And so begins my semester at PUC-Rio. "I do not speak Portuguese." I appear to be one of the only international students here for the intensive Portuguese program who has not studied the language at all, ever. I tested into level 3 of 5 with the online test (Portuguese and Spanish are similar), but the oral test put me in level 1 as my pronunciation and actual knowledge of Portuguese is pretty nonexistent. It's a strange position to be in, but I am loving it!
Today was orientation so I met the 130 other students who will be here this month. There isn't as much diversity as I would have liked, at least half of the students are from California! Mostly from UC Berkeley, UCSB, UCLA, and a couple of other UC schools. Apparently PUC and the UC system are very close; they even have an official representative with an office on campus! Other than that there are numerous other undergraduate students (the majority), grad students, entrepreneurs, army wives following their husbands, and travelers.
PUC is only a 15-20min bus ride from my house, which is convenient. The campus is beautiful, though pretty empty now as the school is on vacation. Classes start Monday and are Mon-Fri from 8:30am-1pm.
I definitely have much more freedom here than with my host family in Ecuador. I have my own key to the house and no real restrictions except boys aren't allowed to spend the night. I am truly enjoying myself so far and just need to get some more reais out of the bank, buy a cell phone, and learn to speak Portuguese!