Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jungle Pick-Nick: Week 3

Wow today was such a great day! We had a pick-nick, or picnic, with our kiddoes in a jungle for US Brazil Connect

I have this strange fascination with banana trees and today was my first actual hike through trails lined with banana trees and tropical flowers. In the following weeks there were more gorgeous hikes to follow, including one to a gorgeous waterfall. I should have some good video from that adventure. 
I think I will get another chance to go on a hike before leaving this beautiful and inspiring country.

We played volleybal, ate, sang karaoke, and hiked a beautiful trail literally in what I would consider a jungle. 

I had a blast on the bus ride and at the pic-e nic-e with my students. Yes, I am mimicking how Brazilians say words in English. 

I will share a blog about what happens on the back of Brazilian school buses. But for now, check out my YouTube videos.

Originally posted on my travel art website in August 2014

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

PROOF PIC Do Grapes grow on The Wine?

Mera Hindusthani accha dost pagal ha.
My good Indian friend is absolutely crazy.

One evening we got into a bit of an argument while drinking a bit of wine in my art studio. This friend, to be quite honest, is one of the most American Indians I know but not ABCD as can be seen in another conversation with him.

Me: Nahin, nahin bas tujhe pagal baat hai! Ananth* it is technically a wine yard its actually a vineyard
A: They are the same word...What we are drinking and thing grapes grow on are the same.

Me: No Ananth they are not. Tum pagal ho yaar!

A: What is the difference?

Me: One is Va and the other Wa?

A: ok, so it's the same sound...

Me: No, it's like Ta, Tt, Th and Tth, Da and Dha... They all sound the same to me (and I'm pretty sure I said them all the same) but people keep telling me they are not the same...

A: Thik hai, thik hai

A couple days later I texted Ananth with an explanation of how to make the different sounds...I am still not sure if he really thought they were the same or if it was the vine talking...

*Name has been changed to protect the involved party.Name has been changed a second time because he didn't like the name I picked out.

**Excuse my bad Hinglish...That is part of why I started this blog...Is to one day be able to look back and feel good because I have gotten that much better.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dhanyavaad Doston: Saudades pt. 2

Interestingly while in Brazil I didn't find myself missing American culture or dealing with culture shock becuase Brazil was so different from the US.

My culture shock for the first few weeks was that I was around too many Americans, in a mall several times per week, surrounded by people flaunting their money, around too much English (haha yeah, I was around more Hindi with you guys than I was portuguese for a couple weeks), couldn't really take my shoes off indoors and couldn't eat with my hands. The food was not spicy which I night I added several teaspoons of hot sauce to Arabian food...and I was saying things like "bahut obrigada" and "muito dhanyavaad." And I'm still not convinced that I know how to convey the meaning of "thik hai" with the head bob in Brazilian culture.

The second part of my trip, however,  was a very different experience. I was able to experience many of the challenges I crave with travel. I was around no english for most of it. Some days I had a translator for workshops and seminars and such but evenings and mornings there was typically no english. After 5 days of no English, my brain could actually think in Portuguese which was incredible...I really did and still do love Brazil. The food may not have been spicy, but it was delicious and flavorful. And I know y'all like to claim to like sweets...but y'all ain't got nothin' on Brazilian sweets.

But anyways this post isn't about Brazil. It's about being homesick from you all...
I knew I was a bit crazy about and may have been excessively-fascinated with Indian culture. But I didn't quite realize how much the last year was impacted by you guys. I didn't expect being away from your culture to be as challenging as it was. I am so thankful you let me genuinely experience life with you all....I will miss you all and always have a space in my heart for you and your culture. One day I hope to really experience Indian culture again and really gain a grasp on Hindi...

Português has a word, saudade, it's used to describe the emptiness when something or someone has gone away. It is certain that I am having this experience for you all...
Eu tenho saudades pra vocês...beijos e abraços!


Originally posted August 2014 on my Travel Art Blog.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Week 2 in Brazil: Protests

Some of the protest signs we saw in Joinville...

lutou contra o fascismo nas ruas,
contra o racismo
contra a homofobia
contra a alienação religiosa
contra a corrupção estatal
contra,  o capitalismo maquiavélico
contra, o especismo praticado aos animais
morreu em pé. vivieu e lutou
pela liberdade humana e animal
da tirania e do poder opressor de
poucos sobre muitos.
estará vivo em nossas mentes.
batendo forte em nossos corações e
presente em nossos punhos erguidos.
"nem todo irmão é companheiro,
mas todo companheiro será sempre um grande irmão".

Inglês: I used the help of google for parts of this so any corrections would be appreciated ;)
fought against fascism in the streets,
against racism
against homophobia
against religious alienation
against state corruption
against the Machiavellian capitalism
against speciesism practiced on animals
died standing. vivieu and fought
by animal and human freedom
of tyranny and oppressive power
few over the many.
will be alive in our minds.
  pounding in our hearts and
This raised our fists.
"every brother is not mate,
but every companion will always be a big brother. "

Journal From July 1st

Originally posted on my Travel Art Blog in August 2014

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

24 Hours: No English

Its been 24 hours and my brain is kinda freaking out. I'm exhausted and feel like I am a major pain in the ass because people have to explain everything several times and the tension and the frustration and knowing I'm bad at Portuguese is is making it more difficult to understand, speak and recal what I do know...
Por outro lado, eu gosto la experiência porque é unique e eu sai que eu vou crescer mas que todas las otras situações em Brazil. Eu vou aprender mais português. Os pesoas tem muitos patience comigo também. Elles são fantásticos. 
My portuguese is atrocious and its frustrating because I want to connect with people deeper but I can't because the words must be simplified so much. Even my thoughts in English are being dumbed down. "I want sit. I like the day in the past. I make paint water."

Meus pensamentos em português são ideias complexas. Eu adoro la experiência é acredito que eu vou aprender muito coisas sobra la Brazilian cultura so observando. E eles falan que meu português é bom pra dois meses. E eu mais o menos concordo. Tenho muitos feliz e sorrisos quando uma convenção é swave. 
I miss home (mostly my husband) and I miss spicy food, eating with my hands and taking my shoes off indoors. I miss Laramie and am sad that there is a possibility that I may never return. I am sad that I'm not yet in Washington and I'm sad that Jim is stuck there without me.
Saldages é minha palavra favorite en la idioma português. E eu penso que é descritivo de a cultura beleza. Uma cultura com muito emoções linda e sentimental. As pesoas aqui é carinhosos e dulce. Eles pensam com suas emoções. E eu gosto disso. Tenho saldages pra meus amigos en Santa Catarina e eu terei muitos pra pesoas aqui, pierto de Brasília, e todo o país.
Challenges make you stronger.
Viagem é cultivo bonito. 
Looking at Brasilia
*I ended up going several days and it was tenho cinco dias sem inglês e é foi muito bom! Obrigada amigos Brasileiros! 
E mais uma coisa. Disculpa meio mal em português...Eu escrevi este no meu diário/jornal, depois de um mês de practca português :p 
For those of you who speak both languages...I didn't intend on the two different just happened as I journaled and switched languages...
 Originally Posted August 8, 2014 on my Travel Art Blog.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What Am I Listening To?

Lotus collage art inspired by travel. Felicia Follum
One of my favorite ways to practice language is listening to Pimsleur or other audio lessons in the car when I'm by myself.

I find that Pimsleur is great at getting you to think in the language. It uses similar techniques to how we acquired our native language and simplifies it all for the listener.

If you haven't tried Pimsleur, give it a try. I listen through my local library but you can also purchase the CD set on Amazon or other audio book sources. These are just the courses I have completed but there are many more languages available.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Esperar - To Hope: Quando as Coisas Não Funcionam

People in brazil have a strangely beautiful and amazing ability to wait patiently and maintain relaxed when things não funcionam.
I talked to a man on a bus about this. I pondered "eu não entendo como pesoas em brazil tem muitos patience. É muito interesante pra mim."
I'm pretty sure this man ended up missing his flight because the bus didn't come on time. Yet...
We calmly talked about brazillian patience, lack of function, and a myriad of other topics for over an hour (em Português, I might add). 
Em los estados unidos pesoas....grrrr (meu mao português at work here...)..." In the US we want our money back if we stand, waiting, almost two hours for food.
But, I suppose it is rare that we would ever wait that long in the first place. We refuse to pay and walk out long before the 30 minute marker. 
If something goes wrong we get angry and try to get the priority service we paid for. After all we either earned or deserve it.  
At the end of out conversation, I think this man and I came to the conclusion that Brazilians are used to things não está funcionando so there is "no problem" and a backup plan will come along so that eventually things will work out even if they don't work... But Brasileiros sabem that eventually it all works out and not staying relaxed doesn't help.
If you wait through, it will all work out, even if it doesn't function properly or work. 
Se você tem patience, todas as coisas vão funcionar, mesma que ele não funciona direito.
I will end this post with a message I sent my husband while I was waiting for a delayed airplane with some Spanish-speaking imagrants coming to Pasco to work...
"well a cool fact...Portuguese and Spanish both use the verb esperar. It means "to hope" but is used for "to wait" as well. So you are literally hoping for something or someone. I like it. I think it shows insight into the hopeful mentality and patience Latin Americans have...anyways back to hoping :) love you"

Originally posted August 19 on my Travel Art Blog.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

3 Countries in One Day: Day 3-6/7

We unintentionally ended up in Paraguay a few days ago. Which is kinda sad becuase of the ease of border crossing also equals the ease of human and drug trafficking...
Standing in Argentina looking at Brazil (rt.) and Paraguay(lft.). 

But I absolutely haf a blast in Argentina with a good friend and his family. And Paraguay was a wonderful experience as well...

Originally posted in August 2014 on my travel art website

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dhanyavaad Doston - I had a great year with you all!

I typed a thank you in Hindi that I planned to read at the going away party when we left Laramie but forgot it :( and I'm pretty sure it actually made no I shared it online to have it proofread and was told it didn't make sense (when I get back to the US I will share it anyways. Ok well, when I find my computer)

This letter was for the many Indian friends that we made over the years but especially in that last little bit in Laramie, Wyoming.

I wanted to thank you all for welcoming Jim and I into your community. It was really special to be a part of your family. I've heard missionaries, and less often but other travelers as well, talk about going somewhere and being welcomed into the culture.

I now have a better understanding of how special that really is. There is a difference between hanging out and getting to know people and really being a part of it all and I feel like you guys blessed us with the opportunity to really be a part of your lives and culture.

It's funny becuase after returning to Wyoming I was seriously considering grad school at Khala Bhavan. But when we realized it was a longer program than I had originally thought we decided against it. This past year, though in Wyoming (possibly the place on earth that is the least like India), I really was able to experience a mini-India and it was beautiful. I learned so much about food, culture, religion, languages, social norms, cricket, and fell even more in love with your culture and people.

I began by wanting to learn Hindi. I honestly belive my goals desires changed to simply being friends and sharing life which was so beautiful.

I will never forget my last year in Wyoming and the times that we shared. I love each and every one of you guys. 

See Dhanyavaad Doston Pt 2 which I talk about being homesick from Indian culture while in Brazil.

Originally posted August of 2014 on my Travel Art Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

US - Brazil Connect Bio

Felicia Follum is a watercolor artist who has a passion for using her art to work with people in culturally diverse environments. She currently teaches art, blogging, yoga, and very basic languages (Spanish, Hindi, and Sign Language) to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And teachers private art lessons with “at-risk” youth. She would like to eventually have her own studio space where she creates and sells artwork and offers various creativity-based classes. Felicia’s significant travel experiences include Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (in South Dakota), Haiti, Mexico, and India. She is excited to spend time in Brazil and see what creative work and lasting friendships will come out of the experience.

To learn more about US-Brazil Connect, check out their website

Originally posted on my Travel Art Blog and website in 2014. I have recently decided that I will move my blog posts from Brazil and other travel adventures from my art page to my language blog. I am sure that you will enjoy <3

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why the Bible?

As I said in the first post, I wanted a Hindi/English Bible for Christmas last year.
Why the Bible?

Reading the New Testament in Spanish in high school was really enjoyable and challenging but I love that it is a book that is translated into so many languages. The Bible has been translated into over 2,000 languages, making it the most widely translated book there is (The Quran is in over 700 coming in at #2) . I like that it is a book that so many people from all over the world can and have read...Here are some more reasons...

I am a Christian, so the Bible is where my religious beliefs come from.

I was both a religious studies and philosophy minor in college (well actually both were areas of emphasis in my second major. Long story, you can watch my YT video if you want more on that)
The Bible consists of many types of writing. It has proverbs, short stories, history and lists.

I suppose these are just a few of the reasons I picked being able to read the Bible as my Hindi goal. Though I do read the Bible in Hindi and Portuguese on Regular basis, I have a long ways to go...

The water lily painting was a part of my exhibition East Meets West which was a response to my trip to India. My art is a major reason for my love of language. Check out my art blog for more art

Lily Pads and Lots,
from The Lily Pad Project
Aprox 11x15

Thursday, May 11, 2017

YouTube Practice

One of my favorite ways to practice speaking is on YouTube. I realize that you don't get to practice conversational skills this way, which is where I struggle in all my languages.

But here are the steps for how I practice using YouTube.

1. Preparation.
My preparation for a YouTube video varies greatly. I either decide on a topic or simply take out my phone and start rambling. Sometimes I will write out a script and read it or use notes (I do both of these from time to time in English as well).

2. Recording.
This is simple. Sometimes I use the webcam on my computer and if I'm not at home, I use my phone.

3. Editing. 
I realize that I could just upload the videos but I have noticed that it is helpful for viewers to at least have subtitles and its no fun for them to sit through my ums and pauses. It can make the video more enjoyable for my viewers, who are primarily English speaking.

4. Posting.
Upload and share.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Goals 2017 - March Through June

I’m a little late getting my 2017 goals in here…surprise. surprise.

The first two and a half months of the new year were a whirlwind. But its mid march and I am ready and excited to rock and roll. There is even a new language on my list that I didn’t plan to study. But lets start with a quick review of the languages you already know I’m working on.

I will write 1-3 month goals and hopefully I will create an update of some kind within that time (here or on paper).
Travel Collage

Old Studies


Update - I’m pretty rusty, as you may guess. I was able to practice with people who don’t speak any English at all while in Italy (which I will post on soon. If not here, on my art blog for sure over at

Goal - practice conversation and talking about topics. Topics include, religion (what I believe), family, friends, and why I’m studying Hindi.

Urdu Goal - Learn alphabet. Though I’m not sure how serious I am about this one. I may focus on Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani speaking. Though I know reading will help improve my vocabulary and overall Hindustani skills. But I could also, simply continue to read in Hindi.

I suppose if I find a Pakistani friend to chat with in Urdu, maybe I will decide to learn the alphabet.


Update - RUSTY RUSTY RUSTY and I get really shy and freeze when trying to listen.

Goal - Listen to more Portuguese videos and music while working. Improve listening and reading skills, as I know speaking will come back as I regain confidence, as this was once my strongest language I suppose.

New to me Languages


Update - This is new!!! This is new!!! I am a complete beginner with this one, so I am excited to document the process and I think it should be realistic to advance, much slower than with Hindi or Portuguese but still at a steady pace.

Goal - Be able to hold a basic conversation by the next international dinner. Have some questions to ask and be ready to answer.

Tasks to Reach goal - Create flash cards and study them daily. Work on Duolingo to get some vocabulary and grammatical usage into my brain Keep chatting with my new French speaking friends using translator and trying phrases I am learning. Listen to the sounds using google translate

Listen to pronunciation videos and practice reading with online friends Find some folks who can correct me and some who will be more relaxed Maybe find someone looking to learn English and exchange with them.



Update - no update.

Goal - One day to return to Spanish but for now focus on Portuguese and French (though I’ve recently heard it’s ok to work on 3 or 4 romance languages at once.


Update - none

Goal - One day finish the book of John (start over)


Update - I did get to practice my phrases in Italy

Goal - None


Update - none

Goal - When visiting my Sudanese friends I will practice what I know with their parents who don’t speak much English.