Written by: Jordan Bynum

One of the first things I noticed on my taxi ride from the airport on the day that I arrived in Brazil was the beautiful landscape. Rio de Janeiro has huge steep mountains and plenty of tall trees, foliage, and beaches. The people are super friendly and make you feel comfortable while you try to practice Portuguese with them. They generally are delighted to see a gringo speaking their language. In truth Brazilians are the best part of Brazil. The tourist spots are nice, but I really enjoyed meeting and interacting with locals. They have unique perspectives that are extremely interesting.

There are a ton of things to do in Rio. There’s always a mountain to hike or a favela to explore. The nightlife is amazing; my favorite part of the city is Lapa, which is one of the most animated parts of the city. The relaxed nature of the city makes it easy to be social. Although there are lines to get into clubs or bars on certain nights, there is always someone to converse with. Brazilians are very friendly and easy to befriend.

It is super easy to practice Portuguese with the people here; you have no choice but to speak the language. Many people do not speak English at all and, unlike in Europe, will not be able to talk to you in English when they notice you struggling with the language. You simply have to struggle, which is a good thing, because my Portuguese has significantly improved. The Carioca accent is especially fun to learn because so much of personality of the city is shown through it.