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Leaning in

Part I: Pre-apartment

Boy oh boy do I miss a kitchen.

For the past 3 weeks I have been staying in a hotel, and the thing I miss the most is eating what I want, when I want. I love to cook, and without that control over my life it has been hard to settle in.

I signed a contract for a cute apartment near downtown at a reasonable price ($250 USD) with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a large open living area with a kitchen. I love nesting, and I am stoked to snuggle into our little bachelor pad (I say that not because I am a bachelor, but because the apartment is outfitted with high-end liquor bottles and framed pictures of cars). The bachelor himself is living with his mother for the time being, which frees the space up for us.

There’s several cafes that are close, and a bus stop right outside. There’s also a indoor beach tennis gym across the street. Hopefully I can figure out how to join sometime soon.

I have unofficially joined the university volleyball team that meets every Sunday to play. It’s a fun way for me to meet new people, exercise, and have something to do on Sunday mornings. Sundays are family days for Brazilians, when cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles come together to barbeque and enjoy each other’s company. I'm excited to have quiet family Sundays when Izzy arrives in a couple weeks.

I hope to host some dinners in the bachelor pad for students who are here without family, like myself. I’m no churrasco professional, but I could cook some burgers.

Last weekend, my friends (Bea, Kennedy, Nathi, & Laura) brought me to a highly organized university party put on by the band of the other larger university in Apucarana, called UTFPR. The party was advertised as a “foam party” and man, did they deliver.

A huge foam contraption created a small sea of foam to play in and take pictures. There was also a mini blow up soccer pitch with water where people could play. After sunset, the band played some acoustic classics that had everyone singing along and dancing in a ring around them.

Dancing to the beat of the band and the bodies around you is such a euphoric experience. It was dark outside, but the energy of the party made everything feel bright and buzzing.

Part II: Post-apartment

Moved in at last!!

It feels so good to have a space to myself and finally unpack my suitcases. I've spent the week buying little things to make the space my own, my favorite of which is a hanging crocheted toilet paper holder with little flowers on it.

Izzy finally bought a ticket to come down here, and we are counting down the days until she arrives. The apartment is just a little too quiet without my favorite person.

Easter Sunday was one of my favorite days I've had here so far. I played volleyball with the team (I'm finally getting better), and then attended a family "churrasco" or barbeque with my friend Alex's family. They were kind and welcoming, and they made an effort to include me in the event. The food was delicious, there was plenty of beer, and we had a good time trying to communicate. I have befriended an Argentinian exchange student who is also studying here, and she went with us to the barbeque. It was thoroughly entertaining to attempt communication in three languages with various members of his family.

It feels as if my work here is picking up. In the next month I have 2 guest presentations, an hour-long lecture on U.S. culture, and many hours of weekly tasks. I have not yet found any of these tasks to be abhorrently mundane. In fact, I quite like what I am doing.

This is the first time in a long time that I have a significant amount of creative license in the work that I am doing, and it has felt so empowering. I genuinely enjoy playing around on Canva and making Instagram posts for my activities. I try to create engaging in-class activities for the students during classes, including song analysis, commercial analysis, games, etc.

In addition to attending and conducting language activities in six university classes, I also carry out a personal activity schedule. I'll include a picture below.

Love and hugs,

Lauren Kinsey Kuhlman


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