There are few things that make me happy quite like logistics…kind of. There are few things that make me as unhappy as logistical things that I can’t organize and solve.
With that being said, here are some of the steps that I had to go through in Brazil to get Logistical things under way.
Recommendations: Bring a phone that is UNLOCKED from the U.S. If you have a nice phone and are worried about loss or theft, buy a cheap unlocked smart phone (one with whatsapp and Uber capabilities). Visit a few different carries and get a nice data plan, but don’t worry too much about having a lot of texts or minutes to call because Brazilians don’t use them much anyway.
My Reality: I brought my iPhone and was hoping that either my carrier or the apple store could unlock it here. Nope. I ended up getting a Brazilian phone number (through Vivo which had a reasonable plan for calling/text and I got 1.5 GB thinking that should be enough, especially if I was always connected to wifi). The Brazilian phone number didn’t work because of my locked phone, and then the SIM card was too small when my host professor borrowed me an old phone (meaning another trip to the mall). Without wifi at home and almost everywhere, only communicating through data tends to use a lot of data, 1.5 might not be enough. Here’s to hoping my sister who is visiting can bring me the phone I ‘Amazoned’ to the house, if not…a cheap (cheapest $100) phone here.
Recommendations: If you are moving somewhere completely new and have the option to temporarily stay somewhere, do it. Also, ask around to try and find grocery stores/cheap department-like stores that will have kitchen items you will need as well as bed sheets and other items. If you don’t have the option to move somewhere where you have the offer of immediate housing, get an air bnb and start looking around right away (only rent FURNISHED places because unfurnished can mean no appliances as well!)
My Reality: This was perhaps one of the smoothest transitions I’ve had into a new place, thus far. My roommate and I are both from the same program and we are staying the same small room in one of the few “campus-housing” buildings. It isn’t on campus, but it is nearby and has free transportation to and from the university. We can find a new place if we want, any time we want, with a notification of two days. We have a stove top (no oven), a microwave and fridge, two single beds, a closet, and a bathroom/shower all in our room. We even have a little deck and a clothes drying rack. We bought fruits and vegetables on our first day and have slowly begun hanging up art and getting other less pressing things for our place. Our view overlooks a horse pasture and we are walking distance from a ton of cute restaurants. There is no A/C and we can’t have guests overnight, but it is a nice area and a gated community so it feels fairly safe. We’ve even had the chance to meet some very kind students that live in the housing as well.
Recommendations: Bring down a properly sized photo of yourself (2 copies, but not the same size as a passport photo), bring down a fresh copy of almost every page that isn’t blank in your passport (although you can do that in Brazil because you will need to copy the page with your entrance to Brazil too), find a place with wifi and fill out your online registration form as well as schedule a time to go there in person and complete the transaction. Set aside about $100 (USD) in Brazilian Reais so that you have the money to take to the bank.
My Reality: I had the wonderful support of an international student department that is at my university. They filled out the papers, using our passports and Visa application sheet, and they set an appointment for us with the Federal Police. They gave us all of the specific instructions and copies of the exact paperwork that we would need to hand in to the Police. I still need to go to the bank to pay the bills and have then take those receipts with me when I go to register. I will have to take my passport, the receipts, my visa application sheet (I received in the U.S. from the consulate), copies of every nonblank page in my passport (I got at the university for a small fee), the sheet marking the appointment (I received through the office), two pictures with a white background taken and cut to the proper size and hopefully nothing else. It’ll be a long day to get it all taken care of and I’ll be doing little things along the way, but once I had all the information (and a ton of help), it wasn’t as stressful or as frustrating as it had seemed.
**UPDATE July 5th, 2017**
My roommate and I went back finally to pick up our Brazilian IDs yesterday, in celebration of the US Independence Day. However, my mother’s name was spelt wrong. I had signed off on a sheet of paper and it had been spelt wrong there too, but I didn’t notice. The little voice in my head told me not to say anything, sign for it, and call it a day…but I opened my mouth and now I have to take proof of her spelling into the place so that they can send out for a new one to be made…and then I have to go pick it up eventually. Yuck.