There was no ordinary day in Salvador!
My days at Diálogo always started with breakfast in my homestay. Though I had the option of specifying what I wanted for breakfast, I decided to leave the decision to my family. Coffee, breads, cakes, fresh juices, plantains, and even tapioca pancakes – breakfast was never the same but always satisfying.
Around 8:45 I would leave for the school. Coming down the same hill everyday, I got to know the neighbors walking their dogs or leaving with their kids for school. During my four weeks at Diálogo, I took class every morning from 9 am to 12:30. Arriving at the school with 5 minutes until classes started, I would go upstairs to open the newspaper, paying special attention to the front page and the extensive cultural agenda. Understanding the newspaper was at first one of the biggest challenges of my day, and everyday it got a bit easier.
Our class was usually about 4-6 students. Usually I was the only representative of my country in the room, other students coming from Japan, Switzerland, Germany, France, Colombia…the list goes on. During my four weeks of class, no two days were the same. Though we worked with grammar and conversation everyday, we constantly were introduced to new music, films, television series, magazines, and games.
Our worked in the classroom was punctuated by a break right before 11 am. Gathering around strong coffee and herbal tea, I would talk with my classmates about events going on in the city, plan trips outside the city, and generally recap our experiences of the previous night.
Lunch hour was always full of options. There were always students from the school going out to buffet restaurants (some of the best in the city are 5 minutes away from the school!) or just to grab some of the traditional bahian food from the many food stands along the beach. On top of this, my host family was generous enough to allow me to keep food and snacks in the fridge, so I often relaxed at home, eating lunch and watching the news.
For the first week of my month with Diálogo I decided to do the intensive program, to help me get on my feet with Portuguese. These classes started at 1:30 pm and went until 3:10. The afternoon sessions were smaller, at most 3 students. Here, we could ask more specific questions – about the language, the culture, and the city. In my study of Portuguese, these lessons were important for my confidence and speaking ability.
My nights were always different, and depended on my energy level. When tired I would stay at home, chatting with my host family or watching TV with them. Other nights I would make plans to meet with students, host brothers and sisters, and friends of friends. There were live music shows, dances, parties, films, art exhibitions, and of course there was always relaxing at bars with a drink or a juice, watching the movement on the street.
On the weekends students from the school always planned trips and activities. I tended to stay with my host family, as there always seemed to be something going on. There were birthdays, feijoadas, even trips to nearby beach towns. I was always meeting a new family member, or at least seeing a new place or a new food.
By the end of my four weeks with Diálogo, I felt that I had made serious progress with my Portuguese, but more importantly that I had had a full, busy, tasty, and colorful stay in Salvador.