Arrival and First Impressions

On Arrival:  Though there were some initial difficulties—flight cancellation and delay due to bad weather—I was really lucky and had my own row for the eight hour flight from Miami to São Paulo.  I even met a couple from Curitiba that spoke German and Portuguese, and I was able to help them as a translator when our flights were rebooked in Charlotte (German majors ftw!).

The rest of my journey to the homestay where I’ll be for the next seven weeks was fairly uneventful.  I managed to save some money on the taxi ride by taking an airport shuttle closer to my homestay, and then finding a taxi at the other airport.  I spent some time arguing with the lady who sold me the bus ticket, because I forgot to set my clock forward an hour (whoops…), and by arguing I mean grunting like a tired and confused caveman and pointing with the occasional Portuguese word.

First Impressions:

My homestay is really nice! I live with my host mom, Rosana, and her daughter Júlia.

The street where I live (more photos to come)

I also started work with Duke Energy International last week, and I have been very impressed with everything so far.  The employees have been more than willing to help with any questions that I have, and they have also invited me to eat lunch with them everyday.  They have planned several presentations for me, as well as opened up a number of contacts around Brazil for me to interact with.  Right now I’m currently planning trips to see a test facility in Curitiba, a methane gas plant that uses plasma and food waste in Resende, and lastly a trip to meet with some math professors that are involved with solar power optimization modeling–all very cool stuff!  These trips will be my first big travel challenges, but I’m ready to go.

DEI offices are on the 30th floor. Not sure how any of the DEI employees are productive during the day, because the view from up top is pretty amazing.

On Being Confused in Brazil:

I’m just now coming to terms with the fact that my background is entirely too complicated.  So I’m an American from South Carolina (South California, North Carolina)   with three majors, my mother is Korean but I actually speak German, and I’m not a Duke Energy employee, but am completing an independent research project on renewable energy development, and will have the opportunity to examine parts of the industry through the generosity of the company.  Try that one for your next elevator speech…

While many Brazilians have been confused by who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish in South America, I have also been bumbling my way through São Paulo.  First off, the bus stops in the area where I live do not have any timetables or route maps.  Or anything at all.  Instead, for those curious foreigners who happen to find their way to the Morumbi area, there are wooden sticks painted green on the ground (photo to come).  My friend explained that there are no timetables because the traffic is so bad in the city and the buses can never maintain a normal schedule.  Guess I’m sticking to the subway for now.

Here are some more photos, because photos make everything better:

My work place! The offices here are really neat--finger print scanners and ID cards, lounge area, and very interactive environment. No TPS reports for this guy.
Cheesin' after my first full day at Duke Energy International
Lovin' the food! Still learning all the names for everything, but most of the restaurants in the area simply weigh your plate to calculate the cost. I wish steak could be less dense... Also, there are a lot of Japanese immigrants and descendants in São Paulo, so sushi is common--sounds good to me.



Next up: Brazilian music, language update, future plans, work, and birthdays on birthdays on birthdays.


  1. Sounds like you are getting things done and learning a lot! I had issues explaining why I was everywhere too… haha. Good luck!

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