also went to get some stuff for their cats at Farm and fleet.

After that we went to a supermarket which would be our Brazilian Hiper Bom Preço. Sometimes things are cheaper in the USA only if you don't think about the currency exchange.
My American mom was so sweet to take care of me and be sure I was ok with everything and ready for my classes that I can't describe how thankful I am and how I appreciate everything she's done for me.

Later that day, we went to Starbucks which is a very American store with products based on coffee. I had a Franpuccino and a brownie. They are really good and I even found a Brazilian album there. By the time we were arriving at Ambrose, we stopped by Whitey's where I had one dip of black cherry icecream.

To finish our time together we went to a Cookout with the new students and we had a nice time with my American parents. That Cookout meant a lot for those Americans. It's a moment which has bittersweet feelings. The kids are grown up going to college and cutting the umbilical cord once again. I kinda felt what they were feeling.

The best part that night was a nice ice breaker with everybody full of games, switching groups according to our similarities such as the month of our birthday, getting to know our tastes of music, food, books, etc. 
By the end of the event I was really tired. I came home with my French friend, Melanie and JJ. I went to hangout for awhile with some people. They were drinking some beverages, ETC (I need to remember this ETC). It was kinda strange for me because I've never been used to be in this kind of environment  before, so... As I had to talk with my sister and mom I left, and that was the first time I felt homesick and (I may not say it because I have a lot of good people taking care of me and I do appreciate it, but I felt) alone.
It was the time that I could only hear my girls and see them from a dark screen and cry with them for awhile and hear some words of wisdom. 

One of the things we need to understand when you're going abroad is that this kind of moments are almost unavoidable. But everything you need to be focused on is that you're abroad and you have to enjoy each opportunity you have, and don't forget who you are and who you want to be. And then I fell asleep... See you guys tomorrow...

sábado, 16 de agosto de 2014

BANK (How to withdraw money in the USA)

Before I come, I made everything I could to not have issues with my bank so then I could get my money effortlessly from the machine. I asked for a high limit, so I didn't have to withdraw money many times and I didn't have to pay a lot of fees for withdrawing (which may vary but it's around 2,50/3 dollars).
I tried several times to get money but I just couldn't. My Saving Account/ Debit Money is a VISA CARD the machine had the PLUS symbol (it needs to have), my card was unblocked for withdraws, but it was not working. I googled it, I tried a lot of things, and then I googled " withdrawing abroad with a BRADESCO 'POUPANÇA' CARD" and saw that the bank just allows to get 600 reais (around 250 dollars) daily! It doesn't matter your limit and etc... So, at least I had money to pay the university. So, it's important to go to your Bank to get to know everything you need and Google it if you have any doubt or call them! See you in the next post!

I AM HERE IN THE USA: first impressions and some adventures.

After leaving my hometown with some tears dropping, I arrived in São Paulo where I was very cold! Haha I went to check in five hours before my flight and there were many people already! I passed by interviewers who asked a bunch of questions about who packed my stuff and etc... 
Then I spent some hours waiting for the time with a family I met in the airport that was saying good bye to a girl who was going for a high school program in New Jersey. Then, when the time came I passed by Federal Police and waited for awhile and then I had to enter the airplane where everything was in English already! It was super cool! I made a friend called Karla Freitas who was going by Science without borders. We had fun! 
I had some cool food in the plane and slept for around six hours and it was really cold!! The temperature outside was -54 degrees Celsius!! After arriving in Chicago we went by immigration and I was expecting a summer but it was as cold as in São Paulo... Plus... I had forgotten my coat in the checked baggage! Lol Thank God I had a another one in my school bag (thanks, prof Lusania).

Passing by immigration the officer asked me how much I had to spend in the country and what I was going to study. He even called me "a smart kid" after knowing I was going to study Internaitonal Business and Modern Languages! Well, I am a smart kid! LOL 

Then it was a nice breaking dawn when I followed some people until the terminal 1 by metro where I had a nice view of the airport. I waited for 3 hours and experienced being immersed in an English environment. It was cool!!! I was surprised for not being scared about the language. :)

I got into the plane for Moline and the flight attendant was speaking quickly and she seemed mad (maybe she was hungry!)... I couldn't understand anything, but I didn't mind! The view was nice and made me think a lot! I thought I would be like screaming and have a huge excitement, but I was in silence observing everything... I felt weird... I don't know why since my dream came true and my goal was achieved! Maybe it would take some time to set in.

After arriving I got more excited! :) I saw my friend Jacqueline and her daughter with a cute sign saying WELCOME TO QC, SHALON! That was nice! I was happy to see them there! 
After that a guy came. It was Austin, an International Ambassador who went to pick me up! He's  really nice! He showed me the city a bit, the campus and we arrived at my dorm!

After entering my room, I met the happiest American I've seen... My roommate JJ! He was welcoming me with another nice friend Ramsey! They sang a famous Brazilian song by Michel Teló " Ai, se eu te pego". It was funny! We talked a little bit and we went to get to know the campus which is BEE-AUTIFUL and later JJ took me to get my ID which I can not lose, otherwise I'm not getting into any building! Haha it's good for security though. 
We talked a lot, then I unpacked all my stuff and met my another roommate Joe! Later that day, I finally met my roommate Jordan! :)
That day I went to a picnic when had to opportunity to see a school (which looks like a mansion) and we had some food and saw the cutest thing: kids speaking in English.

The another day I met some of the guys' friends which was great and I went to the International Orientation. A lot of nations represented by students were there! I really felt as an International Negotiations Student! There was also a German guy and some people were just mocking me because of the World Cup 2014! Hahaha 
Another cool International Ambassador called Leah took me for a tour (she's super nice!) and we all went for lunch when I found my academic adviser, Dr. D who was also talking about the World Cup haha, and during lunch I made another friend from France called Melanie who I practice French with! :) (by the way, I already have homework, assignments, to do before classes! That was crazy for me because is different from my reality, but it's cool though.)
During our break when I was going to check the books I had to buy for classes, I found an Ambrosian friend I met in Brazil. It was awesome to see Alysia again!
On buying books at Ambrose they are really expensive!! Only my Spanish book was over 200 dollars so I gave up and my awesome roommate JJ helped to get them on Amazon... All of my four books costed only 115 and something dollars!! 
After the orientation we went to Target where I went shopping for the first time! It was interesting but I was worried because I could not withdraw my money (I'll talk about it in another post), blessedly I had some cash with me! 
We went to some places around the university also to get to know some departments such as Computer Lab, Tutoring, if we have difficulties, etc... We recieved some representatives of institutions (bank, cell phone company, etc.) to get things done! 
And also there was a pizza party where I met some people from Middle East and some cool guys who KNEW SOME PORTUGUESE! My roommates came too and we chatted for a but with my adviser Cathy!

Joe showed me the Game Room where we played ping pong and pool table. We talked about Brazilian issues, the World Cup, we played for a couple minutes with a guy called Safe! Yea, Safe! 
Cathy gave us some Pizza to take home and after leaving Joe took me to a tour around the campus.
We stopped but Rogalski Center where he played amazingly the piano. We even sang "Seasons of Love" by Rent together. HE IS SUPER TALENTED! 
Today is Saturday and I went Davenport downtown with my lovely friend Jacque where I could see a lot of American things. 

We went to a museum called FIGGE, suggested by Jacque's daughter, Dasha, where Ambrosians can enter for free. It was beautiful but there were some creepy sculptures! Haha ... we went for lunch at an Indian restaurant and had some cool food and we talked about business and work experience! :)

Then we saw that River Roots Live Show and a Fair was going on... There was a rock band playing super well, places for the kids to play, and FOOD!

What caught my attetion, besides the junk food and the strong smell of it, was that everything was SUPER BIG, FAMILY SIZE! They were having huge meals, I don't know how they could handle it! American loves big things when we talk about food. Today morning, for example, after the tour I went to a Cookout and I got an hamburger, some salad and fries and I sad I was hungry. Some Americans said: "Really? That may be a Brazilian type of hungry". It was funny but interesting how the meals are so fatty and huge. If you don't want to gain some pounds, control yourself!

We went to the "Bridge to nowhere" and we came back after having much fun.

I arrived in my dorm when I met some of my roommates friends and the German guy. One thing I realized is that American college students curse a loooooot! Every single sentence may have a "f*uck" or "sh*t". I thought it was a stereotype, but it's true! It bothers me a little since I have a Christian and a Conservative family background, but I need to learn how to deal with this situations that take me from my comfort zone (I guess!) NAND we have this a lot in Brasil too, so...

Well, anyways, after that my buddy JJ went through a very complicated situation. We went to have lunch at the cafeteria and when we were coming back we met this Polish guy, I think. He was smoking tabaco and JJ, Ramsey, Frank and I was trying to be friendly and nice to welcome him. When the Director of our Housing Department saw us and she said out loud: "Hey, sir. You're not allowed to have tabaco on campus"! I was kinda feeling that something was about to happen! The worse part was that she recognized JJ and said something that apparently she thought he was smoking too and incentiving us to smoke too. HE WAS NOT, actually, WE WERE NOT SMOKING... Damn it! The guy made things worse and he said that that was not tabaco... come on!! Of course we all knew it was tabaco! He could just say: Sorry I didn't know I was not allowed, anything... So, we left I felt bad for my buddy. I could see he was worried and pissed off too! The guy was stupid!! JJ called her and explained the situation and apparently he was fine. I do hope so! He doesn't deserve any punishment, he was/ we were trying to be nice!

Well, after this awful part of the day, I showered and went to QC Family Entertaiment for bowling with the International Group!
I was nervous for being my first time bowling but I had a strike after my first attempt. You can call me Mr. Strike Spare! :)
It was fun. I spoke Portuguese to this guy from Venezuela, called Damil. He knows bad words a lot, but he can speak Portuguese decently! Hahaha. He keeps saying to me: "Hey, Filho! Beleza!?" It was soooo good to practice Portuguese with him.

We finished bowling and all the pizza and we went to a LASER TAG. That was freaking awesome! We got into a dark room got some jackets and guns and entered a scenario where I had to shoot the other time. It was awesomeeeeeeee! I went there twice. By the end of the game I was trying to kill people from my own team though! Hahahahaha
I had so much fun that can not put into words! I just had the one of the best days of life!

segunda-feira, 4 de agosto de 2014

Important Info: Check Everything Over and Over Again

Well, in one week from today I'll be headed to the United States, so this week is the time I have to check everything multiple times: 
-Army Card - card which I don't know how to say that in English;
-Money (remember that Brazilian can only travel with a specific amount of money in cash without declaring at Federal Police, which is 10.000,00 (ten thousand) reais in national OR international currency)
-Documents from the university;
-Road trip tickets proof (you HAVE to buy road trip even if you think of staying any longer, otherwise you may not be allowed to enter the country;
-RG and CPF (Brazilian IDs);
-Voting Card (I don't know how to say that in English either. But, it's the card you use for voting for someone who's running for Brazilian government positions);
International immunization records;
-Bank Cards and Statements;
-Receipts that you bought your laptop, ipad, etc in Brazil and not in the USA, because when you come back you may have to pay 1/2 of the amount of money that exceeded 500 dollars of purchases while you were in the USA at the Custom house/ Pay Duties. You should check more about this info on );

In short, check everything!!! One tip I can give you is to go in each room of your house looking for something you can't forget. BE SURE you have everything with you, once you're away from your town it's hard to go back to get things you forgot. Another tip is getting a folder where you can put all the documents
ANOTHER IMPORTANT THING: scan your documents and send them to your email (and some relatives' also). In case of losing anything it's gonna be much better for you to have copies of them. Take some copies with you, so then you won't need to take all the original documents with you all the time. Take a look at this email I recieved from my adviser with some newsworthy info about my trip:
"In a very short time, you will begin your journey to the US and to the St. Ambrose campus!  Before you go, I wanted to give you a short overview of what will happen when you enter the US for the first time as a student visa holder!!

The immigration officials at the airport will want to see your Passport with the VISA, and your Form I-20(F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa).  Remember to keep these original documents in a safe place and easily accessible.  DO NOT keep these papers in your checked baggage.

Overview of Immigration Processing at the Airport

  • A Customs and Border Protections (CBP) Officer will look at all of your documents and supporting materials, and ask you basic questions about your plans.
    • If there are any questions about your record, you may be asked to go to secondary inspection so that the officers can complete a more thorough inspection of your documents and record.   DO NOT be alarmed if they ask you to go to secondary inspection, it is quite common to be asked to do this.
  • The CBP officer will stamp your passport to indicate duration of status ("D/S"), your nonimmigrant status (F-1 or J-1) and your arrival date.
  • CBP will issue an electronic I-94 number, which you can print for yourself

It is also a good idea to make at least two sets of copies of these documents: one copy to leave with your family before you depart and one copy to give to your school officials. Here is a list of the important immigration documents:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status” or DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status”

After checking everything and being sure you have everything that you need, just enjoy your trip!
See you all! 

sábado, 2 de agosto de 2014

Butterflies in the stomach.

"That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it." Isaiah 41:20

Dear Heart, keep calm...

Dear Eyes, hold it ...

Dear Body, no need to shake like that...

Dear Mind, be focused...

Dear Myself, be happy...

Dear Friends, keep praying...

Dear Family, we are one!

Dear Everybody, behold what God has done!

Dear God, be with me... 

Dear God... I'm in your hands. I'm yours. You're mine.