Part 4

I Miss My Maid!!!

“Marina, where are you? I miss you a lot” That was what Solange found herself thinking while living far from her Brazilian home. Being Brazilian in the United States is not always easy! You find, to your shock, that embregadas are not affordable here. Even having a cleaning woman come in once a week, as many people do, is impossible for struggling university students. So, you must do everything by yourself, or die trying! “Marina, my maid in Brazil, did everything for me, the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry. She was wonderful”, Solange remembered.

Solanage and Fernando had now been living in Princeton, New Jersey for several months. They had moved into their house, got it furnished, and were enjoying their pet squirrel, Filomena, when she behaved. They made friends, and their studies were going well. Through the International Center at Princeton University, they were introduced to an American host family who befriended them and helped them adjust to their new life. . “We were adjusting well, but we missed our life in Rio Grande do Sul”, said Fernando.

Now they had to do all the stuff they never had to do in Brazil. They had to organize their time for studies and all of their chores. It was time consuming and not always fun. “I would dream about waking up on Saturday mornings, like I used to in Brazil, without worrying about shopping , cleaning , laundry and cooking. I had time to go to the gym, and have my hair and nails done,” said Solange.

Fernando was put in charge of vacuuming, and he wasn‘t happy about this. But it was better than the first assignment Solange had given him, which was to clean the bathroom! They both don‘t like to even think about how he used bleach in the bathroom without gloves. “When my hands starting bleeding, this was the first time I thought about sending Marina, my Brazilian maid, a ticket come here,” Fernando said of that terrible episode. After that, they both thought it would be better if he did the vacuuming instead. But troubles lay ahead there, too. One day they were expecting guests for dinner. The house needed a good cleaning and Fernando started his vacuuming. “The vacuum cleaner broke down about a half hour before our guests were due to arrive. The carpet was especially dirty that day because I had put off this chore for weeks. I panicked because I knew the guests were coming, and the carpet looked really bad,” Fernando said. What to do? They moved a table and small sofa around to cover the really bad looking parts of the carpet. When the guests arrived, they commented on the new arrangement with the furniture. They liked it a lot! Fernando learned his lesson, and always faithfully did his vacuuming every week.

Fernando wasn‘t the only one to have ups and downs with the household chores. Solange said she didn‘t know how to cook before coming here. She never had an interest in learning because Marina was such a good cook. “I had to learn how to cook,” she remembered with a sigh. So she reluctantly started learning this skill, and eventually became very good, but not before having several disasters in the kitchen. “I knew I‘d never be the kind of cook that Marina was”, said Solange. She got some recipes from American friends, but thought American food was too spicy and too fattening. In time and with luck, she found a Brazilian web site in which there are Brazilian recipes because she missed Brazilian food a lot. And even better, she found a Brazilian supermarket called Pao de Acucar that delivers ! What heaven!

But it was and still is difficult for them. Their advice for Brazilians thinking of coming to the USA to study is to learn to manage your time well, and learn to do some household chores before you come here. Or bring your maid with you from Brazil!

More adventures with Solange and Fernando soon….

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