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    September 07, 2009


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    Not to mention that they go to UFRJ, which is one of the best in Rio and free.


    As far as I know, they are asking for donations for cervejas, for a party. They do this every year/semester and it is only to contribute to their keg fund, so to speak. That's what I have been told anyhow. It is funny, the first year I lived here I would throw up my hands and say "nao falo Portugeuse" to try to dodge them, mas...most fala ingles, entao... But, it is harmless, just to fund their party/drinking rite of passage. Think
    "college starving student" mentality.

    Ray Adkins

    I agree with you, it doesn't make any sense...
    However it is good to remember, these folks are being forced to beg for money, it is a forced humiliation imposed on them by the veteran students who want to score some beer money...
    Regarding the poor, once they are born around it, they are not as sensitive to the poverty situation as you and I would be, life goes on for them...
    It is a ridiculous tradition in Brazilian Universities, people actually die every year as a result of abuses during these stupid rituals...



    I should have added, I am asked for handouts on a daily basis, moreso on the weekends. At this point I mostly can't, I am not rich by any means and need to take care of my own family. I see the regulars that work Leblon, know them well and have given them help in the past. However, the other day, my son and I were going to have a late lunch and when I parked my car, a young boy who I had never seen approached me with a 6 month old baby girl in his arms asking for money, and I said, "no, not today", but he was persistent and followed us for several blocks, the baby obviously very ill, lethargic. Finally he just gave me the receita for the medicine the baby needed and said "she has severe diarrhea and is sick, please" so I went to two different farmacias until we got the right medicine and I also bought him diapers (and no, he didnt' ask for receipts), because I knew this was for real and not some scam. I said to him "take care of your sister" and he replied, "she is my daughter". He couldn't have been any older than 16, if not 14. Anyhow, I paid upwards of R$60 for that one handout...usually it is between R$10-20. For these college kids, they are only asking for R$1-2...for fun, I can support that.


    This type of ritual may seem like humiliating or dumb but they are not. They're a very important part of the college experience in Brazil and it's a bonding thing, so everybody can know each other. It's fun for all people involved, including the freshmen (I'm serious, go ask for a 20 something if they did not had tremendously fun during those things).

    Sometimes those rituals end up badly. It happens. Not every year, obviously but once in awhile. But in 99% of the cases, it's an extremely fun thing for everybody involved. They don't do car washes or bakes because the whole point is to do a SILLY things, LAUGH AT YOURSELF. Not simply collect money. And the money they collect is spent in a huge party where everyone have the opportunity to socialize.

    It seems extremely silly because THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. And there is no such thing as "humiliation" (as Ray said) especially because freshman are not FORCED to do those rituals, it's completely optional. But everybody usually ends up doing it because, as I said before, it's USUALLY an extremely fun opportunity to bond with everybody.


    BTW, it's not like a tradition for college students to paint themselves and go beg for money in Ipanema/Leblon whenever they need money for trips, parties, etc. It's a INITIATION RITUAL only. It happens whenever classes start (in Brazil, freshmen enter in college during Februrary-March or August-September) and it's strictly freshmen only.

    ali la loca

    I participated in one of the initiation rituals as a freshman in Rio and found it to be really important for bonding with my classmates, as well as to get to know the older students. In our case, we didn't paint ourselves, rather we were marched downtown, had paint thrown all over our clothes, hair, etc. by the seniors, had eggs, flour, coffee and glitter thrown at us, then had our shoes stolen. In order to get our shoes back, each person had to collect R$50 by the end of the day. In the end of the week, we had a great party and then school started.

    I can see how this seems stupid or blind to poverty from the outside, but sometimes tradition is valid simply because it's just that: tradition!


    It is a freshman hazing ritual. I question whether it is really "voluntary", since if you don~t participate you are considered a social pariah and that is tough when you spend 4+ years with the same group of 40 people. There have been crack-downs on hazing - it is not all just silliness, there have been some violent incidents. I think you can get the same bonding or comaraderie doing charity. Wouldn´t it be great if instead of the current "silliness", which is often loud and disruptive to those of us who actually have to work on campus during the first 2 weeks of the semester (read faculty), they cleaned up campus, painted a building or had a food or clothing drive for the poor?

    Ray Adkins


    I am totally with you!
    This hazing tradition is silly and at times CRIMINAL, there is nothing voluntary about it, it is mostly about HUMILIATING and the stupid veterans just do it because people did it to them the previous year, it is pure revenge on the inocent newcomers, nothing else, and that way the dumb tradition is carried on and people DIE every year in result of the abuse often practiced by "Children in the body of adults" that is how I define college students and that is why they are so dangerous, because they still have brains of children in full developed adult bodies!



    Not true, it is COMPLETELY voluntary (at least in Rio). I actually know plenty of people who did not participate in it because they didn't feel comfortable or because they couldn't (my sister, for example, was in France during the first week of college) and had no problems at all to socialize later on. There are no such thing as be considered a social pariah, at least not that I know of.

    The thing is: if you don't participate in it, you're not invited to the party that happens with the money freshmen raised. It's quite simple. Nobody will treat you badly or think your weird. But if you do participate in it, it'll definitely speed up the bonding part because it's tougher to socialize during class (especially because in Brazil most people still live at home during college). Most people have lots of fun during those things so I don't see why this should be suspended (I mean, I do find annoying all those college kids asking for money and I usually don't collaborate but been there, done that).


    The initiation stuff happens in Chile (or at least Santiago) as well. I sometimes will contribute to the students just because I've been part of similar things for sports teams and have always appreciated help from other people.

    Here the thing that gets to me is the young men who ask for money to go to soccer games. Considering that as you said, there are truly needy people here who are asking for money to eat rather than to go to a sporting event AND that many of the same people begging for my contribution to their ticket are the ones who'll end up getting violent and causing trouble in the name of supporting their team, I definitely do not give money to them!


    Way to go for speaking about something without knowing yours facts (which you tend to do very often). Despite one of the comments above, yes, people sometimes are forced to take part in this idiocy. Unless you want to risk having your hair cut, or sprayed with non removable paint, or made to stand in the rain and get a cold or eat insects alive. Everyone and their mothers know about these so-called freshmen rituals in brazilian universities. They are atrocious and there was at least one accidental killing due to violence against new students. I was a victim may years ago. Heavens knows I did not want to have my face painted (I'm allergic, by the way... lovely rash afterwards), hear verbal abuse of the worst kind and stand in the sun/rain begging strangers for money that would pay for beer I didn't even want to drink. That had such a deep, unpleasant impact on me that I ended up leaving the university a couple of years later.

    I have spent a very long time away from this site as, unlike other expat blogs, it irritates me deeply. I see you haven't changed a bit. You must have had quite a posh upbringing in Canada, because some of your statements (as in "I was CERTAINLY never exposed to that back home!") doesn't find echo in what I hear from other canadians I know. Even if they were not that much exposed to poverty in Canada, they acknowledge its existence and are not "shocked". If they can/want to DO something to help, they will. If not, they won't pretend to be outraged before comfortably reentering their little bubble of "posh expat work package" comprising drivers, cleaners and the lot.

    Daily Rio Life

    The last sentence of the post asks someone to explain the phenomenon to me, meaning I'm aware that I don't understand everything about it. I'm looking to learn. It's amazing how much I learn from my readers, and I find posting these tidbits to be a useful tool for learning more about life in Brazil.

    So I am curious - you say people are forced to take part in this idiocy - in what way? To ATTEND university? Or to be part of a sorority or fraternity? If the latter is the case, to me that's not being "forced"...

    As far as your other comments about my blog, if it irritates you so much, no one is forcing you to read it! And for the record, I had an extremely middle class upbringing back home. The poverty in Brazil is shocking to me, and has been to every single Canadian visitor I've welcomed to Brazil.

    It seems you may misunderstand my use of the term shocked. When I say I am shocked I mean that I am saddened by it and concerned, not that I find it offensive or anything.


    Uh I have to say that I didn't find this fun at all, and yes we are not technically forced, but if we don't get the money on the streets we either have to pay veteran ourselves (which many people do in part, since they can't get all the money they are supposed to get)or we don't pay at all and don't get the material that is passed from veterans to freshmen (which includes copies from past exams, copies from chapters we have to read, all the notes from all the previous years)and that you can only get that way. So yes, we do have a choice but as you can see not doing this rite is not really an option. And I can say this from experience since I did that.


    They are not begging for money because they don't want to work, maybe if you understood the culture better you would know this. They are from the Federal university of RJ look at the paint on the girl, When prospective students pass the entry exam "vestibular" they do this..this is a custom, the males have their heads shaved and painted on along with the women, and they collect money on the street as part of the celebration for gaining entry into the university


    You all are being so judgemental about this. Come on. Like someone said, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. And NO ONE IS FORCED, but everybody does it because its cool and nice to get to know your future classmates. If you don't agree to do it, you just don't do it and thats it. You will be treates the same way as everybody.


    In North America, at least here in Canada, when you go to University the week prior the classes get started is full of activities, such as concerts, body painting, etc I live next to U of T, and every year is the same thing: freshmen (bixo, calouro) on underwear running at Queen's park...
    In Brazil you will find the same thing. The difference is that they beg for money. This money goes to veterans, who will organize the "choppada" (beer party). In addition to that there is the charitable side of the "trote" (how this is called). For instance, clothing and food donation, blood donation, etc...

    Why they do that? Unlike North America, Brazil doesn't have the formal tradition. Instead we do it in the end of university. So, the money goes to the "choppada", and the profit of it will help to fund the cost of the university prom (baile de formatura). Students start saving money for this "baile de formatura" as soon as they are in the first year of university.

    In Brazil we don't have the fraternity culture, like in North america. But I would say that the "initiation" would be similar on both the fraternity and the "trote". Most students do it because it is a unique momentum on their lives. :)


    It's not a choice if there's punishment when you don't take part, morons. That's a prime example of why Brazil never seems to get over its problems.

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