Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Meet Robin Hoffman, from the USA, who is here in São Paulo, Brazil, on an English teaching internship. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?
Im a 25 year old guy, recently living in central Washington State, USA. I grew up in Indiana and moved out west when I was 20. I have a degree in anthropology and most recently made my living as an archaeologist. I lived in Senegal, West Africa for almost 2 years doing a Peace Corps stint. Currently I am teaching English (of course) in the ABC region. I love languages, speak some French and Wolof, and am fluent in Mandinka. I love nature, hiking, healthy living, philosophy, etc.
2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I arrived in January this year. I am involved in an internship program for teaching English. Really though, I wanted to explore this place, the culture, the language, the beauty etc. And learn about teaching.
3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?
São Paulo is huge, huge, huge. First impression was that people here are so relaxed, friendly, but more than that, just laid back with a really nice confidence and positive outlook.
4. What do you miss most about home?
Being able to explore nature in national parks and being able to walk around at night and be safe.
5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
Trying to order agua de côco, I dont know what it is, but noone ever understands me...
6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
Going to the north coast for carnival and then heading to Rio for the Stones concert.
7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
Peoples laid back atmosphere, their passion, and attempt to live everyday like its their last.
8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
There is a bar near Rua Figueiras in Santo André called something like Casa da Bruxa, something like that, a great restaurant, good teas and drinks, great atmosphere and cheap!
9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
First weekend I was here I tried cachaça for the first time. I didnt speak much Portuguese so I was trying to modify my (poor) French to express myself. So, I tried the cachaça and I was trying to explain how it was burning my throat, so I said, "me dá um fogo no cou" because in french "cou" means neck... so... you can tell the reaction from the folks at the padoca.
10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
Once again, people are much more laid back, and they live with passion. They cry, dance, have fun, they dont worry about always being perfect as much as us crazy americans.
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?
I speak pretty well for 4 months of living here, I think. The hardest thing is that there are two kinds of Portuguese, correct Portuguese (which is mostly only written) and then Brazilian Portuguese. The language is so loose here that its sometimes hard to understand how something can be said in so many different ways and still be correct.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Take it easy, and travel, enjoy talking to people, enjoy the day to day!
13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in Sao Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
Go to the mercadão, go to the parks, to Paranapiacaba, the north coast, and the interior!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
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