Firstly, I need to apologise for not having written this blog sooner. I have been in the amazing city of Rio de Janeiro now for 3 weeks. My time here has been like a rollercoaster: I have not been able to stop and sit down until now.
From the moment I arrived, I fell in love with the city. It is the most beautiful city with an amazing culture, beautiful scenery and friendly carioca’s (locals!). Arriving in a city alone, speaking very little Portuguese and having only one contact was daunting at first, but I settled in quickly.
Before travelling to Rio, I was very nervous because I had been told about how unsafe the city was. I was told that you should not walk alone at night, or stop at traffic lights in certain areas due to robbers. Despite being warned of many things, the city is a lot safer than the general image I had in England. There is a huge police presence here, and as long as you don’t walk into a Favela (shanty town), and are not stupid, you will be safe. There are a few areas that you should avoid, but apart from them, it is very safe. The locals always make sure that the gringos (tourists) are ok and give them help if the need it. Gringos are very easy to tell apart from the locals. I am an obvious gringo because I have blonde hair and blue eyes which is something that is very rare in Brazil.
I am living in an apartment with a Brazilian student. She is 23 and speaks no English. This is good as it means that I am forced to speak Portuguese all the time. This has meant that I can now speak Portuguese quite well! My apartment is in a great location. It is close to work, and it has a gym and pool. It is close to the beach too, but there is an area between the apartment and beach of protected land which has a huge lake that you have to cross. However, I found out that there is a boat for residents that can take you to the other side so that you have easy access to the beach. This is reassuring as the lake has crocodiles in! It is like being on holiday here 24/7!
I am working for GlaxoSmithKline in Rio de Janeiro. The title of my internship here is Market Intelligence and Productivity. The work is tough, but I love it. I get to work at 7.30am and leave at 5.00 pm. GSK is a very good company to work for here. They really care for their employees. A driver is provided every day to take employees to and from work as the offices and factory are in an awkward location. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is also provided free of charge. The food is very good here: at lunch, there is a selection of either hot, local food or a ‘global’ counter which serves a variety of pizza or pasta. Then there is a huge salad bar, pudding counter and fresh fruit. If you are still having trouble finding something to eat, then you can go to the kitchen and a chef will cook you a choice of eggs, chicken or beef! It is like being in a hotel!
I have made many friends at work. I love them! We have fun every day. When the day has been tough, we love going across the road from work for a few Caipirinhas (a local drink here that comes in many flavours)! The people here are so kind and friendly, and they have really helped me settle in. They have been so kind, inviting me to their houses so that I can try the local delicacies here. The local food here includes feijodas (black bean and pork stew), farofa (similar to couscous, but better. I eat it all the time!), brigadeiros (a sweet made from chocolate and condensed milk) and churrasco (meat that has been on the BBQ). I am learning how to make each dish so that I can make them in England.
Since arriving here, I have been very touristy. I went to see Christo Redentor, which was amazing. You can see the statue everywhere you go in the city. I have also been to Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain). The views of the city here were stunning. You can see for miles along the coast. I have also visited all the neighbourhoods in the city. Each neighbourhood is different in many ways. For example, Centro district is filled with beautifully designed buildings and many statues. During the week, it is like being at Oxford Circus, you cannot move due to the hoards of businessmen there. At the weekends, it is deserted. Lapa district is known for its nightlife. There are hundreds of bars, restaurants and clubs.
I love it here. I am seriously considering moving here once I graduate! I will update my blog again as soon as I can.