Western New England University sport management students and faculty are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games. Junior Erika Sheinhait of the women's swimming team shared her experiences from the first few days in Rio. Be sure to check out the photo gallery below as well!
We have just finished our third day in Rio. We arrived Thursday morning and started right away. After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we went to a favela (called Rocinha) to install mosquito nets. Our group did a great job with fundraising, so we also bought a lot of school supplies and candy for the kids in the community. Being able to interact with the kids was incredible. They accepted us right away and we were able to talk and play with them. We also ate an authentic Brazilian lunch, which was our first good meal since getting off the plane. It was such a humbling experience and definitely one of the highlights of the trip thus far.
On Friday, we started the day at Sugarloaf Mountain. There was a lot of hype in the city as the torch was coming through preparing for the end of its journey to the Opening Ceremonies. The view was incredible, providing a long view of Rio and Guanabara Bay. Unfortunately, our trip to Corcovado was delayed until Saturday because of the Olympic preparations. Instead, we went to the Escadaria Seladròn. This is a staircase in downtown Rio decorated with mosaic tiles by a Chilean artist. We climbed 215 steps to the top and took artsy pictures with the artwork. We got to finish the day with watching the Opening Ceremonies in the hotel.
Saturday, we began by going to our first Olympic event: rowing. It was exciting to watch and take pictures with the Olympic Rings. It's something you never really think about having a chance to see in person. Next, we got our chance to go to Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer). First there is the train ride up. And when I say up, I mean straight up. Every now and then, we could peak through the trees to see amazing views. But nothing compares to the top. There are really no words to describe it. Everyone has seen its appearances in various movies and pictures all over with an aerial view, but there is no way to explain how monstrous it is in person. Just looking at it, I was in complete awe. Then you move on to look at the view: speechless. You can see for miles and miles (luckily there was no fog today!) with some stadiums sticking out in the thousands of buildings. After spending nearly two hours there (and eating lunch with it right above us), we left and drove to Copacabana Beach. The sand was the softest I've ever felt. The water felt amazing, and the surroundings topped that. Getting to watch the sunset there was pretty surreal, too. We even went over to talk to some NBC workers that were stationed at the beach.
We are now heading back to the hotel for dinner. Tomorrow we have an invite to the Truce Foundation Gala.