I need to start by being honest with you guys… even though Fortaleza was my first choice, I really didn’t know a lot about Fortaleza before coming. That is to say, I read the Wikipedia page and looked on google images (note: the university where I work is nowhere near the beach). So, after a week and half (I wrote this before I left for Carnaval in Salvador), here are some of my first impressions:
1) It’s hot. I know I shouldn’t be complaining, because I had about a foot of snow the day before I left, but it’s hot. And it’s a humid hot. Right now, I’m lucky to be living about 12 minutes walking-distance away from the university and even as early as 7:30 am, I arrive at the university super sweaty. I’d apologize if that’s TMI, but anyone who knows me well enough to follow this blog shouldn’t care.
2) The showers are cold. At first, this was seriously awful. I arrived in Fortaleza sick and tired, and the idea of taking a cold shower just made me feel worse. Now, I couldn’t think of a better way to shower because it’s so darn hot! Thank goodness years of cold showers at Camp Harlam prepared me for this
3) Fortaleza is huge. Not São Paulo huge (is any other city like that), but still huge in the sense that we can drive 45 minutes to Beach Park (pronounced Beachy Parky) and still technically be “in Fortaleza.”
4) Do they even speak Portuguese here? The answer is yes, but cearense might as well be it’s own language. Between the slang (farrear? Cafofo?) and the use of “tu” (qual é teu nomé? Essa é tua?), it sounds nothing like the paulista Portuguese I’m used to.
So now you may be wondering, what am I even doing here in Fortaleza??
Before carnaval, we had a bunch of meetings with our two coordinators (Manolisa and Marcos), the head of English without Borders at UFC (Glaucya), and the head of the Humanities Center (Vládia). Even though Laura and I won’t officially start working until after carnaval, we have a lot to do! Here’s a brief outline of what I’ll be doing at UFC, although literally everything is subject to change:
1) Run an English conversation club for Letras students (students who are studying to be English teachers) twice a week;
2) Run an online conversation club for students who are studying letras online (still not quite sure how/if this is going to work)
3) Visit Letras classes and classes at the Casa de Cultura Britânica to teach about U.S. culture and history
4) Visit all of the UFC campuses (campi?) with Laura to give lectures on U.S. culture and history for students who aren’t enrolled in letras or CCB
5) Run monthly workshops for the English without Borders students
6) Tutor English without borders students and help prepare them for the TOEFL exam!
It sounds like a lot, but it’s really only 20-25 hours a week, including lesson/lecture/workshop planning! So far, Laura and I have just been brainstorming ideas for different lesson topics and for activities we can do during conversation club (as opposed to just having students bate-papo for an hour) and while we were brainstorming, we also decided that we want to try and start an American Film Series here at UFC! We’re hoping to do it once a month and just screen English-language movies that show a little bit about U.S. history or culture. Well kind of. Right now some of our options include Remember the Titans (which talks about race in the U.S. AND American football) and Animal House (an obviously accurate portrayal of American university life). If you have any suggestions, let me know! (I’m looking at you Julie, Nathalie, Ayse, all my film-buff friends who I hope love me enough to read this blog)
That’s about it for now! I’ve officially registered with the federal police, I should be getting my CPF (ID number) sometime next week, and have already traveled to celebrate carnaval! The next update from Fortaleza should include more of what I’m actually doing here!