(Reblogged from kinesrio2013)

Day 21: July 21, 2013 by Karl

Wrapping up this trip in writing will be tough. Words cannot describe how incredible our journey has been and this final day was no different. We all did our final shopping at the hippie market in General Osorio Square here in Ipanema. The sky cleared up just in time for us to then go to the beach one last time. The waves were just as big as yesterday so we stayed out of the water for the most part and put our new found knowledge of the sport futevolei (Volleyball with only using the head, chest and legs) to the test and tried to play; albeit unsuccessfully. Afterwards we all came back and got ready for the big Fluminense and Vasco game at Maracana Stadium.

After a slight mixup with some of the tickets, we were all on the Vasco side of the stadium but once we entered we could tell that no matter where we sat it was going to be a great time and a great atmosphere. I had never been to a professional soccer match before so I was incredibly excited and it easily surpassed my expectations. The stadium has been recently renovated and capacity cut in half to make for a much more grandiose stage for the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. The stadium looks incredible and the game was just as amazing. The atmosphere was rowdy the entire time and fortunately for us Vasco won the game 3-1; allowing us to experience firsthand the intensity and excitement that is experienced during a Brazilian Premier League game

Lastly, for our farewell dinner we ate at an amazing buffet a couple blocks from the hostel. They had a huge salad bar and we were brought all types of meats to our table. The food was incredible and was a great last meal for all of us to have together.

I can honestly say these last three weeks have been the greatest experience of my life. From the culture and language we learned about in the classroom, to practicing Capoeira, going on hikes, hang gliding, celebrating a victory at Maracana with the Vasco fans and so much more. This will be an experience never forgotten by my peers and I; it was easy for us to see why Rio is a prime location for Kinesiology students to study the culture of health, wellness, and sport. We came, we learned and we saw Rio to the fullest and I’m incredibly thankful to the CIEE program directors, Jan and all others that made this abroad program happen for us.

Go Blue!

Day 20: July 20, 2013 by Kiomari

After an intense three weeks of studying and learning about Rio we decided to take our free day to relax and explore the streets of our new hometown. Since this week we took our Portuguese test, some of us decided to use our new found language skills to shop around the streets of Copacabana and Ipanema. Our trip is coming to an end so it was time to go buy souvenirs and gifts for family and friends.

It was entertaining yet sad at the same time buying our last minute gifts before our soon departure. Besides shopping, we decided it was appropriate to enjoy the nice warm weather and headed to the beach. We unfortunately could not go in the water though because the waves were enormous, so we chilled together in the sand, becoming part of the enormous crowd.

Reality then hit us and we realized that our time was running out in Rio. As a result, we decided to go to a new restaurant in town and enjoy a nice dinner together. We spent the rest of the evening talking about our experiences in Rio and what we learned about the most. It was a nice, relaxing and entertaining day. Can’t wait to come back to Brazil.

Day 19: July 19, 2013 by Amelia

Today we had another early morning; we were out the door and into the vans by 8:30. We had a long ride, but the scenery was beautiful. It was interesting to see more of Rio because it is such a big city and we have mostly been contained to Ipanema and Copacabana. Our first destination was Sitio Ecologico, an ecological farm which is really the home of Sergio Guaranys.
Being a group of kinesiology students, we didn’t know what to expect going to a farm. It turned out to be a really neat place. Sergio welcomed us into his home and had fresh oranges, bananas, and various other refreshments. After we all said how good the bananas were, he told us that that were grown in his yard!
Around his large property, Sergio likes to grow natural, endemic trees from the region as well as fruit trees. These include banana, papayas, pineapple, and huge spinach type leaves. He looks for plants that like to grow with the least work possible. That isn’t to say he doesn’t put effort into maintain his space. Sergio showed us his compost piles; he never buys fertilizer but his plants prosper. He even keeps about one quarter of his space as a natural preserve the he never ventures into.
As a part of his eco home, Sergio likes to keep everything self-sustainable and one with nature. He has a water tank that collects the rain and it is used throughout the house. The house itself is constructed to let air flow through so air conditioning is not needed.
At the end of the tour, we went back to the house. This time, sergio pulled out a bag of oranges and a juicer. We all pressed our own juice from oranges that are only available in Brazil!
Once we said goodbye to Sergio and thanked him for everything, we headed to a beach we had never been too. Again, the drive there was stunning. We went past many of the mountains distinctive to Rio and white, sandy beaches. The sun was out and the water was a gorgeous shade of blue.
Finally, we made it to Prainha, which means “little beach” in Portuguese. Even though our usual beach in ipanema is stunning, this beach was very picturesque with mountains all around us.
As nice of a day as it was, unfortunately the sun began to go behind the mountain not long after we arrived. With that and the wind, it wasn’t the best day to go in the water. A few of us did brave the chill and enjoyed the huge waves. Zack even brought his surfboard. The rest of us enjoyed the views from shore and played fresco ball and Frisbee.
Soon, we had to head back to the guest house. Even though we were in traffic, it was a nice ride because we drove along the coast almost the whole way.
We had a few hours of downtime once we got back. Then, most of us attended a Brazilian style BBQ at the guest house. It was delicious!

Note from Jan Afonso

As the program winds down, I want to thank my summer intern, Jamie, who managed this blogging project. After the program ends, she will create a new website with the capacity to display even more video clips, photos, and student writings, without the need for so much scrolling. We will post a link to it on this site, so check back in mid-late August. This internship is Jamie’s final requirement to complete her Masters degree from Eastern Michigan University. Congratulations, Jamie!

I also want to send a big thank-you to our on-site UM Program Assistant, Sarah. It was nice to know she was in the guest house every evening and available to help the students with any questions or concerns. Sarah graduated from the UM in May and will return to her new job with an Ann Arbor law firm.

Day 18: July 18, 2013 by Janie

This morning we had our last Portuguese class with our teacher, Vini. However, this morning’s class was a bit different from our other lessons because we had our final test! I think we were all in shock that we actually had to sit down and study for the first time since we have been here. We have been learning SO much, but in a different way than the typical homework assignments and study parties. In my opinion, what you learn outside of the classroom is more valuable and important than what you may read in a textbook. I am not saying that school is not important, but what we have learned about the culture, history, and language of Brazil has only been made possible by our experiences interacting with the Brazilians, hearing lectures from experts in healthcare, poetry, music, mega events, and somato education, and seeing major historical sites in Rio. I wouldn’t take back what I have learned here for anything because it has opened my horizons to a new culture and helped me grow immensely.

We also paired up today to give presentations on the popular sports played here in Brazil. Among the sports discussed were: Beach Tennis, Fresco Ball, Paddle Boarding, Skim Boarding, Futvolley, Volleyball, Beach Soccer, and Surfing. It was more than appropriate to do our presentations on the various beach sports in Rio because they are so much a part of daily life here (and not to mention, most of us are majoring in sports related areas). We all enjoyed learning more about these sports as well as observing them on the beach. We were actually able to head to the beach immediately after our presentations and observed many of these sports once again. Spencer even bought a set of fresco ball rackets and ball and we have enjoyed playing it on the beach a few times. It is such a fun and active culture here and I know I have really enjoyed learning about all of the different sports they have in Brazil that we have never seen in the U.S. Going to the beach and picking up a game of beach soccer or watching the expert futvolley players propel the ball over the net without using their hands is something I think we are all going to miss.

Day 17: July 17, 2013 by Adrienne

We began our day by visiting the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. This public health institute was opened in the 1800s to find a cure for the bubonic plague. Over time, the goal of the institute transitioned more toward finding cures for tropical diseases prevalent in Brazil.

Note from Jan Afonso: During her visit to Rio in September 2012, UM President Mary Sue Coleman signed an agreement establishing a formal research collaboration between UM faculty members and researchers at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute http://portal.fiocruz.br/en/content/home-ingl%C3%AAs .

After our wonderful tour around Instituto Oswaldo Cruz we visited Igreja de Penha in Zona Norte. This church was one of the biggest tourist destinations in the 70s, but then became too dangerous to visit when the surrounding favelas were taken over by drug lords. After the pacification of the surrounding favelas, the church was open to the public once again. Igreja de Penha was, and still is, an important pilgrimage for Catholics. They climb up hundreds of stairs on their knees to reach the church. This church will receive a lot of traffic in the upcoming week for World Youth Day and the Pope’s visit!

After visiting the church we made our way back to Zona Sul. Some of us were able to ride in the “party bus”. We had a really fun driver that played loud music and even danced along with us.

After returning to the guest house we all headed to the beach; which was sadly one of our few remaining beach days! Tonight we are all working/studying hard as we have presentations and a Portuguese exam tomorrow!

Instituto Oswaldo Cruz and Igreja de Penha Church

M Go Blue! in Brazil

Day 16: July 16, 2013 by Amelia

Today we had another busy day. In our Portuguese lesson, we broadened our vocabulary with a lot of adjectives. To help us hear the words, we listened to a song about what it means to be Carioca (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iyx63i8BV5A). We also continued to practice conjugation for different verbs. We are all a little nervous because we were told that on Thursday we have a test! Vinicius has prepared us, but we´ll be practicing a lot nonetheless!

After Portuguese, we only had a short break before our next lecture began. This time, we had a presentation about Brazilian poetry and literature by Thereza Christine Rocque da Matta. (Thankfully she let us just call her Chris!) Chris has a very impressive resume. She studied English and law and then worked for a time as a legal document translator. Even so, she had decided at the young age of 15 that her true calling was to be a poet.

She is very passionate about poetry and said that when she writes it comes from her soul. In the past 30 years she has written 30 books, 15 of which are published. Now, she even owns her own publishing company!

One thing Chris mentioned is how currently there are not many Brazilian authors. Many popular books were written in other countries and translated into Portuguese. As a part of being an author/translator and having her own publishing company, she strives to deliver great English writings to Brazil. She has translated 154 Shakespearean sonnets into Portuguese. She has even done less traditional writing, like Michael Jackson’s “Dancing the Dream.”

Once the lecture was over, we headed out for lunch and then to the guest house. We had a few hours of down time, but unfortunately the weather wasn´t nice enough to go to the beach. Soon enough, however, we were boarding a bus to Leme for a Capoeira class.

Our destination was the Centro Cultural Senzala de Capoeira for a lesson from Mestre (master) Tony Vargas. Capoeira was created in Brazil, mostly by the Africans who were the descendants of slaves. It is a type of martial art developed to secretly stay agile, as any type of fighting was prohibited. The moves are disguised by dance and accompanied by drums and various other instruments. Today, 8 million people practice Capoeira in Brazil and it is growing worldwide.

For our instructions, we were joined by students of all ages. They were there to partner with us and make sure we were all involved. As soon as the music started, we jumped right in. We began simply enough, stepping and clapping along with the beat. The movements became more and more complex, and soon we were moving all around the room.

Most of the movements were low to the ground. Sometimes we were even moving around on our hands. Eventually, we worked up to doing cartwheels over our partners and kicking over them. There was even one move that was like leapfrog where we had to launch ourselves over our partners’ backs. It was quite intense!

After about an hour, we gathered around in a circle and the students performed for us. It was amazing how smooth their movements were, and their strength and balance was impressive. After a few minutes they made some of us perform with them. We did pretty well for the short amount of time we had to practice!

All too soon, we had to head back to the guest house. After a long day, we were all ready for bed. We don’t have long left in Rio, but we still have many exciting activities planned.

Day 15: July 15, 2013 by Kiomari

Our morning started like every other morning since we’ve been here, except that the breakfast was extra good today (the bread was delicious). During breakfast we were all very curious of what our morning activity would be like since we were instructed to wear sweat pants, a sweater and socks (not usual Rio attire). We then headed to the CIEE where we found out that we were doing feldenkrais, which is a method of somatic education. It is basically used to improve body movements. It also helps to improve one’s awareness of body parts and movements. Somatic education looks a lot like yoga.

After taking our shoes off and putting towels on the floor, our instructor went ahead and informed us of the origin and background of somatic education. She talked to us about Moshe Feldenkrais, the guy who designed this form of somatic education and explained how he came about designing it. After a brief background on the subject, she went ahead and instructed us to lie down. We did some body movements with our arms and legs that help you loosen your hips and joints. I was surprised that these exercises help with Samba dancing and Capoeira. The exercises were so relaxing that we were then ready for a nap. It was both mind and body soothing.

We thanked our instructor for her help and knowledge on how to relax the body and then went on to have a relaxing lunch before our next activity. The next activity, boxing, was one I was really excited for. I come from a place where boxing is really famous so I was ready to learn how to box. The boxing place we went to is in a favela called Vidigal; a beautiful favela in front of the ocean with an amazing view of both the ocean and of the Two Brothers Mountains.

It was quite incredible walking up to the favela and seeing how beautiful it is. The guy who gave us the class trains professional students so it made the experience even more enchanting. The class first started with a light jog to loosen us up and then the instructor explained the basic movements of boxing. It was really fun practicing in pairs. We had quite the sweat! It seemed as if everyone was having a great time.

To finish the class the instructor decided to do a game of “Simon Says” in Portuguese. We played it tournament style so there would be one winner at the end. The final was between Sarah and I and it was quite intense! I believe Sarah let me win.
After thanking our instructor for a fun class, we went back on the bus and saw a beautiful view of the ocean; it was stunning. It is sad to say that we only have one week left, but I can 100% say that this has been the best trip so far.

Note from Jan Afonso:

The Todos na Luta gym provides free boxing education and training to children in the under-resourced Vidigal community. It is where brothers Esquiva Falcão Florentino (silver medalist 2012 Olympics) and Yamaguchi Falcão (bronze medalist 2012 Olympics) got their start. They frequently return to encourage young students. http://www.todosnaluta.org.br/pagina-principal

Day 14: July 14, 2013 by Janie


Today we had a day off from program activities and were free to explore Rio as we pleased! Some started the day at the beach, one of the best ways to start the mornings here. Another small group decided to hike the Two Brothers mountain, which we are fortunately very close to and can walk right to the mountain. Personally, this is my favorite mountain and I was informed that the hike up was beautiful. Another group of 8 of us planned to go hang gliding for the day. We caught a ride to Sao Conrado beach, and were then shuttled through Tijuca National Park to where the take off platform was located. The wait was long, but most definitely worth it. I think all of us that went can safely say it was the best experience we have had as of yet (and we have had A LOT of amazing experiences already). The view was breathtaking; it didn’t even seem real. The flight was so smooth, even the take off. If you are going to hang glide, there is no better place to do it than in Brazil.

After our flight, we headed back to Ipanema to shop at the Hippie Market. This market takes place in the General Osario every Sunday. I think all of us got a chance to explore it today and had several great finds! This market is so vast-it literally has anything and everything you are looking for: clothing, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, bags, shoes, hats, clocks, mirrors, you name it! Everything is so unique, and most items are hand made. I think we all plan to head back next Sunday for some last minute buys before we have to leave this amazing city.

I think everyone enjoyed their free day, and we were once again reminded of how much we love it here. We are so excited for what our last week has to offer!

Tchau Tchau!