Gabriela Kluppel from Sao Paulo has traveled, worked and lived overseas. Now living back in Sao Paulo she works with foreigners looking to do business in Brazil. Read her advice about common obstacles foreigners can meet in Brazil, some of the mistakes they can make. Also the power of communication and how a small slip can have a large impact on what you meant to say! And yes once again the British accent is the favourite amoungst the Brazilians!

Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?
I am from the city of Sao Paulo. I work as an interpreter and business analyst for foreign companies who come to Sao Paulo on trade missions, for meetings and exhibiting in trade fairs. I help these companies with translation, market research, feed back, contacts, event planning, etc.

What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
Most people that I have worked with arrive here without preliminary information about Brazil and other Latin American countries. Not understanding the law, taxes, fees and the way business is done here can make negotiations a little bit harder. The language can also be a problem sometimes. When arriving in Brazil, my clients are amazed that not many Brazilians speak English, especially in the service industry. On the other hand, they find Brazilians receptive to trying to understand English even if they only know just a few words. There are business people who speak English, especially in the IT industry, but there are many who don‘t.

What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
From what I have seen, some people bring travel checks with them. My advice is to leave travelers checks at home as they can be hard to exchange here. Some banks don‘t accept them and hotels can charge fees of 20%!

Some foreigners carry credit card, money, camera, etc in their pockets. In Rio de Janeiro, even with the beautiful scenery, be aware and avoid taking cameras. I had a client who went to Morumbi stadium to watch a soccer match, Sao Paulo vs Corinthians. He was sitting in the “arquibancadas”, unfortunately his credit card and a 100 USD bill was stolen from his pocket. Despite this incident, and even if he knew he was going to be robbed, he would go to the match again, as there was no better feeling then being there! Well, in any case I think it is better to leave your money and credit card at home. Sao Paulo is a fun city, but please, when going to certain areas or places that you are not familiar with, go with a local friend.

Some foreigners says that it is our fault that we have problems with the environment because we are destroying the Rain Forest, inferring that no other country is doing anything wrong. Brazilian people don‘t like to hear this. We know what other countries having been doing to destroy their environment.

What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different.
The way people greet each other in countries like Russia and Poland was quite strange when I first saw it. Polish girlfriends kiss each other on the lips. Usually they just give you a quick kiss, but in a wedding, for instance, the bride, my friend in this case, was kissed 3 times on her cheeks and the fourth kiss was on her lips, from most of the guest at the ceremony!!!! Some Polish people when greeting me, tried to kiss my lips, however I always offered only my cheek! I was worried that people would find me impolite or arrogant.

I also found it quite different when some Moroccan friends invited me to their place for dinner. They served chicken with sauce. When the dinner was ready and we were sitting around the table, one of them said “ok Gabriela, help yourself”. There were no knives, forks or spoons! I was frazzled. Suddenly one of them took a piece of bread and started eating with his hands. I just did the same. I don‘t know if it is like this in Morocco or only this family.

That is why I found traveling interesting; you can always learn something new: a word, human behavior, or different way of life. You start to understand why people act in the way that they do. You judge less and you accept more. There is always a reason why people act in the way that they do.

Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
I like the British accent. It is easier to understand and sounds very posh. I also find it beautiful when African people, with say Zulu descent, speak English. Their voice is stronger and harsh/husky (rouco). It sounds marvelous. It seems that don‘t only speak with their mouth but there whole face.

Favourite placed traveled abroad and why?
I lived in Boston, USA, for two years. The city is very “alive”, with students from all over the world. Boston is close to New York, Montreal, Cape Cod and to many tourist destinations. So, there were no weekends at home..except when there was a snow storm. I also had a great group of friends, most European, whilst living there. Having those friends made Boston a special place.

Favourite foreign food?
I like Mexican food a lot, for instance, quesadilhas, tortilhas, nachos. Unfortunately I haven‘t had the chance to visit Mexico yet. I have only tried the American and Brazilian versions of Mexican food. I have been told that Mexican food in Mexico, is really spicy. No, I do not like jalapeņos.

Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
I am not really into music. I like some bands, like Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Rockapella. Can I tell my favorite play instead of a book or movie? I love Phantom of the Opera. I saw it three times and would go again.

What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
I think that when you date a Brazilian person, or someone from the same country as you it is easier. Because of the traditions, culture, values, etc. But, I have also found it interesting dating someone from another country. It is an opportunity to learn something new. You become more interested in learning a new language and reading more about your partners home country.

Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or culture shock that you have experienced with a foreigner?
When you write in another language, sometimes you write the word you want but with the wrong spelling. Once I was writing an e-mail to an American friend and I wrote at the end of a phrase. “I do not need one, I just want you”. What I meant was: “I do not need one, I just want one.” I was writing about a notebook. He was a little confused! A Polish friend once asked me: “What does “R” mean? (American movie rating). I replied to her: “Army means, when guys get together to fight to defend the country, like when they go to a war.” She looked at me with a strange face.

What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
1) In Brazil, do like Brazilian. Does this phrase sound familiar?
2) Do not read travel books or magazines. Get out on the road. Do not follow maps! There are plenty of nice places, restaurants, views that you can find yourself. You will discover “something different”, often something special. This will give you the opportunity to meet local people and interact with them. Avoid places where they will give you an English Menu!!

If you have any questions for Gabriela about Brazil or if you are interested in doing business in Brazil she can be contacted at

By Celisa Canto
June 15, 2007

This is the first in a series of online Portuguese classes for intermediate level students. Lessons will be written in Portuguese, as this makes more sense for intermediate level. If you are a complete beginner you might want to look at our basic lessons, written in English, most of which can be found via the FAQ.

On seeing a recent article about on the BBC website, I took particular note of what John Fitzpatrick said about learning Portuguese:

“It’s absolutely essential that you know how to speak Portuguese if you come here. Don’t think you can get by speaking a bit of Spanish,”

So, if you are considering studying or upgrading your Portuguese, I urge you to remember one key point: never lose your sense of humor!

After that, remember that learning a language represents a substantial investment of time and energy, but it is an investment that ultimately will prove priceless.

As I always tell my students: You will enjoy Brazil so much more deeply and completely when you learn Portuguese!

Since we are going to study advanced topics, I assume that you are already able to communicate in Portuguese, that is why eu vou escrever nossas aulas em portugus.

Caros alunos,

Comeo, agora, a dar algumas aulas de portugus como lngua estrangeira aqui no
Comeo com o tema Pretrito Imperfeito porque durante meus 37 anos ensinando portugus a pessoas de todo o mundo, pude perceber, claramente, que se trata de um tempo verbal que traz dificuldade quando o aluno tenta us-lo.

Ele um tempo verbal extremamente fcil de ser conjugado, mas chatinho de ser usado.
Boa notcia: quase todos os verbos se tornam REGULARES, somente 4 verbos são IRREGULARES (ser, ter, pr e vir).

Quando comeamos a entender o uso do Pretrito Imperfeito, podemos perceber que a lngua não somente expressa um pensamento ou um sentimento, mas tambm uma intenão.

Em portugus, como vocs j devem saber, temos verbos terminados em AR, ER/OR e IR.
Vamos ver, hoje, como se conjugam os verbos da 1a. conjugaão: AR

1) ESTAR, VIAJAR, TRABALHAR, DANAR – AR – ava/ava/vamos/avam, assim:

Eu estava viajava trabalhava danava
Voc/ele/ela estava viajava trabalhava danava
Nós estvamos viajvamos trabalhvamos danvamos
Vocs/eles/elas estavam viajavam trabalhavam danavam

To listen to the soundbyte for Celisa’s lesson click here.

A 1a. pessoa do singular (eu) e a 2a./3a. pessoa do singular (voc/ele/ela) são SEMPRE iguais.
A 1a. pessoa do plural = NS, SEMPRE recebe um acento agudo () na antepenltima slaba (na 3a. slaba, contando-se da direita para a esquerda).

Para que vocs possam comear a praticar o Pretrito Imperfeito, vamos falar de 2 situaes bsicas onde ocorre o seu uso:

Situaão (1): quando descrevemos aes que aconteceram no passado, e temos intenão de dar nfase ao perodo,
Situaão (2): quando descrevemos aes que aconteceram no passado, repetidas vezes.

Quando Ana estava (1) grvida, ela sempre viajava (2) para a casa dos pais. L na cidade deles, ela e o Pedro, seu marido, compravam (2) muitas roupinhas para o beb, visitavam (2) os amigos de infncia e noite danavam (2) no clube. A me de Ana gostava (1) muito de fazer os pratos preferidos dela: frango assado, farofa e risoto.
As duas conversavam (2) o dia todo e, enquanto isso, Pedro nadava (2), tomava (2) caipirinha com o sogro, jogava (2) futebol com os amigos e cuidava (2) da horta da sogra.

Sugestão: escrever sua estorinha e identificar as situaes (1) e/ou (2).
Na próxima aula continuaremos a falar sobre as outras conjugaes e outras situaes onde usamos o Pretrito Perfeito.

Boa semana e bom trabalho!

Skype: celisacanto”

By Maria A Petit
March 12, 2013

It was a great day as I had started my teaching schedule after a very long holiday hiatus. I had taught English back-to-back to three sisters ages 11, 13 and 15 in Alto de Pinheiros and then jetted across town to Vila Olimpia for a new student I had picked up for 1.5 hours of Business English. Teaching English has been one of the most rewarding gigs I have taken on and I’ve been fortunate to have a roster of some pretty motivated, interesting and engaging students.

I was walking home from the metro station around 9:30PM listening to ‘Fresh Air’ NPR (National Public Radio) a podcast featuring an interview with Wes Anderson with headphones on just one street from my final destination. When out of nowhere and completely by surprise a plump (like one-too-many-pão de queijos) guy jumped out in front of me with his motorcycle helmet on and grabbed my hands, one of which had my smart device. His assault instantly triggered my Flight-or-Fight Response and I went straight into fight mode, surprising even myself.

An angry bird resurrected from within and a very loud GROWL was released at the top of my lungs accompanied by an attempt to free my arms and in the process punching the guy with all my might leaving me with a very bruised knuckle. Everything happened very quickly but what I do know is that my explosive reaction to his assault freaked the guy out because the next thing I knew, he was running away from me.

After he let me go and proceeded to run away I turned towards him standing in the middle of the street shouting at the top of my lungs Mother F*cker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” all the while watching him hop on his friend’s motorcycle whom had been on standby while the scene unraveled. All I could think about, as adrenaline flowed through my veins, was “what an amateur!” Clearly just an opportunist who thought a 5’4;” girl would be an easy target. I can almost read his clumsy thoughts “Oh, I’ll just walk over in my helmet and she’ll be so frightened that she’ll just hand over all her belongings.” A Mother F*cker indeed.

But what he didn’t know is that I am a member of the Nam Yang Pugilistic Association. I dedicated six years of my life attending 3 hour Tiger Crane Kung Fu classes in London’s China Town rarely ever missing a class, spent summers at the Isle of Wight for Kung Fu camp, and on a few occasions flew in from Dubai after I had moved away from London for weekend master classes to perfect my weapon routines, made numerous visits to Master Tan Soh Tin in the Geylang district of Singapore, and even attended the Nam Yang Mountain Training Camp in Pai, Thailand. The art of Kung Fu was my religion and part of the art was to master your mind and body in stressful situations. Training in hard and soft chi gong, Shuang Yang Pei Ho/ Sun and Frost White Crane Art, Tiger-Crane Kung Fu, traditional Shaolin weapons training starting with the staff, tan tow and then weapon of choice, in my case the butterfly knives, and breathing and meditation techniques. The principles of the art can be applied to any day-to-day scenario and during this time in my life it was the only thing that kept me grounded and sane in the stressful corporate world. Later, I would end up applying these same principles to Polo.

However, the next day the dire reality of the situation sank in. My reaction while successful in this incident would have been naãve had the attacker had a gun or a knife. I was indeed very lucky. And while we trained for the worst case scenario at Nam Yang Pugilistic Association, we also learned that the best defense besides not being in a “situation” was to get yourself out of it as soon as possible. In other words, a quick kick to the nuts and make a run for it.

One thing is clear though; headphones and smart devices are best off when walking anywhere in São Paulo. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings because it’s a jungle out there!

Maria is a Venezuelan-born American living in São Paulo, Brazil. She has a BA in Finance, Multinational Business and Spanish from Florida State University. She initiated her career at Motorola Inc. as their Europe, Middle East and Africa MDb Commercial Director, leaving in 2009. This was followed by an 18 month sabbatical during which she Co-Founded São Paulo, Brazil – Take 7 Carnaval 5 minutes in heaven
São Paulo, Brazil – Take 3 CPF “eee”
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March 12, 2013

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Kledson Pires. Read on as Kledson tells us about his impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

Born and raised in São Paulo. I have studied in New York City for over a year and visited Canada several times (from east to west). I am a civil servant and have been moonlighting teaching English/Portuguese on and off for 22 years at schools and international companies in Brazil.

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

To me, one of the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil is to think that the institutions here will work in the same way they work in their countries.

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

When a Brazilian person says drop by sometime” (aparea l em casa), you should not think you have been invited to go to his/her house. This is just something we say.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

Asian people strike me as having a painful time adapting. It seems to me they have a harder time understanding all sorts of shenanigans we do. If they ever do.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

I am used to American and Canadian accents. However, I don’t think one is supposed to have a favorite accent. I believe an accent might tell us where people are from. Just that.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

I guess I will have to say that Niagara Falls, Ontario is one place I usually think of with a gleeful smile. The Maid of the Mist boat ride takes you right up close to the magnificent Horseshoe Falls. You will get drenched, but it is worth every drop. It is a breathtaking experience. The B&Bs are romantic and the city itself offers a variety of entertainment (Marineland, for example). I am also fond of London (The British Museum is phenomenal), Toronto, ON, Golden, BC, Quebec City and New York.

7. Favourite foreign food?

That’s a no-brainer. Scallops. Any style.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Pink Floyd, Memórias Póstumas de Bras Cubas (Machado de Assis) and Amadeus.

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

When people from different cultures date, a certain degree of awkwardness is expected. The more different the cultures are, the more likely there will be some shock. Forbearance is key to smooth things out.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?

In college, there was an American girl in my class. We used to chat a lot, even though that made my best friend redden with jealousy. Anyway, as I would get closer to her, she would step back. I became concerned and thought to myself: “Do I smell?” Later, I found out she was just trying to make me respect her private space.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

I would recommend a walking tour of Historic Downtown São Paulo. In 4 square kilometers, you can visit museums (e.g. Museu Anchieta – Pateo do Collegio), theaters, pleasant restaurants (typically Paulistanos) and historic buildings (e.g. Casa da Marquesa de Santos). It really gives you a feel of what it is to live here. Shanty towns in São Paulo are thought-provoking.

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Juliana Barroso
Maria Cristina Skowronski Flynn
Antonia Sales
Augusto Gomes
Tatiane Silva
Regina Scharf
Rebecca Carvalho
Augusto Uehara
Ana da Silva
Daniel Bertorelli
Marco Cassol
Ana Clark
Vanessa Agricola
Ubiratan S. Malta
Brescia Terra
Renata Andraus
Ana Vitoria Joly
Helio Araujo
Adriano Abila
Anderson Ferreira
Sandra Partridge
Samara Klug Szachnowicz
Flavius Ferrari
Daniela Ribeiro
Adriano Gomes
Elizabeth Sacknus
Geberson Coelho
Rosaly Loula
Andreas Saller
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Bruno Santos
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Fernando Saffi
Gabriela Kluppel
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
Fabiano Deffenti

By Ricky Skelton
March 12, 2013

This is the Elevado do Jo in Rio de Janeiro, host city for the 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. The highway was built in 1971 to link Ipanema and São Conrado Beaches with Barra da Tijuca and Recreio, districts where many Olympic events will be held and where the Olympic Village will be. The concrete supports of the highway over the rocks and the sea are clearly corroding at the top, and the steel supports are rusting, and who knows what state the ocean wave-battered bottom end is in. Waves crash into the rocks every few minutes and some of the supports are almost at sea level.

This highway carries 112k vehicles per day. The Rio city government has just lowered the speed limit to 60kmh, with buses and lorries still allowed to pass over it, along with all those cars and bikes. There are plans for more temporary repairs before the big events take place, which will hopefully ensure that the supports stay upright at least until after the Olympics. More permanent repairs would take over a year to complete, so the city will not sanction them as such a busy time approaches.

Regular maintenance does not exist on this structure and various experts who have studied the bridge have already warned that the whole thing is in danger of collapse and needs to be completely rebuilt. Inspections are very difficult to do to check right inside the structure to see how decades of rain and seawater have affected it. Pools of lying water with no drainage could have been lying inside the points where the supports connect with the horizontal sections for years. These are the crucial points of the whole structure, where faults and corrosion could lead to structural collapse. The four year study undertaken by the civil engineers of COPPE at the Federal University in Rio could not gain access to open up the structure and check these important details. The opening of holes in more accessible areas of concrete is at least allowing them to get some kind of idea.

Now… with one huge tragedy in Brazil recently due to ignorance of security measures and cost-cutting, the government in Rio are prepared to risk another that could be far larger, and would lead to a massive drop in visitor numbers for the big events in Rio.
We have made our last journey on the old Elevado do Jo.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Porcaria de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Holding Hands
Understanding Brazil: Statues & Self-Worth
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes Part II
Understanding Brazil: The Pub
Understanding Brazil: Protesting
Understanding Brazil: General Elections
Around Brazil: Oktoberfest Parade in Blumenau
Cultural Brazil: The Alambique
Around Brazil: Whale-Watching in Santa Catarina
Brazil: Tainha Time
Deported from Brazil? Part 2
Deported from Brazil? Part 1
Brazil: The President in Florianópolis
Swine Flu in South America?
The Best Club in Brazil…?
The Great Brazilian Animal-Off (Land)
Understanding Brazil: Giving Directions
Understanding Brazil: Driving
Understanding Brazil: Farra do Boi
Brazil: Catching Flu’
Around Brazil: Garopaba
Understanding Brazil: Funerals
Brazil: Bernie the Berne
Around Brazil: Journey to the Amazon Jungle
Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
Around Brazil: Amazon Swarms and Amazon Storms
Understanding Brazil: Playing Pool
Around Brazil: Gurup
Around South America: Peninsula Valdes
Around South America: Patagonia
Around South America: Montevideo, Uruguay
Around Brazil: The Amazon
Around South America: Bariloche, Argentina
Understanding Gringoes: Drinking
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 2
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

São Paulo’s only micro-brewery produces 5000 liters of beer per month and serves its five home-brewed varieties in three environments: the brewery on the first floor, the bar on the second, and the restaurant on the third. On Wednesday, March 27, the cervejaria will hold a special Gringo Night” that welcomes beer-lovers from around the world! Live music with Rodrigo Haddad and The Pure Country Band. Cover charge in the bar area: R$12.

When: Wednesday March 27, at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Av. Pedroso de Morais, 604 – Pinheiros
São Paulo, SP


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