Living in Rio de Janeiro?
Education and Transport in Rio de Janeiro
The Education System
In Rio, mandatory education starts at the age of six when children begin to attend Ensino Fundamental, the elementary and middle school. After nine years of education at the Ensino Fundamental, students can choose to attend the Ensino Médio for the following three years.
Public schools in Rio are free of charge. However, expat children rarely benefit from free public education as, in order to enroll in a public school, children need to prove that they have an adequate level of Portuguese skills. If your kids do not know enough Portuguese to pass the adaptação exam, attending a public school in Rio is not an option. When you begin to choose a private school for your child, keep in mind that most of these schools are run by the Catholic Church.
If you decide against a private Catholic school and if your child does not qualify for attending a public school, you may choose to send them to an international school in Rio. Most international schools are based on the British or American education system and often offer the opportunity to receive the International Baccalaureate (IB). International schools in Rio de Janeiro are:
- Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro
- Rio International School
- British School in Rio de Janeiro
- Centro Internacional de Educação Integrada (IB World School, website in Portuguese)
- Escola Suíço-Brasileira – Swiss-Brazilian School (IB World School, website in Portuguese)
Getting Around Rio de Janeiro
There are many ways of getting around Rio de Janeiro. It is said that finding your way around the city is not that hard, even if you have just arrived in Rio. The popular tourist attractions are located on the city’s south side and can easily be explored by foot. Make sure to invest in a pair of comfortable shoes and a sun hat and take a walk around the area. However, if you are not into walking have a look below for some advice on how to get around town.
Taking the Car
Although it might sound like the most convenient way of getting around, driving in Rio can be quite stressful. First of all, Cariocas have adopted a very anarchic style of driving and don’t always stop at red lights. Instead they simply slow down and drive on when the road is clear. The good news is that, ever since a new driving code with heavier penalties and fines has been implemented, driving in Rio has turned into an almost civilized experience.
Keep in mind that, while driving might have gotten easier in Rio de Janeiro, parking sure hasn’t. It can be quite tiresome to find a parking spot in the city. And even if you do, you still need to pay the flanelinha (parking attendant) for looking after your car. This is common practice in Brazil.
Finding a taxi in Rio de Janeiro is no rocket science. In fact, the yellow vehicles with their blue stripe on the side are virtually everywhere. Yellow taxis are metered but keep in mind that the fare can be higher on weekends and in the evening after 9pm. It is not recommended to agree on pre-paid deals when taking a yellow taxi. These types of deals are illegal and your driver may try to rip you off. Try to hail another cab instead.
Of course, you can also choose to take one of the white, blue, or red radio taxis for a slightly more sophisticated way of travelling. These taxis are bigger and air-conditioned. You will need to call ahead to order a radio taxi and inquire if they charge by meter or if there is a flat rate.
Riding the Bus
Throughout Rio’s south side neighborhoods, air-conditioned buses, so-called frescão (fresh guys), can be hailed from the street much like taxis. They connect the south side neighborhoods with downtown, the airport, and Barra. However, these buses do not have a steady schedule and thus do not run frequently. You may have to wait for one of these buses for a while. Beach corners and lifeguard stations often function as informal stops.
Regular buses are probably the city’s most popular, albeit trickiest, means of transportation. Although buses are quite cheap, they are often not air-conditioned and packed like sardine cans. Unfortunately, safety is a serious issue on public buses and pick-pocketing and petty theft is rather common. If you still wish to take the bus to explore Rio de Janeiro, do not carry valuables and jewelry openly and try to look like you belong.
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