Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A week is a long time in São Paulo


Our first taste of São Paulo came last November when we all went out there for a week. Helen wanted to visit the office and get a feel for what working life is going to be like out there and we wanted to have a first look at the sort of houses and apartments we can afford to live in. We also had to visit the school we'll be sending the boys to.

Choosing a school from the other side of the world is not easy, especially when language is going to be such an issue, but fortunately we seem to have found one.

http://www.stpauls.br/

It's really rather nice - at least from what we've seen of it so far - and it comes recommended by a previous São Paulo correspondent who sent his two children there. We had decided to send the boys to an English-speaking school rather than throwing them in at the deep end in a local school and although we gave a good look at a couple of others, St Paul's was really the only choice.

We spent a morning with them so that they could evaluate the boys. James was taken off to do some basic literacy and numeracy tests and we found him later charming his teacher with his mathematical skills. David reappeared after half-an-hour with his future cohort, happy as pie and covered with purple dinosaur stamps all over his arms!

Sadly for us, there aren't actually that many native English speakers at the school, with about 90% of the pupils being Brazilian and the remaining 10% being a mix of various other nationalities. Still, this should help us develop two Portuguese speakers nice and quickly and save us the bother of having to do it ourselves.

As for the work side of things, we all took a trip to The Economist's office where we met the office manager, Miriam, and the current correspondent, John. Miriam is a paulistana (São Paulo born and bred) and will be vital for us, especially in our first few months when we don't have a clue how anything works or what anything means. John, sadly, will be long gone before we arrive.

The office is a 30-minute brisk walk from the school (2+ hours by car) and we've pretty much decided we need to live close to the school, seeing as how they start their day at 7.45. Unfortunately, this puts us slap bang in the middle of the most expensive square mile of real estate in South America (apparently). We saw at a lot of houses. Most were out of our price range, some were even more so. However, we did find two that were both affordable and extremely close to the school and we could possibly fit both of them into our current house. So, time to get rid of a few books then...

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