Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lyon's Contemporary Art Museum

Yesterday, I went to the Contemporary Art Museum to see the new exhibits, which opened this past Friday and run through the end of December. One of the exhibits focused on the composer John Cage and his collaboration work with other artists and choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and Sol Lewitt. The two floors of the museum displaying his work consist not only of his scores, but also listening activities and the videos of his collaborations.  

The third floor exhibits the artists La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela and their work,Dream House. Here is a link demonstrating what the exhibit was like!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Heart of Granada: La Alhambra

This past week I was afforded the opportunity to visit La Alhambra. La Alhambra is a very old Muslim stronghold that was taken over by the Christians several hundred years ago. La Alhambra has been recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO and I can understand why! It is absolutely fabulous. We went on a three hour tour of it because it is so big! There is a giant garden that is gorgeous and a palace area and many places in between. The architecture is absolutely outstanding, the attention to detail is very impressive. I love how old architecture pays so much attention to all of the little things unlike modern architecture which is mostly just cement and dry wall. There were also breathtaking views of the city of Granada as well which I adored. That was probably my favorite part. Another cool thing I really liked were the fountains that were connected throughout one of the main plazas. This plaza had a lion fountain in the middle of it and there were surrounding rooms that were connected to the plaza and there were paths on the floor leading from the main fountain to the smaller ones in the surrounding rooms. I had never seen anything like that before so it was very cool.
Besides visiting La Alhambra I haven't done too much sight seeing because I have been preparing for my big exam on Monday. Life here is pretty easy and fun! I've been enjoying taking walks around the city and going out for tapas with my friends. I miss home a little but being here is worth it!


Top 10 Cultural Differences I've Noticed In Florianopolis

10.  The people here in Florianopolis love hotdogs.  When I lived with my host family, it was common to see hotdogs cut up in a prepared salad or pasta dish.  Even around town, it is common to see popular outside restaurants or stands that solely sell grilled hot dogs and drinks.  What make the hotdog so popular is the toppings.  Unlike in the US, where the typical hotdog is topped with mustard, ketchup and relish, the toppings here include things like peas, corn, dried potatoes that resemble those things typically used in the US on a green bean salad, fried onions, cheese and a type of pickled peppers.  The bread resembles a cross between the typical hotdog and hamburger buns.  The bun is grilled as well.  It is actually a hearty and tasty sandwich.  In the picture, somewhere, underneath all that stuff is a hotdog.
9.  In the US, if a person is hungry, that person will find a restaurant open somewhere to satisfy that hunger regardless of the time.  Here in Florianopolis, that is not the case.  All restaurants do not open for lunch and dinner.  Some restaurants open only for lunch and some open only for dinner.  Restaurants open for lunch from 11:30 to approximately 3:00, and restaurants open for dinner around 6:30 p.m. and close around 11:30 or so.  If a person becomes hungry between the end of lunch and the beginning of dinner, there are several small restaurants where people can buy a natural juice drink and have a small “pastel,” which is usually filled with cheese, chicken or beef.

8.  Having a microwave is a privilege.  I recently moved into my own apartment and decided that I wanted the convenience of a microwave.  After all, in the US, the microwave is as much a part of kitchenware as eating utensils.  To my surprise, the smallest microwave that would cost $50 in the US that can easily be picked up in Wal-Mart, Target or the General Dollar Store, cost here in Brazil about $150.  Well, I’ve learned that warming up leftovers in the oven is actually not that bad.

7.  Having a clothes dryer is a luxury.  It actually gets cold here in Florianopolis.  Without a clothes dryer, it can take clothes up to three days to dry using the old method of hanging clothes outdoors on the clothes line if it’s not raining or indoors on a “rack” if it is cold.  When I lived with my host family, the home had a washer.  Washers here are small and typically take about 2 hours to wash a load of clothes regardless of the batch size.  There are no laundry mats similar to what is common in the US.  Most laundry is washed by hand or sent out to a lavaria.  A lavaria is similar to our dry cleaners except they wash everything from underwear to beddings to dry cleaning.   The cost is based on weight for general daily wear, towels and bedding.  Other items that require special care are priced on a per item basis.

6.  You can count on one or two institutions being on “strike” every month.  In the short time that I have been here, four institutions have been on strike or are currently on strike.  The first strike involved the federal universities and the federal police.  Both were critical because the strike involving the federal universities prevented undergraduate students from returning to school on time, and without the federal police working, the streets were unsafe in some of the most dangerous cities in Brazil, such as Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo.  Currently the banks and the post offices are on strike. 

5.  Weekends are for partying, relaxing, going to the beach and enjoying family and friends.  This is a wonderful thing, but I have struggled with it, as have probably many Americans that have spent a great deal of time in Brazil.  As Americans, we are accustomed to consistently working on something.  On the weekends, I have consistently looked for a library or quiet place to study or read, to no avail.  The public library does not open on the weekends and UNISUL’s library (the university that I am attending) is open from 8:00-12:00 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.  The library at UFSC, the local federal university, is open until 5:00 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. 

4.  The wash cloth or “face towel” is not typically used here in Brazil by adults.  What is referred to in the US as the “hand towel” is actually the “face towel” here in Brazil.   This is true, even in hotels.  The rooms have hand towels and the regular towels used to dry the body, but they never have the small towels typically used in the US to wash the body.  Even in stores where towels are sold, it is difficult to find the small wash cloths.  To find a towel small enough to be used to wash the body, I have had to go to the section of the store that sells baby items. 

3.  Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages in public, at various times throughout the day, is very much a part of the culture here in Florianรณpolis.  Tables and chairs are setup in the Marcado Publico (the public market) for this purpose beginning at the lunch period and continuing until about 7:00 p.m., when the public market closes.  The legal drinking age in Brazil is 18.  It is not uncommon to see persons walking the street or standing in the supermarket drinking a beer. 

2.  Under no circumstance should toilet tissue be thrown in the toilet.  It is thrown in the waste paper basket.  This was weird at first, but I guess if you do anything over a period of time, you simply get use to it.  

1.  Voting is mandatory.  In Brazil, voting is an obligation.  Failure to vote will affect everything attached to the use of the individual’s social security number.  There are pros and cons attached to this obligation.  In some regions, there are some politicians that hold a lot of power over workers.  Because of this power over the workers, the politicians can demand their votes and remain in office.