Beginnings: São Paulo

1 Jul

For those of you that don’t know, I recently left the little city of Murcia that had been my home for the past year and I moved to São Paulo, which will be my home for the next three months.

As soon as I arrived at the airport I found myself interpreting for a Chinese tourist to help him understand the portuguese-speaking airport staff in Brazil. It made me happy to know that my Chinese skills were making themselves useful, even on the opposite side of the planet from China. From the airport, it wasn’t too difficult for me to get a bus, to take the metro, and then to walk a little ways to my hostel. I was pretty proud of myself, because I got there using only portuguese to communicate, and without any internet on my phone.

Although I am staying at the 3Dogs Hostel, I’m not a paying guest. Instead, I am doing an exchange. Several weeks ago I emailed this hostel to offer them my time as a multilingual worker in exchange for a free bed. They often except this type of ‘work away’ volunteer, and they accepted me. Because I speak various languages, I am working at reception, while the monolingual volunteers tend to do cleaning duty or maintenance.
The hostel itself is not bad, although I am working a bit more than I would like. It isn’t as nice as the hostels I’ve seen in my travels in China, nor the hostel I stayed in when I visited Zaragoza. It has a, easy-going, relaxed environment though, and the owners are friendly. They own two hostels in São Paulo, and I sleep and live at the more relaxed hostel, and I work at the party hostel. Now that I’ve gone through a few days of training to be the morning person at Beats Hostel, my normal work schedule is from 6am -12 noon. That is only 6 hours a day, but it still isn’t much fun to wake up so early. It means that I want to go to bed early every night. On the bright side, when I shower in the morning, I have the communal showers of the hostel all to myself, and it is much nicer to have that privacy. It takes a 30-40 minute walk to work, which gives me time to listen to my language learning podcasts and to listen to my audiobooks. Once I arrive at Beats, the work that I do isn’t very difficult. Because I work in the morning I only have to set out breakfast and clean it up afterwards. If someone wants to check in or to check out, that is not hard to do, so my job is quite simple. Many of the guests at the hostel are in the city to party, and sometimes it is so slow and quiet in the mornings that I can check and write emails or use Anki to study. So although I’ve not earning any money, I do easy work and I have all my afternoon free.
So far I haven’t been using my afternoons very well. I had hoped to do some different activity each afternoon, and I’ve made a list of things that I want to see in the city, but I haven’t started yet. I have been adapting to my work, my schedule, and to a new rhythm of life. Also, there has been near-constant rain for the past few days, which is a great de-motivator for outdoor exploration. I haven’t been wasting my time, though: I’ve communicated online with ten or fifteen local Brazilians who are interested in meeting for a language exchange. I had my first English-Portuguese language tandem yesterday, and it went really well. He is similar to me in that he is very intellectually curious about many different things, and we talked about leadership, mirror neurons, social networks, religion, and emotions. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the weekly Couchsurfer meeting for Sao Paulo, and I am very excited to go and meet people. Then I have arranged to meet several people for language exchanges on Wednesday and Thursday, so I think that my first few days of organizing and emailing are starting to pay off.
Now I just need to get comfortable with the city, practice my portuguese, meet some friends, and start looking for a job that can will pay me and give me a work visa. Maybe working in a hotel that has many Chinese guests, working in international trade, working with a Chinese company in Brazil, working with a tourism company, or working with a Brazilian company that cooperates with a Chinese company. In a couple of weeks I’ll start trying to network and to seriously look for a job (or an internship) here in São Paulo.
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