Lost and confused

After just laying around for a couple of days like cats in the sun, Lara and I decided that we probably needed to get our class schedules figured out BEFORE Carnaval started, especially since school started the Thursday after Ash Wednesday. Our professor told us where we needed to go and how to get there. We would take the ônibus Circular and get off at Shopping Benfica, next door to the university. Then all we would have to do was find the pink building and everything would be hunky dory. Yeah. Right. Half the buildings on the Benfica campus are pink. And they aren’t even on the same block. So after wandering around for about an hour and getting directions from different people, we managed to find the Reitoria (equivalent of the building where the chancellor’s office would be). Turns out the lady we needed to talk to was on holiday and only came in to the office in the mornings, so we had to return on Monday.

Monday, February 13th. Might as well have been Friday 13th for the whole week. I’ve come to realize that buses and myself just aren’t compatible. After a few borderline traumatic experiences in Rio, I figured I finally had everything under control. How different could the bus system in Fortaleza be? Ha. Well, in case it isn’t completely obvious, there is a HUGE difference between Circular and Grande Circular. First of all, the bus numbers aren’t even the same: 11 vs 51. I’m going to blame the nerves/anxious energy for the fact that I only saw “Circular” on the bus when I decided to jump on. So, we’re sitting on the bus, chatting, excited about finally getting our schedules when the bus, instead of turning towards Centro essentially got on the highway and kept going straight towards the outskirts of Fortaleza. I started freaking out. Then Lara mentioned that we had gotten on Grande Circular as opposed to regular Circular. I think I tried to shrug it off saying the bus would probably pass through Benfica anyways. Hah! After 4 bus terminals, 3 hours and 2 buses (we had to switch at one of the terminals), we were back at our apartment where the bus had picked us up in the first place. True to its name, bus #51 does indeed make one BIG circle around Fortaleza. I was freaking out the entire time haha, but it did give us a chance to “tour” Fortaleza and see some parts of town we probably wouldn’t have seen. It struck me how similar the outer parts of Fortaleza were to places I’ve seen in Nicaragua, like Masaya. The roads had that dusty, broken cobblestone character.

Needless to say, we didn’t make it to the university on Monday, but we did return on Tuesday, the day the weather decided to dump a torrential downpour on the city. We showed up in the Coordinadoria de Assuntos Internacionais (International Affairs Office) looking like pathetic, abandoned, drowned kittens. The lady in the office just looked at us and handed us a huge stack of paper towels to dry off with while she got all our paperwork together. (Oh and the security guard yelled at me for wearing shorts. We’re assuming it’s a respect thing and I should’ve been wearing pants or something.) We had to return the next day to get a letter from her to take to the Pro-Reitoria on the Pici campus to get our finals schedules, since the Pici campus is the “technology” aka engineering, science and math campus. Wednesday ended up being another long frustrating day. We didn’t really know what office we were supposed to go to, so we would just walk up to people show them our letters, point to the guy’s name, and say we had to talk to him. Then, once we found him, we found out that we had ALL the course codes incorrect.

At this point, I’m about ready to just give up on life, so we walked around looking for Dr. André’s office. Think he might’ve put out a notice saying if anyone saw two gringas walking around looking really really lost to just direct to him. We passed some random professor on the sidewalk and he stopped us and asked if we were looking for André haha and took us to the correct office. It was so comforting to see a familiar face! And we finally had Internet access on our computers!! André helped us set up our schedules and he sent an email to the lady in the international office with our classes so we wouldn’t have to bounce back and forth again. Then we went to lunch with André, one of his grad students and another professor.

We were supposed to go back to the international office on Thursday to get our letters and repeat the process, but Josh, Lara’s friend from college arrived in the country, so we just chilled at home and waited for him. Friday we went back to the Benfica and Pici campuses and finally got our schedules! I ended up not taking Linear Algebra because the only times the class was offered would’ve resulted in me trying to make it back home on the bus late at night, which is just sketchy. So after we got our schedules, the three of us are chilling on the Internet in the grad student room when Lara realized that one of her classes was the wrong course. Fortunately, André just emailed the international office and convinced them to fax a new copy of the letter, so Lara was able to get her schedule fixed that same day! Fate smiled on us and we managed to get everything completed just in time for Carnaval!

Sorry I didn’t have any pictures to go with this post. Até a próxima vez!

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~ by dfsg1991 on March 25, 2012.

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