Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Trip to the States - Four Months Later

Can you tell I'm enjoying my time in the States? I haven't written anything in months! It hasn't all been easy sailing; there are some things I wish I knew or had thought of ahead of time. The good news is: you can learn from my mistakes! Without further ado..

Cell Phone Service: I didn't realize my phone was locked to a Brazilian carrier, since I use a tiny pre-pay plan and I can use other Brazilian carrier sims in my phone. Thus, I had to buy a new (used) phone in order to have any service here. I got away with using home and public WiFi plus my MagicJack app for a while, but not having access to the GPS on my phone made life unnecessarily difficult. I did eventually buy a phone and obtain pre-pay service with AT&T (which, by the way, was fairly easy to set up and only cost $40/month for unlimited talk and text and a small data plan that I've yet to go over).

Haircut: I've been growing my hair out for a while, but just getting it cut straight across the bottom because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to articulate what I wanted at a salon in Brazil. So when I had a free minute one weekend, I popped into a Hair Cuttery-esque salon, whipped out my Pinterest "hairstyles" board, and asked for the long layers I've been waiting for. I guess two years away from the States was enough for me to forget that my hair has been undeniably butchered every single time I've gone to one of these cheap salons. I wish I had just sucked it up and paid the higher price at a decent salon. Here's to growing it out again.... -_-

Driver's License: My driver's license is set to expire in a few days and since I was too busy to drive to New Jersey and renew it in person, I'll be renewing it in Connecticut (where my mom lives and where I list my permanent US address - hey, nomads have to have some type of home base!) Either way, the important thing is that I'm renewing it. A driver's license is an extremely important form of ID (other than a passport or state ID, it's one of the only forms of ID with a photo), and I think I would have been remiss if I had let it expire while overseas.

Eating Whatever I Want: I used to tell my Brazilian neighbors to watch out because I'd be returning from the States as a much fatter woman. I let myself eat whatever I wanted under the excuse, "I can't eat this in Brazil!" As a result, I've put on a lot of weight and am now desperately trying to shed it before we return in just over a month. (Looks like it's time to finally try keto.) On subsequent trips to the States, I'll be sure to keep my diet in check and not go crazy.

Gym Membership: This goes along with eating whatever I want. In Brazil, I walk everywhere. I love it! Everything is nearby and I really don't need to drive too often. I do small exercises at home and eat healthy and that's enough to keep me in shape. I did want to join a gym (see this post), but the payment plan and 12 month membership made me hold off on that idea until we return. A few weeks ago I discovered a gym near my mother's house that has a daycare and tanning and the price was pretty average for other gyms in the area. In hindsight, I really should have sucked it up, looked for a gym at the beginning, and paid for 12 months of membership in the States, even if I would only use the gym for 5 months. It would have been a good way to get out of my mom's hair for a few hours a week and for me to not get so fat.

Long Term Car Rental: I'm without a car here in the States, so we've been relying on borrowing my parents' vehicle and rental cars. I don't think this would have worked as well for this trip, since I have two small kids with me, but I wish I had joined a local car share or looked into taking over an auto lease (yes, you can do that!). Buying a junker crossed my mind, but I think between registration, inspections, and car insurance that it would have been more expensive and cumbersome to have been worth while. I did utilize mass transit, but I'm lucky enough to be close to NYC, so mass transit is plentiful. Side note: I used to use Greyhound to travel from CT to NJ once a month which always involves a transfer at Port Authority - and I was there just a few weeks ago - so I'm particularly thankful to all the Port Authority police officers who jumped into action and helped take down Bad Guy (because we really don't need to immortalize his name). You just don't fuck with the East Coast, ok?


Stay tuned for a few more posts about the States, updated travel posts as we make our way back to Brazil, and some home renovation posts because Casa De Melo is in the middle of a complete reno! I'm talking new walls, new kitchen, new decor! We figured we have about four more years in Brazil before we're ready to move back to the States permanently, so we're finally updating our apartment. Hopefully I'll be able to clarify some renovation-in-Brazil related questions that fellow expats have because it's been a real learning experience for me! Renovation in Brazil ≠ renovation in the States, but I couldn't be happier to put my 10,000 Pinterest boards to use.