Silly Gringa!


My trip to Brazil was the first time I had left the US in 3 years. Apparently, my travel skills had gotten a bit rusty. I made a few silly mistakes that I want to share with you all to ensure that you will all be smarter travelers when you embark on your own adventures.

First of all, I got my phone stolen. This could have been avoided if I was more aware of my surroundings. I went out in a sketchy neighborhood one night and was using my i-phone as my camera. I think I left my phone on the table at the bar when I was ordering a beer and someone took it. Or, I may have left it in the outside pocket of my purse that doesn’t have a zipper. Either way – when I reached into my purse for my phone just 10 minutes later, it was gone. My friend ran back to the bar and asked around, but obviously, if someone had stolen it, they weren’t exactly going to admit to it. Luckily, I had transferred most of my photos on to my computer already. In the end, it is just a phone and those are replaceable. I just felt a bit stupid for being so naive!



My second big mistake was not bringing my passport with me when traveling inside Brazil. I decided to travel to the beach and to Rio for a long weekend, and opted against bringing my passport with me because I figured I was traveling in country and wouldn’t need it. However, as I didn’t bring any other form of ID with me, I had no way of proving who I in fact was. I got on the first bus out of Sao Paulo without a problem, they didn’t ask to check my ID. However, once on the bus, Celise pointed out that I really should have brought my passport because you should always travel with some sort of identification, in case anything happens. Also, you usually need ID to get a hotel room. Oops!

The first leg of the trip went just fine, Celise knew the hostel owners where we stayed and they didn’t ask for my ID. But when we went to the bus station to get on the bus to go to Rio, the bus driver wouldn’t let me on without an ID! I figured I had blown our weekend getaway and figured we would have to go home. Celise and I were discussing what to do, when just before the bus was about to leave, the bus driver ran over to us and told Celise that if she signed a piece of paper claiming she was responsible for me that he would let me on the bus. Score!

Once we finally got to Rio, I had to lie to the lady working at the hostel and tell her that my ID got stolen. First of all, I am a horrible liar. Second of all, this was a really stupid thing to lie about. Anyways, she let me stay in the hostel without a problem. Thank God!

The final ID challenge was the bus ride back to Sao Paulo. Obviously, they would ask for my ID again because we were crossing state lines. Celise was leaving 2 days before me. I devised a plan. I followed her to the bus station when she was leaving, and watched her board the bus. A couple minutes later, she came out telling the bus driver she forgot to give something to her friend. She came out and gave me her own ID! Two days later, I put on a pair of sunglasses as I boarded my bus and tried to pass as Celise. Mission accomplished, he didn’t look twice! In the end, it is a funny story – but in reality it was a really silly move.




Meet our Newest Host Family: Soraya and Flavio!


I just received confirmation that Soraya and Flavio are going to host the ECVA participant, Felipe from Atlanta! They have already started communicating between themselves on a regular basis. I am so happy that the placement worked out. Felipe is going to love Sao Paulo and he couldn’t have asked for a better host family.

Funny English Words in Brazil


Brazilians have a very sing-songy way of speaking. Their intonation goes up-and-down all the time. The way that the adapt English words into Portuguese is very cute. They love to add an “y” at the end of all of the commonly adapted English words. Here are some of my favorites:


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They also like to put the “y” sound on the end of names like:




And my personal favorite line that I got was from one man who told me, “Biggy Thank You!”


ECVA Host Family Interview

I went to meet a potential host family for an ECVA participant named Felipe. Felipe is 23-years-old and lives and is applying to go to Sao Paulo in October. He is originally from Colombia, but moved to the US as a child. Celise met a woman that works at the tech company she teaches English at who was very interested in learning about the ECVA program and the possibility of hosting Felipe. I went to meet Soraya and her husband Flavio for dinner to explain how the program works exactly and what their responsibilities would be as hosts. I told them that they would need to offer Felipe a private room and 3-meal per day. In exchange for this, Felipe is required to help them practice their English for 15-hours-per-week. The interview went very well!

Advanced Lesson with Bibliana

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I recently joined Celise at her lesson with Bibliana. Bibliana is a Brazilian woman in her 30s who is married to a French man. Her English is very advanced, however she speaks with a strong French accent because she speaks French with her husband at home. She has been taking classes with Celise in order to change her accent and to improve her English speaking skills. We met at a cute cafe that serves coffee and a delicious variety of chocolates and pastries. I had a coffee with milk and a piece of chocolate called a brigadero. We sat upstairs on the balcony. The cafe looked like it was someone’s grandmother’s house. There were photos on the walls, kitchy furniture, four long eared furry pet rabbits and birds in a cage. I introduced myself to Bibliana and we had an interesting conversation. It turns out that Bibliana is a lawyer, but she also DJs on the side. Her husband is a famous DJ in Sao Paulo at a popluar club. She told us she could get us on the list anytime we like!

The lesson was fun because we talked about phrasal verbs, which can be kind of tricky. They are expressions that we use on a daily basis that we don’t tend to think about as confusing. But for non-native speakers, they really need to be memorized. Phrasal verbs are verbs combined with prepositions in English to describe specific acts. Examples of phrasal verbs are:


Make up

Make out

Sleep in

Set up

Set out

Set down

Get back

Get on

Get off

Turn in

Turn on

Turn out

Move out

Move forward

Move back

Move to

Samba Saturday


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Saturday is the day of the Brazilian dish Feijuada. It is a stew of black beans and different meats, and is served with white rice and fried collard greens on the side. We went to the Praca Sao Luis to eat and see some live Samba. We paired this with some beer and I even bought a fedora hat to get the true Brazilian experience.  The praca was full of people dancing to the live Samba band.

Party for “Raid!”



Last Friday night, my host brothers Joao and Paulo threw a house-warming party for me. The funniest thing is the way they spelled my name. Instead of Heidi they spelled it Raid (pronounced like Haij). They pronounce the “R” like we pronounce the “H” and they pronounce the “D” like a “J”. I thought it was hilarious, and called it the “Raid” party. It was really fun and I met about 10 new Brazilians. I prepared some appetizers, while the boys prepared some drinks. We played music and danced, and everyone was trying their best to speak English to me. I dabbled at my Portuguese and somehow – we all managed to understand each other. I was so excited to get to know everyone and feel welcomed in Sao Paulo.

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