A day in the life of Mark Symmonds

4th April 2014 at 01:00
As carnival season comes to an end in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this globe-trotting primary teacher and football fan looks forward to some world-class sport - and improving his Portuguese accent

After deciding that England was too cold, I embarked on a teaching journey that has taken me to Vietnam, Singapore and now Sao Paulo - Brazil's largest city and one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere. It is also a host city for this year's Fifa World Cup in June and July. Ever since I secured my ticket for England v Uruguay a few weeks ago, each day has been that much happier.

My morning starts at around 6.15am, when I wake up and prepare myself an EnglishBrazilian breakfast. I heat up some Quaker Oats porridge (I am down to the final tin brought over by my mother on her last visit) and I make a smoothie from acai berries, which are native to Brazil.

I live on the 14th floor, in an apartment that overlooks the vast sprawl of the city. Once I have checked the BBC Sport website (there is never any good news of my beloved Aston Villa), I take the elevator down to pick up my bicycle. I wait for the portero to open the gate, then I cycle up the ramp and on to the chaotic streets. It takes me only about 10 minutes to ride to school, but on the roads of Sao Paulo you have to be vigilant. Motorbikes tend not to see red lights, as a few of my friends have discovered.

I arrive at school, wish the security guards "bom dia" (good day) and park my bike in the garage. I work at St Paul's School, where we offer the British national curriculum to mainly Brazilian children. After working in Singapore, where all the children were expatriates, it's nice to really get to know the Brazilian young people and understand how their lives are lived. Our school has been on its current site since 1927 and has around 1,000 students aged 3-18.

I wish my colleagues a good morning and meet my classroom assistant before the children arrive at 7.45am. I teach one of the four Year 2 classes of students aged 6-7, and I deliver all subjects except for physical education, art and ICT. The children also have four Portuguese lessons a week, which are thankfully not led by me. They find my attempts at speaking Portuguese humorous and I am still trying to get the accent right on certain words.

The children have so much energy and enthusiasm for learning. They have a very busy day until 2.45pm, when their parents or nannies pick them up.

We have just had a week's holiday as it is carnaval in Brazil. Everything shuts down. From my apartment window last night, I could see thousands of people walking through the streets, singing and dancing with one of the samba schools. It is a very happy time.

It looks as if it is going to be a lively summer (actually, it will be winter in Brazil). The locals are hoping that the national football team can lift that famous World Cup trophy on home soil for the sixth time. If they do, things are going to be even more fun.

Your day

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