To many people, my travel to Brazil could be an obvious thing. – I have a Brazilian boyfriend, why wouldn’t I be here? And in fact it’s a great reason to be somewhere – this “travelling for love” thing – but what am I really doing in Brazil? That’s a whole new question!
I’m a Spanish philology student. A STUDENT, which – I don’t know how about other countries, but – in Poland equates more or less that you eat sandwiches with bread buttered with a knife. (1)* And currently, I’m living in a foreign country, on a foreign continent! And well, making a living within the European Union was already hard enough, what about this third world where you enter on a touristic visa for 90 days and can’t legally work unless you obtain a working permit that is unobtainable. Except for if you’re planning to actually stay and you have a fair share of luck too.
I came here for the first time in December, just for about 2 weeks. It was manageable having saved some money from the time I worked in Spain and having added to that some extra from a part-time job in Poland somewhere in between my uni classes. But coming here for the second time wasn’t all that easy anymore. Not even having worked some in Switzerland. And especially not right after the Independence Sail (2)* that I took part in from the beginning of 2019.
At last, I came to Brazil with nothing but $45 in my wallet and two Polish debit cards. (One of them is a dollar one, simply because it’s a dollar zone. Even though their currency is actually R$ it still makes the spread lower).; A debit card doesn’t necessarily help one survive here, but it allows money transfers, withdrawals and payments within the possessed amounts, so that’s good enough. I’d had a place to sleep arranged beforehand at my boyfriend’s aunt’s place, so there was one less thing to worry about. Only that my plan was to contribute to the expenses. Even if I didn’t have to pay the rent, it would be nice to at least participate in the costs of food, gas, water etc, right? And I also needed to buy a ticket back home at some point. (I still do not have it).
I and my $45… (Talk about low cost travelling, eh?)
Everything is doable as long as you have a plan
Fortunately, I came here with a laptop. (A cheap laptop bought on credit just a week prior to the trip (3))*. With a laptop and a plan. The plan was simply to work online. To register on a learning platform, Cambly, Italki, Preply… something going that way, and earn money giving English classes. I had an endless amount of time here after all (as Leo – my bf – is both studying and working). I could give even 10 classes per day (okay, I am totally exaggerating, maximum 5). Or well, I could also try freelance writing, translating stuff or whatever.
Only that it turned out that in order to get a job writing you have to have some credibility, some proof you can actually write. I hadn’t even had a laptop before, what about writing! Then on Cambly they already reached the limit of tutors so I couldn’t really get in anymore. And the Italki team rejected my application like a thousand times because the picture was crooked, the video not cool, or due to me not wanting to teach Polish.
Preply, on the other hand, did accept me immediately. But (there is ALWAYS a “but”) they also have a policy of taking 100% commission from every first lesson with a new student. And 33% from every next one (after 50 classes it goes down to 25%). That basically meant that during the first weeks having given 15 classes my income still equated zero! Of course – at the beginning nobody knew me, I had no references, I was low on the list of tutors and without great statistics and I had exclusively first classes, with people that wanted to have lessons once a week… Definitely not something too encouraging. My boyfriend believed in me the whole time though and he with his family every day was asking me how it was going… God, how embarrassing and scary that was. In the end, though, I did end up becoming an actual teacher there. So far I’m having around 10-14 paid classes per week (plus 2-4 first ones), which turns out to be a lot.
The prose of life
This is what I am doing here. I teach English. I teach English to Polish people. (Which is perfect, considering the time difference, cuz it means I’m working during the regular working hours and I have evenings free). I’m using my cheap-not-earned-yet-laptop and the hospitality of the whole Leo’s family. (Because in his aunt’s flat where I sleep the internet fails on average 5 times per day if it’s there in the first place. I am not having this during the classes that are my only source of income. But I have the keys to two other flats and they’re all 2 mins away, so that’s not too much of a big deal*).
Regarding everything else I could say I just live here. Relationship, work, making new friends, (preparing for the Brazilian winter…). And I learn Portuguese (at an alarming rate). …and avoid uni for as long as I can make it.
1. *(as an opposition to butter, cause we actually do need both butter and a knife to butter a sandwich. But whether you spread some butter with the knife or whether you just pass the knife over the bread is a question of your parent’s social status or the hard work you put into not saving money)
2. *(From Panama to Gdynia through Colombia, United States, Bahamas, Azores and Great Britain. I’m certainly gonna write a post about that and link it here, cause it was a long and massive trip around the world on a huge frigate to celebrate 100 years of Polish Independence)
3. *(In reality it was bought by my dad. He got the money from God knows where, honestly. And he bought it with a promise I would return the money when I earn it.. #never #justkidding #maybe #dadpleasedontreadthis)
4. *(this is the great thing about Brazilians, eh. Their hospitality is huge and they like to stay close to their families, so although when they grow up they do move out from their parents, it seems like they stick together in one place anyway, and so my boyfriend and his parents live up the street, his aunt at the other end of the road exactly 1min away, his brother right in front of his flat, just crossing the street, his sister two tiny streets away, a 2min walk, the other aunt 10 min down the main street, the uncle next door from her and so on…)
I was so worried about the money! Thought this $45 would last me for maybe a week at most! And in the end, throughout my whole stay here so far I haven’t managed to spend even $15… I really tried! I attempted to contribute to the expenses, to the food, pay for myself when out… even such a stupidity as the bus tickets… Well, impossible! Sometimes it is just impossible. #irecommendthisfamily
Oh, and the top of everything was when I went for a pedicure that turned out to be a gift too. When the woman found out it was my first time, she told me it’s on her so I could judge her service and hopefully come back if I liked it.
So – maybe in the financial sense I wouldn’t say I am rich just yet, but wouldn’t really call myself poor either.