29 June 2010


So I was trying to find some more information about Ball State's new Irving Gym, which should open this August.  Specifically, I wanted to learn about the rock wall.  I learned to climb while I was in Mexico, and it would be nice to start climbing again; however, I'm a horrible climber and very weak, so I'm wondering if there will be classes offered to low-level climbers like me.  Anyway, as I was looking for images and information, I found this.  Basically, there's going to be a whole section of the new recreation complex devoted to helping students enjoy the outdoors.  I can't imagine anything more fabulous.  There will even be organized trips and fun activities to take students biking, rafting, and climbing.  Wild.

Also, check this video out.  It's a "fly-through" of the new facility.  AHHH!!! I'm so excited!  (If I don't exercise a LOT this year, some one PLEASE call me out on it!)

28 June 2010

He calls it "bufniţă," but I preferred "cursed"

Sometime earlier in the semester, my roommate and some of his friends watched a scary American movie with Portuguese subtitles with the occasional Romanian word.  For some reason the translators chose to use the Romanian word "bufniţă," which referred to the movie's evil spirit or demon.  Since then my roommate has attributed anything that goes wrong in Brazil to the bufniţă that apparently lives in our apartment.

While I wasn't there watching the movie, since I've moved into the apartment the bufniţă has shown its cruel face on many occasions.  At first I ignored his insistence that there was an evil spirit in our midst, but now too many uncanny things have happened for me to continue ignoring the bufniţă.  

For starters, everything breaks.  Everything.  The glasses broke, the shower broke, the lights broke, the windows broke. . . You get my drift.  And when something breaks, it tends to have lethal implications.   For example, this is the note my roommate left me after the shower broke one morning:

I can't make this stuff up.

Why electrocution?  He wrote this for me after trying to shower and seeing sparks.  Because our building doesn't have a water heater, the only place in our apartment with hot water (namely, the shower) needs to have electricity flowing around the water to warm it up.  *Our* electric shower heater has exposed metal wires and fun stuff like that.  Did I mention the standard voltage here ranges anywhere between 140-200?  I recently read 100 volts is enough to kill some people.  So. . . yeah.  Bufniţă.  We didn't shower in the house for about a week.  Even after that we were nervous.  Heck, I'm still nervous.

(And a really quick aside to anyone who may be developing electric water heaters.  Give the user more heat options than "summer," "winter," and "none."  Now that the weather is cold, we're avoiding the shower for two reasons: the risk of electrocution and the fact that the water rarely gets above 65 degrees.)

Other bufniţă stories include turning on lights and watching them smoke (after not even having lights for a few months), things disappearing, and windows that just won't close; however, the bufniţă extends its reach beyond our home life.  I've had my flight home changed three times, each time giving me a mind-achingly longer layover in the murder capital of Brazil.  My roommate just found out he may not get into graduate school because his GRE scores arrived the day after he sent his application.  And even then it was three weeks after they were supposed to be here.  Not to mention endless headaches we've been having in one of our classes.  The bufniţă just won't quit until either we're permanently stuck in Brazil, or dead (which I suppose could permanently keep us in Brazil as well). 

After some thought about the situation, I think someone put a Santeria or Candomblé curse on us.  We've been seeing signs of the religions around town, mostly in the form of chickens heads and bodies on the odd street corner. 

There was a heavily drugged and dying chicken nearby 

The person living here before me had a bad breakup, and I wouldn't put it past the injured party to pay for someone to curse this apartment in revenge.  Maybe a long stretch, but it's actually the scenario that makes the most sense to me at this point.  

22 June 2010

. . . And the Wisdom to Know the Difference.

God grant me the
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

one day
at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.


I'm not exactly a religious person, but sometimes the religious thinkers say it best.  I've had something come up at school that I find offensive and unprofessional, and I was trying to change it; however, after many roads have been blocked and losing my last asset to what I see as university politics, I think it's time to accept that I cannot and will not be able to do anything about the situation.  It's time to move on, try to enjoy what time I have left here, and shake the dust of Brazil from my feet when I leave.  So goes life, and I suppose now is as good a time as any to learn how to accept injustice in one's life. 

So I offer this to whoever reads my blog:  Sometimes the cause you're fighting for is completely worth it, but even so it's possible to remain powerless.  Do as the disciples did and put the situation and the people from your mind.  Just move on to the next thing.

(But if you can make a difference, do!)

21 June 2010

Festa da Comida Internacional

As promised, here are all the fun details of my international food party!!!

As far as a party goes, it was pretty typical: friends came, ate, we had fun, and felt happy at the end of the night.  We had it on the roof, and even though it was raining, we stayed under the covered part and were pretty comfortable.  I think the photos really tell the story better than I can.  What the photos don't tell you is that partway trough the night I accidentally locked my keys in my apartment (oops!). I had a good time with a couple friends trying to break into the apartment.  It took us about an hour, but eventually my neighbor and my friend Bernardo were able to remove my doorknob with a screwdriver and turn the interior knob though the door to open the door.  Yay!  Things I learned that evening:

1. Always check to be sure you have your keys when leaving the apartment.  Especially if there are no spares.

2. When faced with a locked door, most young adults will first try anything they've seen work in movies before calling a locksmith. (True story, after we'd tried credit cards, plastic bottles, hairpins, and the like, my Spanish friend said, "Wait, you're American.  Just shoot your way through!"  It was hilarious.)

3. Brazilians want you to wear shoes.  Always.  

 Enjoy the photos!

Making Japanese soup.

Oh yeah, mad chopstick skills.


Gals from my landscape class showing off the pão de quiejo.

Japanese soup and negrinho!

Why does the Mexican have pancakes and the Japanese gal have apple pie?

I swear this is an exact quote from my Brazilian friend, "Oh, my God! American Pie!  Like the movie! Quick, take a picture!"

Guacomole with tortillas and apple pie, but not together.  :S

Nearly the full spread.

Spanish omelet. . . I had only a small piece and it was soooooooooooooo good.  I want more.  Now even.

Brazilian food: cheese-based quiche (left) and pão de queijo (right), which happens to be my favorite Brazilian food.

Close-up of pão de queijo.

Translated, this is called something like "little balls of rain." It was like elephant ear bites.  *Yum!*

Pancakes with cinnamon. (Writing this post is making me hungry.)

Spanish omelet before we devoured the whole thing.

Negrinho-- I'm not really sure what it is other than some form of chocolate covered with sprinkles.


Guacomole (Mexico)

Tortillas (Mexico)

Having a good time.  I was probably downstairs trying to break into my apartment.

Japanese soup.  Really, the Japanese have very good food.  

Maybe pão de quiejo?


My neighbor and her boyfriend.  These two people have been the best, most helpful people in Porto Alegre.  Everyone send them happy thoughts and wishes for good luck and prosperity in life.  No, really, stop reading and send positive thoughts their way.


I'm pretty sure she's scolding me for not wearing shoes.  Brazilians really like shoes.

Teehee.  Everyone's mouth is full.

Towards the end of the night-- notice how nearly all the food is gone.

15 June 2010

Freshman Packing List

It seems like nearly all the high schools are wrapping up their graduation ceremonies, which means Ball State’s new class is officially done with high school and ready for college! Yay!  My friends back at home have informed me that Ball State’s freshman orientation has officially started, too.  Double Yay!

I spent my summer before college working and planning.  My favorite thing to plan?  What should I bring to school???  If you’re reading this and wondering the same thing, have no fears.  It’s easier than you think.

I brought a lot of stuff with me to college on my first day.  No, really—A LOT.  We actually rented a small U-Hall to help.  We have an SUV.  So. . . yeah.  Some might call my over-packing a mistake.  At the time I would have called it being prepared.  Now I call it a learning experience.  Did I really need all my stuff?  No, not really.  Was I frequently comforted by familiar things in an unfamiliar environment?  Yes, absolutely.  So, rather than tell you to take a minimalist approach for this one, I offer more comprehensive advice.

       1.      DO remember the
 You can forget
everything else, but remember these things:

a.      Prescription medications w/
the prescription (for refills)

b.     Glasses/contacts

c.      Basic toolbox (with hammer,
screwdrivers, etc.)

d.  An umbrella (Really, bring one.  It rains a lot.)

e.     Anything else you use every
day that you can’t buy in the store

Have those in your bag?  Good.  Now as for toiletries, you might be surprised to learn that Muncie has a Walmart, Target, Meijer, and several other stores well equipped to supply you with many things.  So,

       2.      To make the first
few days easier but still have room in the car for more interesting possessions,
pack. . .

a.      a toothbrush

b.     enough shampoo/conditioner/lotion/toothpaste
to last for two weeks (I find the airport 3 oz. bottles work nicely for this)

Why for only two weeks?  That’s about how much time you’ll need to get settled in and learn how to take the bus to Walmart to buy bigger bottles.  Also, you end up saving some room in your luggage, which is all too nice when what you’re really interested to pack are...

       3.      Things that feel
familiar to you. . .

a.      Bring a picture of your
family and/or people who are important to you

b.     At least one item from your
bed at home (pillow, blanket, etc.)

c.      At least one decorative
item from your room (lamp, candle, photo, etc)

These are the things you’ll find yourself staring at during the first semester, partly because you’ll miss them and partly because they’ll bring back happy memories.  Try to stick to just a few items though, because. . .

       4.      Bring something
completely new

This could be a new bedspread, sheet set (most residence halls have twin extra-long mattresses. . . normal twin won’t fit!!!), pillow, blanket, art. . . really whatever you want.  The idea is you’re moving to a new place, and while you’ll want to feel
at home (which is why you’re bringing stuff from your old room), you’ll also
want to give your new place an identity of its own.  Having a roommate helps this since you’ll have to mesh your and his/her things together, but it’s nice to have something new for yourself.

The rest is up to you, but here are my suggestions:

       5.      On clothes:  bring all your fall clothes that you’d
normally wear, plus two summer and two winter outfits.  Over fall or Thanksgiving break, switch your
fall clothes for winter clothes, leaving two fall outfits.  Bring one formal outfit and a towel.  Recap:

a.      Fall wardrobe (including
light jacket and shoes)

b.     Two summer outfits

c.      Two winter outfits

d.     One formal outfit

e.     Towel

       6.      Things you might not normally think of:  

a.      Shower shoes/flip-flops to
protect your feet

b.     Shower caddy to haul your
stuff around

c.      Bathrobe to walk around in (knee
length is good b/c it will keep you covered but won’t drag on the floor and get gross or wet)

       7.      On bedding:  As already mentioned, beds are twin extra
long—make sure your bottom sheet fits!  I recommend two pairs of sheets simply because it’s easier to have a clean bed while one is being washed.  Remember—your bed will also be your couch, homework space, lounge space, and social space.  Making it comfortable is important.  I found a *great* deal at Bed, Bath, & Beyond on a down mattress topper—I bought it for around $20.  It’s my favorite thing I brought to
school.  Seriously.  My absolute favorite thing.  My bed was/is heaven.   Talk to your roommate about temperature—do they like it warm or hot in the room? 
Let that conversation help you decide how many blankets you need.  Recap:

a.      Twin Extra Long sheet set

b.     Comfort-related items
(pillows, toppers, comforters. . . decide what you need and go for it, but you definitely don’t need all of it for a great bed.)

c.      One or two blankets

       8.      On shared items:  Most roommates coordinate who’s bringing
certain “big” things.  Try to be sure one of you is bringing these items:

a.      Microwave

b.     Mini-fridge

c.      Couch/futon/chair
(something to sit on that’s not your bed; this aids in making friends since people have a place to chill in your room.)

       9.      Still have space?  How about some luxury items:

a.      Small bookshelf (I’m an avid reader) with favorite books

b.     Marker board (for the door... we use them a lot to communicate for some reason)

c.      Musical instruments
(guitar, harmonica, flute. . . whatever gives you a thrill)

d.     Rugs (sometimes you can get
these after you arrive for REALLY cheap)

e.     A floor or hanging lamp;
most rooms have florescent lights.  It’s
like being in a fish bowl.  Give yourself
the calming effects of incandescent.  I
had a cheap Chinese paper lantern hanging from my bed, which was lofted.  Actually, I still use that lantern.

       10.  Things to get AFTER
you arrive and unpack

a.      Shampoo, conditioner, etc.

b.     Food

c.      The little things you forgot or didn’t know you’d need or saw in someone else’s room and coveted

d.     School supplies

e.     Curtain with rod/hanging mechanism; once you get settled in you’ll know if it’s possible to section off a private space with a curtain.  It’s
easiest in Johnson Complex because of Z-shaped rooms, but any bunked bed can become private.  Remember: you can’t hang
anything from the ceiling!

       11.  And my final
tip?  If you’re not sure if you should
bring something, pack it. 
You can
always take it back over fall break if you don’t need it, and if you did need
it, well, then you have it. :)  Remember, you'll be living here for the majority of the year (nearly 10 months of the year!), so make it your home. 

09 June 2010

Just to Tease You for What's to Come. . .

Posts coming soon about:  international food party with my friends; my two school projects; life events; and probably some random musings thrown in for flavor. 

I've been working diligently on my school projects, and they've been top priority for a while.  I'm hoping to submit one to the Open Architecture Network.  But soon, I promise, I'll give you all the lovely, gritty details.

Oh yeah, be excited.