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Releasing my Inner Jack Bauer

I have never felt threatened while walking the street of London, but now I am a bit apprehensive. A coworker and friend had her purse snatched, just like you see on TV cop shows. It happened so fast that she couldn’t even scream. It was one of those grab and run encounters every woman fears. Now I am thinking of learning a few self defense moves. I won’t carry a concealed weapon although it is perfectly legal if you have a permit. I prefer some recommendations for the average woman confronting an assailant. Most of them do not carry guns either, but it can happen. I have heard horror stories about victims being sued by robbers because they were injured in some way. This is indeed a reversal of fortune. While it is rare, I wanted to know more about defending myself legally in a manner that will not entail repercussions.

I don’t have time to attend a martial arts class, although it is certainly a great idea. I might resort to it later. For now, I am going to watch one of my favorite shows, 24, to get some basic ideas. My husband Gus is leery and appreciates my efforts, but he has reminded me that there is a big difference between what is done by Jack Bauer and what I can do on the streets of London. Of course, I know this but I am looking for inspiration as a start to a new self defense program.

Jack may be fictional but he has the moves when needed. He is a highly-trained agent in Los Angeles (also working with the FBI in Washington, D.C. He would be a good role model—better than Jackie Chan, who is super human. So, Jack, teach me some tricks! He employs a combination of martial arts techniques taking the best that each has to offer. He is an expert at hand-to-hand combat and can do it at the drop of a hat. Will I ever be that proficient?

While I enjoyed watching episode after episode as I skimmed through many seasons, I knew in my heart that most of these moves would be illegal. Isn’t it like the law against professional boxers using their fists as weapons outside of the ring? They are as deadly as knives and guns. I would never be able to master any of Jack’s methods but it was fun to witness him in action. Now that I have come to this realization, what can I do? I can carry a can of mace to immobilize an assailant or go so far as to buy a stun gun. Would I have the moxie to use it? In a crisis situation, you have to think very fast. I know there are other products such as collapsible police-style batons and body alarms. Any of them will do.

I love living in London with Gus and don’t want to fear walking the streets alone. Most often we go as a pair when we want to stroll at night and we avoid dark places. So far so good.

Life in London: Never Look Back

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Being Brazilian in England is often a big adjustment.  I come from a very loving and heritage-rich family and a culture that is equally as strong.  I have unbreakable ties to my home country and love it dearly but I adore my stay abroad as well.

My decision to leave was a difficult one but I had to follow my heart.  With the blessings of my dear Papa and my mother as well, I set sail to find what my dreams held in store for me.  I enrolled in school in London and left without looking back.

The language was a bit of a barrier. Although my first language is Portuguese, I have spoken English since I was a child but it is different actually communicating and in London, they have an English all their own.  I didn’t fanny around.  I determined to speak English in England and nothing else.  I have managed to be successful and think that I do quite well.

Brazil is a hodgepodge of cultures so I am quite used to skins of all colors and languages as well so that was not a shock.  The culture shock I experienced was that for the first time, I was the fish out of water.  The main thing I had to remember was not to panic.

I miss my family so much.  We keep in touch through phone calls and via the internet.  It is fun to Skyppe with my father who is not technically savvy at all.  But he loves and misses me so he has learned and I find that to be heartwarming.  My sisters have come to visit and that was fun.   I go back as often as I can but cannot afford to do so that often.  I have met some beautiful people here but still, I miss my family and extended family back home.

It can be scary being in a different country.  Its things like the difference in traditions and holidays that probably hit me the hardest.  There are some holidays that Brazil shares with England like Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Life goes on as usual in London when Brazil is busy celebrating Children’s Day, All Soul’s Day and Tiradentes’ Day.  That is odd to me but I just try to do something within my day that reminds me of what I would be doing if I was at home.

I miss the music of home too and the dancing too.  I love a good Samba.  Forro music is a passion of mine.  It is country music, Brazil style.  Believe it or not, I really enjoy square dancing.  Of course I put my own signature moves on it.

Brazilian food is the best in the world, in my opinion and of course, I miss that tremendously.  My mother is the best cook I have ever known so I grew up accustomed to the best Brazilian food on the dinner table every night.  Feijoada is the dish I miss the most.

I have found a few cracking Brazilian restaurants in London.  There is one in particular that I frequent because it is authentic Brazilian cosine.  I try to eat at one of the locations every few weeks so I don’t miss the home food too much.

Living in London is triumph and tribulation at the same time.  It’s a whole different life than it was in Brazil but I take with me the things and the people of Brazil in my heart and in London, I am finding room for more.

Home is Where the Heart Beats

Home is Where the Heart Beats

There are a lot of similarities that Brazil and England have in common I have learned during my two year stay in London.  There are a whole lot of things that are different too.

One of the things I find alike about the two countries is that they both have their share of cultural mixes.  Where I lived in Rio de Janeiro, there were a huge array of skin colors, nationalities and languages as well.  I find the same is true in London.  I suppose the fact that they are major cities may play a part in the fact.

Another thing that is similar is that families seem to have close ties in England as they do in Brazil although maybe not quite as much so.  Holidays and vacations are often spent with family members I can tell because I see them enjoying the park and visiting the sites, hand in hand.  Take the Royal Family for instance.  The fact that the entire family is so prominent shows that England respects family that consist of parents and children as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on.

In Brazil, our family bonds are strong.  Family is everything.  Although the family unit is pretty much the same as the English, we extend our kinship to distant relatives and even in-laws and in-laws of our in-laws.  Friends are oftentimes even considered family.

One way in which the two cultures are different is that in Brazil, family members usually continue to be close, even after marriage.  That doesn’t just mean close at heart either.  It is pretty common for the new couple to move right down the road from the family.  Now you can understand the drama that accompanied my decision to move to England and leave my family in Brazil.  We have since gotten it sorted but at first, it was not alright and my family was furious and very hurt.

Another difference between the cultures in the two countries is the food.  It is much cheaper to eat healthy in my homeland.  It seems the fresher the food in England, the more expensive it is.  That does, indeed, make it difficult for students and the lower income people to eat properly.

The difference in the food we eat is vast for the most part.  In Brazil, we eat a good share of meat, beans and rice.  We also eat cassava which is a bitter sweet root and is a mainstay for us.  It is hard to find in England and is practically never used in cooking.  That is odd to me.

Potatoes are abundant in England and you are likely to find them in all manners such as baked, stewed, fried and even in dishes like fish and chips.  Potatoes are not found as freely in Brazil.

I love feijoada.  My mother prepares the best.  It is made with black beans and meat, my preference is when it’s made with pork.  It must be spiced just right.  When I have found it in London, it is lacking the pizzazz that my mother’s has but it is better than not having it at all.

Family, food and the mixing of foreigners are things that Brazil and England have in common and at the same time, those things are worlds apart in other ways.  Funny how when I am feeling adventurous and brave, I seek the differences out and celebrate them but when I am lonely and homesick, I look for ways in which I am reminded of home.  Perhaps it is true, or I hope it is, that no matter how far I am from my home, it’s really just a heartbeat away.

What a Tangled Web We Design

Web design is my passion.  Several year ago, I left the comfort of my home country of Brazil and relocated in London, England to study.  I learned state of the art technology and learned it from the best of the best.  But what attracted me to web design in the first place?

One reason I chose to go into web design is the demand for it.  The internet is exploding constantly.  Every day there are more sites and more people going into an online business endeavor.  It isn’t likely that the internet boom has an end anytime soon so I wanted to be part of it.

I also wanted something that did not tie me down to one particular spot.  I love to travel and to try new things and live in new places so I wanted a skill I could easily pack up and take with me, no matter where I end up.  Now that I am through school, I do have a job in London but I am still mobile if I wish to be.

So along with the supply and demand being right on target for web design, the main reason I chose the field is the ability to use my creative skills.  I can be artistic and use my imagination too.  I can blend what I think looks and feels good with what my client wants and come up with a fantastic site.

My favorite thing to do is to make something out of nothing.  I like taking an idea and making it happen.  When a client comes to me with scattered pieces of his or her dream and usually little to no details of how to go about it or final product requests, it’s up to me to figure it out and to put the puzzle together.  I don’t always get it right and sometimes it is a painstaking process that requires redo after redo but the end result is incredible.

It take skill to design a web site.  That’s what is taught in school.  There’s more to it than most can even imagine and what you do in HTML is generally not as you would expect when you flip over to the way it will look on the page.  That is something you learn with time and get a feel for.

Flash is my forte.  I just love learning more and more about it and really like animation effects too.  Color psychology is intriguing to me.  And the funny thing is that it tends to really be true that people react certain ways to certain colors.  I incorporate color psychology into all my work and any other psychology I can rustle up as well.

Graphics are ultra- important.  There’s an art to graphics too but also there are technical aspects that must be addressed.  There are rules to follow that will help make the design successful.  There is still lot of room for creativity too though.

It takes diligence and patience to design web sites.  HTML is not easy at first and can be challenging even for the more advanced.  It can be technical which can get boring and that is when I keep the end product in mind.

I am a very organized person which certainly helps in web design.  Everything has a place and I like everything to be in that place.  It’s important to be organized and to be precise also.

Web design is perfect for me.  It gives me flexibility but also offers a stable platform for which I can build my career.  I feel knowing web design gives me an upper edge in a field that is known for its cutting edge.

The Dynamics of “24”

I am a huge, huge fan of the show “24”.  I cannot get enough of the action packed episodes and all the wonderful characters that I have come to know and love…or detest.  I have my favourites, of course.  Some I love and some I love to hate.

Let’s begin with Jack Bauer.  Jack is a federal agent but he has an approachable and very likeable air about him.  He’s always saving the day.  He’s cute too and comes from good blood in real life.  Donald Sutherland is his father and is a superb actor who was in some really awesome movies like “The Hunger Games”.

Chloe O’Brian is so me.  She is always doing favors that are not on her list of things to do that often get her in a bit of trouble.  She goes above and beyond but doesn’t stay within the descriptions of her duties.  She is very intelligent and is Jack’s trusted co-worker.  I like her and can relate her in many ways.

Gotta love Tony Almeida.  He is just plain good at what he does.  He’d better be for he is the highest paid member of the cast.  Tony is always the character in suspense and I love that.  You just never know what’s going to happen with him.

The show teaches me a lot about real life every time I watch it and maybe that is why I love it so.  I learn the importance of being a leader and how to be a good one.  There’s a huge responsibility that comes along with being a leader.  To be a good leader, you have to not only give orders but do so in a way in which others respond to.  I guess I have learned the most about leadership form Jack.

Being a good team player is important in life too.  That is easily learned in the show.  Chloe is one of the best to learn from.  She goes the extra mile and I respect that and do that in my own life as well.  Sometimes there are those who are pulling the opposite way, just like in real life, but when it all comes down to it, the goal is accomplished with everyone works together.

There are personality traits and quirky characteristics about all of the roles played on the show.  That is just how it is in everyday life.  We all have our bad side and hopefully, our good side as well.  It’ that coming together with tolerance and acceptance and that feeling of comradery that sets the tone for the show and makes it the classic that it will always be.

I can watch “24” over and over again and in fact, I do.  My friends and my husband don’t understand why I am such an obsessed fan and sometimes, neither do I.  Every time I flip it on and settle in for another episode, I get a warm feeling, like I am at home.  I am from Brazil and live in London so feeling like I am at home with my favourite people is a warm and wonderful thing.

A Brazilian in London: Trials and Triumphs of a Girl Just Finding Her Way in Life

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Living in London is exciting and challenging at the same time. As a transplant from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the adjustment has been a life-changing one for me. In this new and barmy country, I have lived to learn and learned to live.

I came to London to study web design at one of the most notorious schools in the field. At first I was lost. Everything seemed so outrageously expensive but I soon learned the ins and outs of student living on a shoestring budget. I found the coffeehouses with internet access and also the places I could afford to eat at.

It rains a lot in London. It’s a much different rain that we have in Brazil. Brazil is known for having the largest raindrops on earth but I believe that London has many more of them. London can get blooming cold too. It’s a wet cold that I was not accustomed to at first. But proudly I can say that I have acclimated and don’t too much notice the weather at all any longer.

I was petrified to take the tube for the first time. I occasionally ride a folding bicycle when the weather allows but that is not so often. Compared to a cab, the tube is bugger all so I really had no choice but to learn to ride it. I had heard tale of people being pushed under it during rush hour and was shaking with fear when I first did it but now, two years later, I must admit that I am a pro. The tube is cracking now that I have mastered it.

The pubs here in London are just as I had imagined. Oftentimes in the winter you will find a fire ablaze and picked eggs for the taking. I am an avid sports fan so I fit right in to the scene. I also like a good ale.

I actually met my husband at the pub I frequent so pubs are close to my heart. Funny, but I thought Piccadilly Circus was an actual circus with elephants, clowns and dogs jumping through hoops. Was I ever surprised! Piccadilly Circus is actually a road junction on the West End of town where you can find an underground theatre, fabulous shopping and a whole lot of fun. Gus and I still jump the tube and head on over at least once a week.

I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a number of students and others from Brazil which makes me feel closer to home. We dine out regularly and one special friend was even in my wedding party. We
share memories of home and comical stories of when we first arrived in London.

I have been fortunate enough to land a great job here. That is not easy to do for I have heard it said that you need to have family in London to get a job in the city at all. Such is not the case. I attribute my new career to the excellent schooling I have received which is chuffed, for sure.

Being a Brazilian in London is challenging but it is wonderful too. I love my home country but would not trade my experiences here for anything. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.