Day one is officially in the books here in Rio de Janeiro. My overnight flight (7/20/16) out of JFK landed me in Brazil early Thursday morning groggy-eyed for sure, but rushing with adrenaline and excitement.
The range of emotions I came to cherish during my time abroad in Europe last fall came flushing back as I stepped foot outside the airport onto the fourth different continent of my lifetime. Right off the bat, Brazilian culture reminded me of Spain’s and I felt at home. But much of my first day introduced me to the type of aspects which set Brazil apart from other countries I’ve visited.
Brazil’s official language is Portuguese. Unfortunately, it’s not Spanish! However, I did have some success in finding natives who knew enough Spanish to hold a conversation. There’s nothing I dislike more than not being able to interact with an individual strictly due to the language barrier. I hope to improve my Portuguese throughout my stay.
The first meaningful conversation I had in Rio was in the airport. American Airlines had relocated my seat several times and apparently it drew some attention. 23-year-old Charlie Gibson, a Manchester native, couldn’t help but notice the trouble I had with my flight (I later found out he, too, had his own issues as his seat wouldn’t recline the whole night). We exited the plane together and passed through customs, chatted about sports and realized we have one major theme in common: we’re both working for major networks at the 2016 Olympics. Charlie’s volunteering at CNN, while I’m working as a runner for NBC’s Today Show. Charlie and I may be with rival networks, but I’m psyched to have a new friend in a foreign place who’s up for exploring the city.
Not long after retrieving my suitcase, I met up with my fellow Today Show runners flying and traveling from different parts of Brazil, London, Texas and Virginia. It didn’t take long for us to bond as a group. For the next month we’ll be working diligently together in close quarters on the Copacabana Beach. I’m looking forward to developing lifelong friendships with this talented and diverse group of people.
Another key takeaway from my first day in Rio de Janeiro is that it’s winter here! I was stunned seeing many natives bundled up in the 60 degree rainy weather as I comfortably walked the street in khakis and a polo. Looking ahead at the forecast, next week could hit 80 degrees so it’s definitely an unpredictable time of the year to be visiting.
Our final stretch of the day was dedicated to familiarizing ourselves with the Today Show set-up area. Each runner is given an international phone for business purposes only. This way we can easily get in contact with each other through text or phone call during our work days. Many of the athletic complexes are far away from each other so it’s going to take organization and a focus to ensure our days run smoothly.
As far as my daily tasks go, I’ll be asked to run cables behind the scenes, escort athletes to and from our interview set for their interview, assist in special story shoots and I would assume work on any kinds of set up and break down. I’m available and willing to do anything and everything.
Tomorrow (Friday, 7/22) marks my first official day on the job as a Today Show runner. I don’t have a great idea as to what this next month will bring, but I couldn’t be more excited to get things started here in Brazil.
Foreign languages aren’t for everyone. Mastering ONE language takes a great deal of skill, patience and determination.
Since I’ve stepped foot in Europe, I’ve been fascinated at how many different languages people my age are familiar with. In a taxi on my way to a Belgium airport, a Tanzanian man told me he’s comfortable speaking up to five different languages.
He acted as though he didn’t realize just how impressive this really is.
Europeans don’t really have a choice, seeing as how traveling from state to state in the United States is almost like traveling from country to country in Europe. The only difference is that many of these countries in Europe have their own languages. Thus, Europeans who are fluent in several languages are usually well-traveled.
Although I can’t say I’m comfortable speaking five different languages, I can say that I’m more comfortable with the language that landed me in Spain.
Through my various excursions to countries with their own languages, I’ve found comfort upon arrival in Madrid after a weekend away.
When you don’t know a lick of German, Italian, Portuguese or Dutch, you can see why hearing Spanish symbolizes home in a sense.
I’ve experienced this feeling and relief the most on the metro in Madrid coming back from the airport. Hostels and futons are economical and all, but they aren’t exactly comfortable after a few days. This is how the typical college student travels on the weekends.
All I know is that when I hear the metro conductor announce, “Próxima parada: Plaza de España,” I know I’m home. (Next stop: Plaza de España)
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