Testing…

First shots with the Nikon D80…

Plant

Flower

Drops

The weather wasn’t good and I didn’t have much to shoot but these didn’t turn out too bad. I’m still trying to figure out the depth of field since the telephoto lens behaves a little different from the normal lens I had on my film SLR… I know this sounds like impossible jargon for most of you, but I promise that when I’m settled into our new place and we start going out for photo shoots, I’ll explain a little better what all these technical terms mean… Meanwhile, if you speak Portuguese, check out this blog.

Entering the DSLR bandwagon…

What a birthday!! After much research, practicing with a film SLR, and indecision if this was the right thing to do, Alan and I went to Vistek and he got me a Nikon D80 as a birthday present – or sort of… Being a standard lens girl myself, I shunned the kit zoom lens for a nice and trusty Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens. What does that mean? It means I have no zoom but I get sharper images and more flexibility for getting nice pictures at low light without using a flash.

Here’s the camera right out of the box:

In the box

Outside

Lens

I’m now waiting impatiently for the battery to charge so I can start testing!

Canadian customer service

We decided to order a pizza for dinner. Alan and I didn’t have any cash on us so we wanted to pay with a credit card – no problem, the lady at pizza delivery said. It’ll take 35 mins. We sat outside in the sun to wait and we missed their phone call to inform us that their credit card machine wasn’t working. After over one hour waiting, we called them to find out about our pizza. They explained the problem and asked if we had cash. Alan explained we didn’t have any cash since we had just arrived from abroad. We asked them to cancel our order, they told us they’d deliver our pizza free of charge and apologized for the inconvenience.  We’ve just finished eating our free large pizza –  half all-dressed, half vegetarian.

Now, that’s what I call customer service: not being penalized for something that is not your fault.

Brasil brasileiro

Since this post is aimed mostly at my Brazilian friends, it will be in Portuguese:

Coisas que eu gosto de fazer quando estou no Brasil:

comer arroz, feijão, angu, couve e alguma carne no almoço [faço essas coisas MUITO raramente por aqui]

ir à casa de sucos quantas vezes for possível e passar meia hora escolhendo entre as centenas de frutas disponíveis

tomar caipirinha e comer petiscos nos barzinhos da vida batendo papo sem gastar uma fortuna

comprar blusinhas na Taco e na Hering (nessa última eu gosto de comprar modelitos diferentes das camisetas da campanha do câncer de mama)

comprar havaianas (que estão ficando caras mesmo no Brasil!)

rodízio de sushi

tomar milkshake de ovomaltine do Bob’s

assistir filmes e vídeos de rock com meu irmão

tentar não brigar com a minha mãe

bater papo com minha cunhada

ir à praia ou à montanha (dessa vez fiquei mais em casa mesmo e não fizemos nada)

comer pão de queijo

e por aí vai….

Antigamente eu sentia saudade de certas coisas, certas comidas principalmente. Eu geralmente ia ao Brasil de 6 em 6 meses no mínimo mas por causa dos meus estudos e a mudança para a Espanha ano passado, dessa vez passei quase dois anos sem ir. E não sei se foi essa diferença ou o fato de já estar fora há mais de 8 anos, mas notei que algumas coisas mudaram. Já não gosto tanto de comer feijão com arroz todo santo dia. Acho o feijão – apesar de adorar – pesado para a digestão. O excesso de carne também me deixa bem “estufada” e com as gengivas doendo depois de uma semana. Já não me sinto mais segura por lá. Fico chocada com a política e a falta de esperanças de que as coisas melhorem. Senti um choque cultural que me incomodou um pouco – por isso o post mais abaixo em ingles.

Mas fazer o que… é a vida…

Back to Toronto!

We got back early this morning and the next week or so will be devoted to moving. June 1st we get the apartment, the move is scheduled for June 6th.

Toronto from the plane:

Toronto skyline

Toronto - city within a park

One of the things that most impressed Alan and I when we first moved to Toronto was the greenness of this city. We probably expected some gray monstrosity and were pleasantly surprised to see that the slogan “City within a park” is not far off as you can see in the picture above.

Changes caused by immigration

As mentioned in the post below, I’ve recently been asked to participate in a study of Brazilian immigrants in Ontario. It remined me of a very interesting study that I heard of at LAS at U of T on the political participation and civic engagement of Latin American immigrants in Canada. Conducted by Daniel Schugurensky, Gisela Vanzaghi, and Jorge Gimeniewicz, the study focused on Latin American immigrants from Spanish America and didn’t include Brazilians. I thought the questions asked where really good and I would like to answer them here. First I’ll give the questions in the original Spanish and I’ll then translate them to English:

Qué cambios en valores y actitudes ha experimentado desde que vive en Canadá? A qué atribuye estos cambios? i.e. cree usted que a partir de vivir en Canadá tiene una actitud diferente con respecto a personas de otras razas o de otros países, o grupos que en su país de origen son discriminados? Ha cambiado su actitud sobre el medio ambiente, o sobre las leyes y las normas cívicas? Siente esos cambios y valores cuando viaja a su país de origen, o cuando se encuentra con nuevos inmigrantes?

What kind of change in attitude and values have you experiences since you arrived in Canada? To what do you attribute these changes? i.e. Do you think that since you came to Canada you have developed a different attitude towards people of other races and nationalities, or groups that are discriminated against in your country of origin? Have you canged you attitude towards the environment, laws and civic norms? Do you feel these changes and new values when you travel to your country of origin or when you meet new immigrants?

I have definitely changed a great deal since I first came to Canada, particularly in terms of political engagement and civic responsibilities. It’s hard to say exactly what caused these changes. It’s not that I disrespected the law or discriminated against minorities before, but now I’m much more sensitive about these things.

Gap between rich & poor – I now notice, when I’m in Brazil, if a building has a separate entrance and elevator for servants. I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to it before but now it leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.

Attitude against people who are different – Meeting so many people from different countries destroyed my prejudices one by one and allowed me to see that underneath all the varnish of culture, language, and religion, we are all basically the same.

The environment – In Brazil, I used to vacilate between taking the environment for granted and thinking it was a thing for radical greenpeace activists. I now worry about it and try to incorporate environment-friendly measures into my own life. Granted, this might not have been caused by a change of country but rather by a change in international concerns, but the average person doesn’t seem that worried about it in Brazil. Talking to my family about efforts in Toronto and Barcelona to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in landfills by reducing the number of bags we take at grocery stores, the attitude I got was of suspicion of the motives behind these efforts. The general idea was that store owners were trying to cheat them out of free plastic bags, as if plastic bags were some sort of God-given right.

Government and the public good – I take more time thinking about to whom I want to give my vote. I am more conscious that the money spent on infrastructure, schools, health, and public safety come from my pocket and therefore I expect it to be well spent. I’ve always believed in political participation, that one needs to vote to be able to complain about politicians and the way the country is being run. But now I think that voting cannot be mandatory. That politicians have to be convincing enough to lure people out of their homes to vote for them.

The list goes on and it includes everything from the inability to mix rice and potatoes to a newfound fear of excess salt and sugar. I don’t always know how to deal with these changes when I visit my family. I don’t want to sound like those people who think they know it all just because they live abroad. So I’m constantly torn between not saying anything about things I object to, and saying something and being considered radical, annoying, or worse.

What about you? Has your experience abroad  changed you in a way that makes you uncomfortable when you go home?

Brasileiros em Ontario

This post will be in Portuguese since it’s directed at Brazilians living in Ontario…

Estudos sobre a comunidade brasileira no Canadá são muito raros e geralmente os brasileiros são estudados como parte de um grupo mais genérico de imigrantes latino-americanos. Pesquisadores da University of Western Ontario querem retificar essa situação e estão buscando informações sobre brasileiros residentes na província de Ontário. O projeto chama Brasil Mostra a Tua Cara e é coordenado pelo Centro de Informação Comunitária Brasil Angola .

Se você é brasileiro(a) e gostaria de participar do estudo, você pode obter mais informações no blog do Gean. Para responder o questionário anônimo click no link direto:

http://centrobrasilangola.org/brasilmostratuacara/chamada.asp

Eu já respondi o questionário! Não sei se há muitos brasileiros ontarianos passando por aqui, mas fica o recado…

May 17th: International Day Against Homophobia

LogoAs Denise and Regina have recently pointed out, yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia. I think the first time I became aware of homophobia was when I was about 12 years old. All my friends were crazy about this particular movie star – the name escapes me now – but then he came out and confessed he was gay. Suddenly, my friends hated him. I asked them why and they said it was because he was gay. “But he’s still the same actor!” I said. I mean, as far as I understood homosexuality then unless you were the guy’s wife, why should you care if he’s gay or straight?

I confess I didn’t have many gay friends in Brazil. Not for any conscious decision on my part but because I really didnt know many people who were openly gay. Now I know that Brazil is not the sort of place where you’d dare to be openly gay.

I have many gay friends in Canada. One of Alan’s best friends is gay and has lived with the same partner for 30 years. They are highly successful people and some of the most engaged, thinking, caring people I know. We now live in Toronto’s gay village in an apartment building inhabited mostly by gay men. We feel very welcomed in the neighbourhood – despite being straight – and have made many friends there. Both Alan and I take very personally if anyone ever says anything against homosexuals. For the most part, it seems that the GLT movement has achieved a degree of equality in Canada -couples of the same sex can get married and adopt children, and pursue carreers of their choice. From tenured academic job to the top spots of the corporate world, I’ve met gays and lesbians at every level of society in Canada but one of the things that impressed me the most was to see so many straight families taking their small children to see the Gay Pride Parade in Toronto. Talking to one of them, they said they wanted their kids to be exposed to and accepting of difference. They also wanted them to have a positive image of gay people. I think that’s where tolerance begins…

But of course Canada is not perfect. Two gay men were recently murdered in Nova Scotia and while it’s still unclear whether the murders were motivated by homophobia, the police has issued warnings to gay men in the area and has started patrolling more intensely areas where they cruise.

The following passage comes from the Canadian site homophobie.org explaining International Day Against Homophobia:

In Canada, recognition, for lesbian and gay communities, has been first and foremost a judicial acceptance brought about by the adoption of the Charter of Human Rights. However, judicial advances will remain only that until a complete, unlimited social acceptance of homosexuality is achieved and homophobia wiped out. To achieve this goal, the Fondation Émergence proposed in 2003, along with partners, to hold each year a special day dedicated to the social recognition of homosexual experience.

Philosophy of the Event

Few minority groups have been as discriminated against as the gays and lesbians. But major breakthroughs have occurred, and homosexual people are stepping out of the shadows. From the outside, it could be construed that all problems have been solved. The media are sympathetic, public personalities come out, television shows feature lesbian and gay characters in scenes of everyday life. Nevertheless, the reality is quite different. Many individuals are unable to live their sexual orientation, encounter difficulties if they do, or end up role-playing to protect themselves.

Despite these dire situations, the implementation of the International Day Against Homophobia should not rest on a “victimization“ philosophy. In fact, the Day may be seen as a great opportunity to highlight positive aspects of homosexuality and celebrate the contribution of lesbians and gays to society.

Target Audience

Homophobia is an insidious process that channels its effects through subtle, usually transparent ways. No one is safe from hostile manifestations to homosexuality. Quite surprisingly, many homosexual individuals themselves adopt homophobic behaviour, hoping it would protect them against prejudice from their entourage. The International Day Against Homophobia aims to reach all groups of society, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Becoming Involved

An International Day Against Homophobia belongs to no one individual. It’s about all people hoping for a prejudice-free world that can provide a place at the table for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. Inspired by all world theme-days, the day set aside to fight homophobia needs to be appropriated by all of those actively involved in civil society: gay and lesbian community organisations, those organisations focusing on other types of sexual diversity, unions, employers, private businesses, governments, public administration, professional associations, and all individuals seeking equality.

 

TTC to the airport & arriving in Brazil

Alan and I are big believers in taking TTC (Toronto Transit Commission – our local public transit) to the airport.  Since we only travel with what we can bring on board with us, taking public transit to airports is not so difficult. From our place in downtown Toronto, it usually takes us about 45 min to get to the airport (20-25 min on the subway, 10 min on a bus, plus any waiting time in between) but this time we left earlier since we were staying with friends at the east end of the city and the airport was on the west end. We were surprised how quickly we got to the airport. With the exception of one station further east, we travelled the whole lenght of the green line! From Warden to Kipling we passed 29 stations and it took us only 45 mins!  We were in our terminal exactly one hour after Pearl dropped us off at the subway station. Oh, did I mention it was rush hour?? Not bad at all…

In the end we had plently of time to spare at the airport… There were no line ups at the electronic check-in kyosks, no line up at security… Our flight took off an hour late because of the thunderstorm in Toronto but we made some time along the way and arrived in Sao Paulo about half an hour late. We were the first ones off the airplane and the first ones through customs. I then whipped through the duty free store at the baggage handling area to buy a perfume my mom ordered and out we went to greet my parents. It took us only 20 mins from walking out of the airplane to hugging my parents. Once you start travelling with only carry-on luggage, there’s no going back…

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about the first few days here.