June 23, 2014

Meet Dave Rooney who moved to Brazil around 6 months ago. Read the following interview in which Dave tells us about some of his most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

I’m from Australia, sold up everything and left 3 years ago for South America after the end of a fairly serious relationship and deciding I simply wasn’t enjoying life there any more. Luckily I am a website designer & developer so can work online (zavadesign.com) and live anywhere, as I am now doing. I have also previously spent a fair number of years travelling & living overseas, 5 years backpacking in my 20s, and two years first in Sri Lanka volunteering after the 2004 tsunami, and then in Kenya with an NGO working with street children. Very rewarding and educational experiences as you might imagine.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

When I headed to South America three years ago it was always my intention to spend some time in Brazil around the time of the World Cup, and with an open mind that it could suit me as a place to live longer term. I arrived here just before Carnival, was in Recife for the celebrations, and also Salvador for the last two days here, before heading down to Rio were I’ve been living for the few months. The jury is still out about calling Brazil home for the longer term…

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Hot, fun, lots of bum flesh on the beaches… but also dirty, at least in the northern cities. Since being here a little longer and understanding the lack of funds that get put towards local services I am beginning to understand why. I found the people were very friendly in the north, always wanting to help with directions and the like, though my friend and I used to joke about their willingness to offer directions even when they had no idea of the correct answer. We would ask three different people, get three different answers, and eventually find out they were all wrong. Funny!

4. What do you miss most about home?

Vegemite. Going out for drinks with friends in the period leading up to Christmas. Good, cheap sashimi. But all things I can survive without too many dramas.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

The number of expats here who seem to do nothing but complain about Brazil constantly. I just have to wonder why on earth do they stay?

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Carnival in Recife, words can’t adequately describe the fun it was! Much better than Salvador, though I have yet to experience Carnival in Rio.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

Beach life, live music and dancing, and the beautiful women! And football. I play football, so being able to play on or near the beach two or three times a week with a bunch of locals is a slice of heaven for me!

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

I love the local botecos, hanging out with the locals over a beer and watching some football. I wish I spoke Portuguese to be able to join in with their conversations more but just watching and feeling their passion makes for a great way to pass an afternoon/evening.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Nothing I would want to share with strangers… ;)

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

Safety issues are the obvious one, though that could be said about a lot of places. Common sense will go a long way in avoiding any issues though.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

Nudda. I know a little Spanish, so have been getting by for the basics in what I know. I’m waiting until after the World Cup to decide how much longer I stay, if I decide to stay then I will start some classes.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Learn a little about Brazilian culture before you come, don’t overtly carry anything valuable, use common sense… and enjoy life like the Brazilians do.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Can’t say about Sao Paulo, but for Rio…
– Stay in the Copa or Ipa areas. Yes it’s a little more expensive, but to be able to walk along the beach as the sun goes down, sip a caipirinha, listen to live music backed by the sound of the ocean… this is the Brazil I want to experience. Other areas can be interesting, but it’s easy to head to Lapa or Santa Teresa for a night, but much better to be able to go for a morning swim.
– Go to botecos for drinks and not just to gringo/tourist bars, otherwise you’ll be missing out on another essential slice of Brazilian life.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@gringoes.com with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

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

Bina Bina – USA
Mike Jewell – USA
Niki Wang – Singapore
Sheldon Feingold – USA
Vitor Salas – Portugal
Joseph Low – USA
João Ferreira – Portugal
Hunter Peak – USA
Priya Ferreira – UK
Ryan Griffin – USA
Rami Alhames – Syria
Maya Bell – New Zealand
Melanie Mitrano – USA
Rob McDonell – Australia
Jennifer Souza – USA
Scott Hudson – Australia
Bill Holloway – USA
Elaine Vieira – South Africa
Pieter Kommerij – Netherlands
Rich Sallade – USA
Robyn and Willem Van Der Merwe – South Africa
Michael Smyth – UK
Danielle Carner – USA
Chris Caballero – USA
Jaya Green – USA
Wiliam Stewart – USA
Andrew Dreffen – Australia
Meredith Noll – USA
Marcus Lockwood – New Zealand
Mike Smith – UK
Jonathan Russell – USA
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Jeff Eddington – USA
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Rod Saunders – USA
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
Angus Graham – UK
Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O&rsquot;Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

By B. Michael Rubin
June 23, 2014

Expatriates, or expats”, are people who choose, for one reason or another, to live in another country other than where they were born. There have been many famous expats throughout history. For example, the first white settlers in North America, the Pilgrims, were expats who fled England for the New World.

Today, according to United Nations calculations, 3.2 percent of the world’s population consists of expats. The percentage of expats differs widely from one country to another. For instance, there are far more expats living in the US than in Brazil. Interestingly, it hasn’t always been this way. Between 1865 and 1885, after the end of the American Civil War, as many as 20,000 Americans came to live in Brazil. This mass emigration occurred when many families who had been landowners in the South lost their land after the Civil War. At that time, the South was forced to give up the use of slaves, who were a vital element in the Southern economy for harvesting crops like cotton. Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil was interested in developing cotton farming in Brazil due to the high prices, and he capitalized on the difficult situation in the US South by recruiting experienced cotton farmers to come to Brazil.

Dom Pedro offered potential US immigrants subsidies and tax breaks. Many of those Americans who arrived became Brazilian citizens and renounced their US citizenship. A large group settled in the town of Santa Brbara d’Oeste, near Campinas in São Paulo state. Even today the residents of Santa Brbara d’Oeste celebrate their American descendants with an annual party known as the Confederado Festa. There are no accurate statistics on the number of Americans currently living in Brazil, but the totals are not high, as the descendants of the Confederate farmers are now considered Brazilians.

All kinds of different people choose to live in foreign countries for all kinds of different reasons, but if there is one thing they have in common it is the wish to understand their new country. Expats naturally view Brazil differently than Brazilians. Simple, daily routines for Brazilians, like going to the supermarket, are new experiences for expats. We see our new world with open, curious eyes. Understanding the habits and customs of Brazilians is critical for expats if we wish to adjust to our new home here.

Of course, an expat never completely adjusts to life in a foreign country because we are, after all, not Brazilians. However, we do our best to navigate the codes of social behavior in Brazil. While all people follow the same basic rules for social order, such as respect for others and obeying the laws, there are thousands of unwritten “rules” in every society that are known to everyone who lives there – except expats. For example, unlike in the US, it’s polite in Brazil to speak to strangers. Also, when riding in an elevator in Brazil with neighbors or colleagues, it’s customary for people to face each other to facilitate conversation. In the US, everyone faces the door of the elevator, which is considered rude in Brazil, if it means turning your back to those behind you in the elevator.

As the rules of social behavior are known to all Brazilians, when expats don’t know the rules, they may offend Brazilians. As a result, expats need to practice at becoming careful observers and students of social etiquette.

For this reason, it’s common to hear expats discussing among themselves the various rules in Brazil that are new or different for us. Expats often wonder about how best to adopt Brazilian customs, for instance, the conversational habit of interrupting while others are talking. In a group of Brazilians, two or three may be talking at the same time, making it difficult to understand what’s being said, particularly for an expat who is still learning Portuguese.

Here are three interesting questions raised by some of my expat friends in Brazil:

Driving. Based on the actual number of accidents on the streets of Brazil, it might be concluded that Brazilians are terrible drivers. More people are killed by cars in Brazil than in the US, while there are more cars and more people in the US. Some expats say the pedestrians are as reckless as the drivers. Pedestrians cross busy streets instead of waiting for the traffic light to turn red, or stand with their toes over the edge of the sidewalk, leaning into the speeding traffic as buses fly by, like surfers riding the nose of a surfboard. Other expats have the opposite conclusion: Many of the young men in Brazil drive over the speed limit, particularly on motorcycles, and the only reason there aren’t more accidents is because they drive very well.
So, are Brazilians good drivers or bad drivers?

Trust. Much has been written about the “jeitinho brasileiro” and lack of trust among Brazilians. It could be a carpenter who asks for half the money upfront and never finishes the job, or a plumber who arrives four hours late. There is no question that a lack of trust among Brazilians is bad for everyone, including the economy, but why this mistrust is so pervasive is unclear. Some expats believe the reason Brazilians are in the habit of cheating each other is because it’s too easy. For example, it’s not unusual for Brazilians to talk while waiting on line, and ten minutes later, a complete stranger has invited you for coffee at his home. Brazilian culture is by nature open and friendly. This kind of instant trust among strangers has its downside, however.
So, are Brazilians too trusting or not trusting enough?

Fun. If there is one image that foreigners have of Brazil, it’s that Brazilians are happy and fun-loving. Brazilians avoid bad news and conflict whenever possible. This even extends to the military, who operate on a strictly humanitarian basis, assisting flood victims in Brazil or earthquake victims in Haiti, for instance. There are no Brazilian soldiers fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Brazilians know how to enjoy themselves, giving parties for no reason at all. Any place where Brazilians congregate, whether it’s a mall or a restaurant, can become a party. When Brazilians go to hear live music, it’s customary to sing along with the performers; thus a concert becomes a singing party. Nevertheless, every year people are seriously injured or killed in football-inspired fan violence, more than in any other country in the world. Between 1988 and 2013, there were 234 football-related deaths in Brazil, including 30 last year.
So, are Brazilians happy, fun-loving people or crazed with violence?

As Brazil opens the World Cup, the expats living here are eager to welcome the many foreign visitors coming to experience the world’s most popular sporting event. We will be anxious to learn what the visitors think of our adopted country.

B. Michael Rubin is an American living in Curitiba, Brazil. He is the editor of the online magazine, Curitiba in English.

Previous articles by Michael:

Brazil: Joao Pessoa – A Quiet Gem
Brazil: Communication for Foreigners

By Larry Ludwig
June 3, 2014

[Photo by douard Lock of dancers in The Seasons” on São Paulo Companhia de Dana’s website]

The São Paulo Companhia de Dana continues its rise up the ranks of internationally renowned dance companies. The Companhia (hereafter referred to as the Company or SPCD), under the leadership of Artistic Director Ins Boga, has progressed dramatically since its formation back in 2008. It has gone from a small company performing set standard classical ballet and modern contemporary dance pieces in São Paulo City to today’s organization of world-class professional and artistic excellence, performing not only nationwide in Brasil, but also throughout South America, Western Europe and the Middle East. It has attracted and continues to attract the attention of composers and choreographers from around the world, who create, either by commission or spontaneous voluntary submissions, new, innovative works to be debuted and danced, world premiered for that matter, by the Company. The list includes Giovanni Di Palma of Italy who choreographed last year’s “Romeo and Juliet” of Prokofiev (SPCD’s first full length ballet), as well as Canadian choreographer douard Lock’s, “The Seasons”, with music composed by Gavin Bryars of England. 1/

On April 25/26 the São Paulo Companhia de Dana (SPCD) presented its world premiere of “The Seasons” of douard Lock, Canadian-Moroccan Montral-based choreographer, with original music by Gavin Bryars. Bryars has reworked Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” from 1723 to a 21st century version, expanding the piece from four movements into twelve movements or segments, each presumably representing one of the twelve months of the year. The premiere performance took place at the Teatro Municipal Jos de Castro Mendes/the Jos de Castro Municipal Theater in the city of Campinas, a city of some 1,000,000 inhabitants in the “interior” of São Paulo State, Brasil, an hour to an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the city of São Paulo, traffic willing.

The performance of “The Seasons” was preceded by a presentation of “Gnawa”, a SPCD signature modern/contemporary dance piece choreographed by Nacho Duato of Spain back in 2008; danced to a variety of musical; compositions of 20th-21st century composers. “Gnawa” represents the cultural confluence of Black African slaves, commercial entrepreneurs and Islam within Africa. It was exuberantly performed by the SPCD dancers, being well received by an enthusiastic full-house audience, an excellent warm-up act for “The Seasons” to come.

“The Seasons” is what in the world of classical ballet might be called a series of divertissements. That is, a sequence of dance steps not tied to any one overall story/plot line, albeit, here in “The Seasons, a particular divertissement can and occasionally did contain a thematic story line inclusive to the segment itself. “The Seasons” is however not a classical dance piece per se, but a mix of both classical (for instance spins and arabesques) and modern/contemporary dance forms. The dancing is largely incredibly rapid, utilizing high-energy non-stop quick, very quick movement, sometimes robotic-like, of arms, legs, feet, hands, head, torso, mixed in with very effective synchronized spotlighting… as well as with the use of rapid-fire blinking on-off strobe lighting (the kind of lighting often associated with nightclubs and rock concerts). The stage was surrounded by black walls/drapery, with most of the costumes of the dancers in dark-to-black tones, accompanying the mostly dark lighting on stage. The darkness worked well to accentuate the movement of uncovered arms and legs and the white ballet shoes. The light skin tones, the white shoes had the effect of the audience suddenly seeing brilliantly lit movements juxtaposed against the dark background, movements which just as suddenly disappeared back into the darkness. That darkness was interrupted occasionally by moments of bright/brilliant lighting of the entire stage, effectively creating additional opposing theatrical emotional contrasts for the audience. Especially fascinating was how the dancers knew just where on stage they had to move to suddenly be under a brilliant spotlight. There was constant movement, constant new spotlight locations throughout all twelve movements.

“The Seasons” movements/divertissements were danced by a complement of only twelve dancers. The length of each of those movements was of significant duration, causing the audience to be in awe of the dancers’ talent, their ability to perform and memorize-in-sequence so many, sometimes what seemed like hundreds of separate body movements in any one of the twelve segments. Equally awesome, if not astonishing, was the dancers level of stamina and physical conditioning required to accomplish the dancing of the total twelve segments… The dancers level of athleticism simply amazing.

An aside: One of the more interesting and endearing dance moves was, while the dancers both were standing as in the picture above, the male ballerina’s use of his arm to move the ballerina’s legs in circular rotations, a most pleasing, somewhat mesmerizing effect. (FYI: About two-to-three minutes of the performance can also be seen on You-Tube, at “The Seasons, 2014 douard Lock”).

The overall impact of this “Seasons” work is what I call frenetic, intense non-stop frenetic… something here-to-fore not experienced by this ballet/modern dance viewer. The seemingly never-ending, in-your-face, rapid-fire pacing takes some getting used to, forces one to pay close attention to the dancers at all times. In some respects not unlike a soccer match, where if for one second you let your attention lapse you may miss a goal being scored. Extra attention above and beyond the normal attention spam was called for with “Seasons”. All the more so in view of the generally dark lighting on stage, which sometimes made it difficult to actually see and focus on those many footsteps and bodily movements. One did not want to miss what might be a more climatic, more dramatic, more uplifting, more stunning dance moment!!

The dancing, as you may guess by now, was spectacular. But as noted, very demanding in terms of audience viewing. After some nine-to-ten segments had been danced, one felt an unconscious need for a respite, a moment of pause to reflect and take-in what had been seen/danced to that point. In fact, that almost occurred in the 11th divertissement (or month, presumably November), when for the only time during the entire work, the music slowed down to a relatively calm, legato like tempo. Alas, reflection was not to be. For whatever reason, the choreographer kept up with those rapid fire, quick velocity dance steps, albeit in this instance, in opposition to slower music. Myself and others in the audience thought the 11th segment would have been more effective and psychologically satisfying if the steps had matched the slower paced music.

Should also note, that unlike “Gnawa” and most of SPCD’s other dance works to date, all performed to recorded music, “Seasons” was performed to live music with five musicians: two violas, two cellos and one bass. They performed outstandingly, but as noted by a conductor-apprentice friend, also in attendance, one of the violas was out-of-tune (a cardinal sin from the point of view of a budding conductor). Have a feeling that like myself, most of the audience ears were not quite so finely tuned, most likely noticing nothing musically amiss.

Would I go back for a second viewing of “Seasons”? A most definite YES!!!! It is an invigorating, uniquely interesting and challenging work, well worth one’s while. And yes, the work was well received by the audience, who at the conclusion, gave the performance a vociferous, long standing ovation of acclaim. Bravos and Huzzahs aplenty.

Forgot to mention that the two April premiere performances were sold out, SRO. Some 300 perspective audience members were turned away Friday night, with 250 not able to get tickets on Saturday. So think it incumbent on yours-truly (myself) to thank SPCD Director Ins Boga, her assistant Morgana Lima and Education and Communications Co-ordinator, Marcela Benvegnu, for my invitation and transportation to the Campinas premiere. More information about SPCD can be found on its website, www.Sãopaulocompanhiadedanca.art.br.

1/ The Company has also commissioned works by Brasilian choreographers and composers, premiering four of them during 2013 at the Teatro Srgio Cardoso in São Paulo. While focusing heavily heretofore on traditional ballet and contemporary dance works in the internaitonal repertory, SPCD is also taking advantage of its cultural blend of African, European and Native American heritage, including samba and capoeira, to create and develop a unique Brazilian dance repertory. For instance one of the four works, “Vadiando” choreographed by Ana Vitória Freire, incorporates dance movements from Brasil’s martial-arts equivalent, Capoeira, a mix of dance, acrobatics, marital defensive/offensive bodily movements , and a mix of instrumental music and verbal chants. The “Vadiando”piece is danced an original soundtrack by Brasilian composers Jorge Pea & Clio Barros. The three additional commissioned Brasilian pieces also premiering during December 2013 were “Pormenores” by Alex Neoral, “Azougue”by Rui Moreira and “Mamihlapinatapai” by Jomar Mesquita in collaboration with Rodrigo de Castro. Music for “Azougue” was composed by Rui Moreira & Lobi Traor, for “Mamihlapinatapai” by Silvio Rodrgues, Rodrigo Leão and Cris Scabello, while a Sonata and a Partita for solo violin of Johann Sebastian Bach, played live, accompanied “Pormenores”.

Previous articles by Larry:

A Day of Ballet With the São Paulo Companhia de Dana
Opera Wonderful: “Porgy” Down South São Paulo, Brasil Way

June 3, 2014

Meet Bina who moved to Brazil a year ago. Read the following interview in which Gina tells us about some of her most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

My name is Bina. I am from Marlborough, Massachusetts in the USA. I am 36 years old and I am a ghostwriter on online. I am married and I have three children. We live in Vespasiano, MG. It&rsquot;s about 40 minutes by bus from BH. I like to see the humor in every situation. Brazil has been challenging for me in regards to this.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I moved to Brazil a year ago. I was well prepared mentally thanks to www.gringoes.com. I convinced my husband to move here because of his immigration problems. He was hiding from deportation at the time. But secretly, I am an adventurous person and I wanted to move to South America. I was sick of living in an apartment building with no yard and awful neighbors. With my husband&rsquot;s immigration problem, we were afraid to buy a house and then lose it.

I am happy to say that now our kids have a house, a yard, a dog, a cat. They are very happy only going to school five hours a day. (I&rsquot;m not). They also have a slew of cousins and family here that they didn&rsquot;t have in the States. My husband now has a real job and not just flipping burgers seventy hours a week.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

I have been to Brazil many times before, but never to live here. I was very excited to be in the warm weather all year and not shovel snow. Last year was my first Brazilian winter and I found it to be very cold at night and the homes don&rsquot;t have any heating. I had to learn to sleep with heavy blankets. The floor aren&rsquot;t carpeted anywhere and I had to learn to wear shoes in my home during cold nights.

4. What do you miss most about home?

The things I miss about home are few. I miss my favorite coffee, maple syrup and peanut butter. I miss drive-thru&rsquot;s. I really miss speaking English with people that don&rsquot;t think that English is a hobby or something cool. I admit it is fun to speak English to telemarketers until they hang up though.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

My most frustrating experience in Brazil was getting my driver&rsquot;s license. In Brazil when they need a copy of a document they don&rsquot;t just take a copy. They send you somewhere to get one. That place will have long lines and you will pay for the copies. Then when you go back, they tell you that you have to certify the copies in another location. Some more long lines and more money. Then when you go back again, instead of letting you pay a fee there, you have to go to a bank (More lines) and pay there and bring back the receipt. If you are lucky enough to have everything they ask for when you go back again, they ask you to get an exam by a doctor. Every time you go to Detran, you will wait in lines also.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Being from the north in America, and being white, I have to say that I have never seen racism. In Brazil, my most memorable moment was when I saw a woman walking up a very steep hill carrying a four month old. She stopped to take a rest and I was just a minute behind her walking up the same hill. I stopped next to her and asked how old the baby was. She turned around and looked at me and then smiled.

She said, Oh hi, she is four months old.” I say she is cute and has a cute smile etc. The woman says, “That&rsquot;s because you are white, she doesn&rsquot;t like black people. She cries at black people.” I found this very shocking, not only because it was a four month old that she was talking about but because the woman herself was not white. I still don&rsquot;t know what to think of this.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

What I love about Brazil? OK, I love riding the busses, I admit it. I also love that I can see birds that you only see in pet stores or in zoos just flying around free. There are toucans in Vespasiano! I love seeing the squirrel sized monkeys running along the telephone wire harassing the pigeons. I love walking down my street and seeing cows and banana trees. I love swimming and cookouts in December. My husband doesn&rsquot;t like me taking Moto-taxis but that&rsquot;s my favorite thing about Brazil. With one phone call, a sexy Brazilian shows up on a motorcycle and takes you for a ride. Most of them don&rsquot;t mind if you hold onto them (you have to pretend to be scared) and it only cost about $1.50… :D :D :D

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

My favorite places to hang out in Brazil are the places that have acai. I can&rsquot;t have ice cream because of allergies so I always felt left out when people would invite me to go for ice cream in the summers. I have to say that acai with bananas and granola in the town square on a Saturday is awesome and makes up for it. Acai is addictive.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Not answered.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

The most striking difference for me between Massachusetts and Brazil is the walls around homes. I also find that seeing people live in unfinished structures is a little shocking. The graffiti here is also out of control. There are no dog officers here and stray dogs rip apart trash and just yuck… they have these elevated baskets to prevent it in some places and that&rsquot;s where stray cats and birds come in. Brazil needs dumpsters with covers.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

My Portuguese now is native level. I actually have a hard time faking an American accent when I&rsquot;m trying to get some patience from somebody when I don&rsquot;t know how something works (like a phone plan). I look American enough, but when I open my mouth, they assume that I am Brazilian of German decent or from Santa Catarina.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

My advice for people coming here is to bring your sense of humor. Bring some warm clothes for winter nights. The floors are cold! Get all your visas and CPF and anything you can get for Brazil done at the consulate in your country. Bring copies, translations everything you can think of. Don&rsquot;t count on police officers accepting an international driver&rsquot;s license. They all have different opinions on them. Throw away your watches, because here there is only night and day.

I also recommend joining the www.gringoes.com group on FaceBook. Those people are a mountain of information and a good shoulder to cry on after meeting your in-laws.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Not answered.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

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

Mike Jewell – USA
Niki Wang – Singapore
Sheldon Feingold – USA
Vitor Salas – Portugal
Joseph Low – USA
João Ferreira – Portugal
Hunter Peak – USA
Priya Ferreira – UK
Ryan Griffin – USA
Rami Alhames – Syria
Maya Bell – New Zealand
Melanie Mitrano – USA
Rob McDonell – Australia
Jennifer Souza – USA
Scott Hudson – Australia
Bill Holloway – USA
Elaine Vieira – South Africa
Pieter Kommerij – Netherlands
Rich Sallade – USA
Robyn and Willem Van Der Merwe – South Africa
Michael Smyth – UK
Danielle Carner – USA
Chris Caballero – USA
Jaya Green – USA
Wiliam Stewart – USA
Andrew Dreffen – Australia
Meredith Noll – USA
Marcus Lockwood – New Zealand
Mike Smith – UK
Jonathan Russell – USA
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Jeff Eddington – USA
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Rod Saunders – USA
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
Angus Graham – UK
Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O&rsquot;Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia