Laís Gonçalves

Laís Gonçalves

Living Abroad

The Mystery That Is The Jack-o-Lantern


🇺🇸 And here’s a little piece, written by The History Channel, on the carved pumpkins that we see all over the place around Halloween.



Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world.Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.


Living Abroad

The Origin Of Halloween


🇺🇸 Hi Guys!!! Sorry, it took me like a week, but here is the full text on the origin of Halloween available on The History Channel website.


Halloween is an annual holiday, celebrated each year on October 31, that has roots in age-old European traditions. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns. Around the world, as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.

By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related church-sanctioned holiday.

All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.

Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.

Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague some celebrations in many communities during this time.

By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.

Thus, a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry.

On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.

On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.

We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred (it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe). And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead.

In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)

Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.

Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the goodwill of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.



Trips & Tips

5 maneiras legais de vir morar nos Estados Unidos

Immigrate USA

🇧🇷 Muitas pessoas frequentemente me perguntam como se faz para vir morar no Estados Unidos. Então eu separei cinco maneiras legais de se mudar para cá, por um intervalo de tempo ou para sempre, sem precisar contratar nenhum coiote, correr pelo deserto, entrar em nenhuma balsa, ou ser “mula” de ninguém.

1- EB5 – Visto de Investidor

Em 1990, o congresso americano criou o programa EB5 para estimular a economia americana através de criação de empregos e investimentos em capital por investidores estrangereiros.

Sendo assim, você pode obter o visto EB5 investindo diretamente em uma empresa nos Estados Unidos, isto é, fundando uma nova empresa ou recuperando uma empresa em crise, ou indiretamente, através de uma empresa parceira, gerando, em ambos os casos, pelo menos 10 empregos de tempo integral, cuja duração deve ser garantida por no mínimo dois anos. Outra maneira de ser elegível ao EB5 é fazendo um investimento capital de 1 milhão de dólares através de um centro regional, aprovado pela USCIS, que investe o dinheiro pra você. Se seu investimento for em uma área rural ou de alto desemprego, o valor requerido é de 500 mil dólares.

A vantagem do EB5 é que ele é um visto de imigração que permite a solicitação imediata do cartão de residência permanente, o famoso Green Card.

Para informações detalhadas sobre a categoria de visto EB5 acesse: EB5 Visa Classification e aproveite para praticar seu reading!

Mas e se a grana tá curta? Então veja a seguir opções mais tangíveis …

2- L1 – Visto de transferência interna

O L1 é utilizado pelas empresas que têm subsidiárias, filiais ou sede nos Estados Unidos e querem trazer um funcionário estrangeiro para trabalhar aqui. Para ser elegível, o funcionário precisa ter exercido uma função de gerência, gerência executiva, ou de conhecimento especializado, por exemplo um tecnico de alto nível na empresa, por pelo menos um ano, durante os último três anos e estar vindo para ocupar uma posição semelhante.

A primeira vez que o L1 é emitido, ele é normalmente válido por três anos, podendo ser renovado a cada dois anos por duas vezes, ou seja, você pode ficar nessa categoria por até sete anos. A vantagem do L1 é que embora ele não seja um visto de imigracão, como o EB5, ele é um visto de “dual intent” (inteção dupla), ou seja, ele permite que seu empregador te patrocine um Green Card a qualquer momento.

Por isso pessoal, se você se vê morando aqui, uma ótima opção é investir desde cedo no seu inglês e na sua carreira dentro de uma empresa ou insituição em que exista a possibilidade de transferência. L1 visas não são somente emitidos por empresas privadas, mas por ONGs e igrejas também.

Para informações detalhadas sobre a categoria de visto L1 acesse: L1 Visa Classification e aproveite para praticar seu reading!

3-  H1B – Visto de Trabalho

Esse visto pode tanto ser emitido pela empresa para a qual você já trabalha, e que tem escritorios ou sede nos EUA, ou por uma empresa americana que queira te contratar para trabalhar nos Estados Unidos.

Para ser elegível, além de ter conhecimento específico na área em que irá atuar, o trabalhador precisa ter no mínimo bacharelado ou experiência de trabalho equivalente – três anos de experiência de trabalho equivalem a um ano de faculdade, isto é, se você não tiver faculdade, você precisa de no mínimo doze anos de experiêmcia na área em que você irá atuar.

Quando emitido o H1B é válido inicialmente por 3 anos e pode ser renovado mais uma vez por mais 3 anos. A vantagem do H1B é que, assim como o L1, ele é um visto de “dual intent” (inteção dupla), permitindo que seu empregador patrocine o seu Green Card.

Entretanto, o H1B tem algumas desvantagens como, por exemplo, o número de solicitações de H1B, que chega a ser mais de 200,000 por ano fiscal, ultrapassa as 65,000 petições aceitas anualmente pela USCIS (source: USCIS H1B Fiscal Year Petitions Cap), o que faz com que a USCIS submeta os processos a uma loteria eletrônica. Se seu processo for escolhido, só então ele será avaliado e, se aprovado, você poderá ir ao consulado tirar seu visto H1B. Caso seu processo não seja selecionado, você terá que tentar novamente no ano seguinte. A submissão das solicitações pode ser feita a partir de 1 de Abril e encerra quando o cap é atingido, o que nos últimos anos tem ocorrido em uma semana. Outra desvantagem é que o esposo ou a esposa do portador do H1B não tem permissão para trabalhar, ou seja, só haverá uma fonte renda para a família.

Para informações detalhadas sobre a categoria de visto H1B acesse: H1B Visa Classification e aproveite para praticar seu reading!

4-  J1 -Visto de Intercâmbio Cultural

O J1 é utilizado para programas de intercâmbio cultural de estudo e trabalho como, por exemplo, o programa de aupair ou trabalho de férias – Mas fique atento porque muitos desses programas tem limite de idade, então se você tem vontade de fazer intercâmbio, não demore muito para fazer. Se joga!!!

A validade do J1 é normalmente proporcional a duração inicial do seu programa de estudos. Por exemplo, o programa de aupair tem duração de um ano podendo ser estendido por até dois anos. Sendo assim, quando emitido, o J1 terá validade de um ano, e se o (a) aupair resolver estender o porgrama, a estadia do (a) aupair continuará legal, mas o visto estará expirado, a não ser que o (a) aupair vá ao consulado americano no Brasil e solicite a renovação. Não pesquisei, mas acredito que a renovação possa ser um porcesso mais rápido atualmente por causa do CASV.

Diferente do L1 e do H1B, o J1 é um visto de “single intent” (intenção única) o que quer dizer que a USCIS espera que você venha fazer seu programa e depois volte para seu país de origem. É claro que muita coisa pode acontecer enquanto você faz seu intercâmbio, por exemplo, uma proposta de emprego ou de casamento hehe, mas aqui eu estou falando do visto em si!

Para informações detalhadas sobre a categoria de visto J1 acesse: J1 Visa Classification e aproveite para praticar seu reading!

5- F1 – Visto de Estudante

Como o próprio nome já diz, “estudante”, esse visto é para quem quer vir estudar nos Estados Unidos, tanto ESL – English as a Second Language (inglês como segunda língua), como cursos de nível superior (graduação, pós, mestrado, doutorado, especialização, etc)

O legal desse visto é que você pode trabalhar no campus da faculdade por 20 horas semanais durante o período letivo e quando você conclui o curso de nível superior, você pode solicitar uma permissão de trabalho através de um privilégio chamado OPT – Optional Practical Training (treinamento prático opicional), e trabalhar por um ano em qualquer emprego relacionado a sua área de estudos e, caso sua área de estudos seja um curso de STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (ciência, tecnologia, engenhraia, e matemática), você pode extender sua permissão de trabalho por mais um!

Assim como o J1, o F1 é um visto não imigrante de “single intent”, portanto, você não pode pedir um Green Card enquanto estiver nessa categoria, mas se você encontrar um empregador que queira patrocinar o seu visto H1B, você pode ajustar o seu status, mudando de um visto de “single intent” para “dual intent” e enventualmente você poderá adquirir o seu Green Card.

Nota importante: o OPT não pode ser solicitado por alunos de ESL, mas uma coisa bacana é que curso de inglês pode ser feito no visto B1/B2 – visto de visita de negócios e turismo, contanto que seja um curso de meio período. Sendo assim, se você for vir de férias e quiser aproveitar para estudar inglês, pode!

Para informações detalhadas sobre a categoria de visto F1 acesse: F1 Visa Classification e aproveite para praticar seu reading!

Embora essas não sejam as únicas maneiras de vir morar nos Estados Unidos por um tempo ou para sempre, espero que essas sugestões tenham ajudado e esclarecido algumas dúvidas. Caso tenham mais perguntas deixem um comentário aí embaixo do post ou enviem um e-mail para [email protected]

China Diaries

Day 1: Taking off, landing, and checking in

IMG_3502If the countless miles of hiking and climbing weren't enough, you gotta squat to pee! I'm looking forward to my badass sculpted glutes and thighs in 10 days :D

🇺🇸 Prior to take off I experienced a busy 48 hours eased by Amazon Prime and its guaranteed 2-day-delivery system. Compression socks, string backpack, passport, money pouch, sunscreen, rain poncho, hand sanitizer, tushy wipes (yep! Most bathrooms in China do NOT carry toilet paper – Also, observe the post featured image for a detailed view of China’s, I’d say unique type of potty!), finally the journal and some glue stick for the pics.

Taking off …

Taking off always makes me nervous, but flying long hours is not something I look forward to either. The first leg was about 3 hours from Miami Int’l to Detroit, MI. After a two-hour layover and an amazing burger with bacon, some Italian cheese, arugula, and French fries, we boarded to experience a second take-off accompanied by a “two-second dip” turbulence which seemed to detach my stomach from the rest of my body. Sort of how you feel when you ride those fast falling elevator rides (drop rides) at theme parks. But theme parks’ rides are less likely to kill you compared to an airplane, in which you’re flying, falling.

One scare and four to five movies plus a two-hour nap later, we were one hour away from landing in Beijing. I can tell you that almost 14 hours sitting in coach is not fun. But when the kid sitting next to you starts puking, oh well, the 13 hours that you have been squeezed on your seat becomes a little less fun!

As a good and disgusted, in fact, grossed out big time, Christian, I went to the back of the plane and asked the flight attendant for wet wipes and paper towel, so the Georgian boy could clean up his vomited lap, hand, mouth … Oh, Lord! But if the watermelon, involved in gastric juices, pouring like a jet out of his mouth weren’t enough, 30 minutes before landing he starts calling the “Hugh” again. I was already nauseous from motion sickness due to being on the plane for so long. I just could take the show no more. Ten minutes before landing, my own digestive pyrotechny started, and I got to see again my own watermelon chunks too J

Landing …

All gastric juices spilled and collected by plastic bags apart, landing was smooth and deeply appreciated. Beijing airport is simply humongous. Beautiful. But before I got to see it properly, I had to experience a bit of discrimination against my Brazilian passport, originated from a Chinese national health precaution. I was not alone though. Ana and Juan, my Mexican and Venezuelan classmates respectively, were taken to a quarantine room with me, escorted by officers, before we could pass immigration. Because we did not have American passports, the Chinese immigration officers implied that, although we were coming from America with our American professors and classmates, we could be potential carriers of Zika virus – note that Miami, at the time, had an epidemic of Zika, but I guess when your passport is American, a shield grows around you, making you immune to almost anything? Oh well, we had our temperatures taken, we filled out a few forms, including declaring not to have thrown up in the past 24 hours – I didn’t take those watermelon chunks into account here. They were not because of Zika fever! – Finally, we were clear to go through the regular immigration admission process.

Checking in …

Welcome to Beijing! After freaking Dr. Christ, Dr. M, and the whole group out due to our sudden disappearance, the three of us joined them at the baggage claim area and, as we exited customs, we met our knowledgeable, resourceful, kind, and English-language-challenged guide Xin, or Nix (his tag upside down), as he liked to be called on tours.

While riding the bus on airport grounds, we got to witness Beijing’s airport’s size and the growth of my appreciation for Chinese landscaping. Very detailed. Very meticulous. Precise. Pretty. Except for all the Chinese words, symbols, and blue and white highway signs, instead of green and white – traffic signs in Brazil are similar to the USA’s – in many aspects, Beijing looks very much like São Paulo, Brazil.

However, comparing the Chinese city to American cities, the city’s layout and buildings’ appearance are very different, for example, the AC units hang out of the buildings, most constructions have a faded aspect, and all properties are gated. There were also a lot of buses on the streets. Public transportation in Florida is very scarce. I’ve lived in Florida for over 4 years and I still don’t know any bus schedule!

We checked in at the Tiantan Hotel. The place was very simple, the employees were friendly, but only the front desk spoke some English. We took our bags up, figured out the uncommon power system of the room (lights and AC only run if the room key is in an insert by the door), and headed out for our first local Chinese dinner. Concerning the power system of the room though, I would like to add that, per my well-traveled boyfriend, the keeping the key in an insert by the door thing is not uncommon at all, my roommate Shereene and I that were too short on hotel stays experience!

Back from dinner, which surprisingly tasted like the food from the “China House” by my place in the States and was great, my roommate and I passed out. Shereene, who is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met told me on day 2 morning (I wrote this day 1 entry in retrospect) that I was so tired that she asked me to turn off the light, and I responded in some non-English mumble jumble, turned it off, and fell right into a deep sleep.


PS: We lost “half a day” because of the time zone. On the cool side,  we were living in the future! 😏

China Diaries

2 in 1: I’m not talking shampoo and conditioner, nor mayo and ketchup bottle, I’m talking Brazil→ USA→ China!


🇺🇸 When the seed for the study abroad program in China was planted by Dr. Christ, my Business professor, it sounded brilliant, thrilling, but also easy. As an international student from Brazil about to graduate from an American college, I felt “vaccinated” against homesickness and culture shocks.

After my sweet-handsome-one-of-a-kind boyfriend decided to give me the “Business and Culture in China staff led study abroad program” as a Christmas present, barely did I know what was expecting me. It would be brilliant, it would be thrilling, but it wouldn’t be easy at all.