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Brazil Through Foreign Eyes

July 11, 2012

Meet Maya Bell who moved to Brazil recently. Read the following interview in which she 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.?

I'm a graduate with a Bachelor of Design degree majoring in pictorial, game and web design from New Zealand. At the moment I live in a small town in the Espírito Santo state working as an English teacher.

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

I arrived in Brazil in January 2012 and what brought me here was my partner who is studying to be a Forest Engineer and we had to be 6 months apart before I arrived here. Also, I wanted to experience a new culture and language as I love to travel, and saw this as an amazing opportunity. When I came here though I was jobless and a graduate so I had to bite the bullet and take huge risks to be here, but it's been worth it.

3. What were your first impressions of Brazil?

HOT! And humid! I thought the people were very friendly and open and I still think this, and also Brazilians have great expression when they speak. I didn't expect people to be so nice to me since I didn't know any Portuguese when I came here but everyone was so lovely and warm, which changed my views of them and I'm glad it did!

4. What do you miss most about home?

I don't really miss New Zealand so much, but I do miss my parents. I call them from Skype which has greatly reduced homesickness, but overall I love being here so much that I don't think I'll be back home for a long while.

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

Communication issues! Not so much to do with language, but things getting done on time. There have been many occasions that phone calls were put off for weeks and going through processes for anything takes forever! I'm not the only one that experiences this though, and even Brazilians complain about it.

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

I love the beaches here. Blue sky, warm water, it's so perfect. The first time I went to a beach was for my birthday in February. The kiosks and the fish and beer they served was brilliant and picolé and corn carts going across the sand! Nothing gets better than that.

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

The food! Açaí, feijoada, the various fruits that can be found here... I knew the food was good here but it was way above my expectations. I also like the fact that family and friends here stay closely connected and everyone is your friend from the moment you say hi (or olá in this case!). And even though I was nearly dying from the heat here, once you get used to it you look back and think why you even complained in the first place. And it was a good change too, New Zealand is super cold compared to Brazil!

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

There's a small place in my town that sells the greatest pastel and coxinha. The mayonnaise is also home-made and tastes divine. The food there is so good that I ordered one too many coxinha and my partner watched me with a cheeky grin as I struggled to swallow the last one.

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

This happened at the school that I'm working at. I was invited to go into an English class for children and I was there to answer their questions as I'm the only native speaker. The kids were so cute with their wide eyes and two boys fought over which soccer team I should choose to support! Also what the teacher told me afterwards was that a girl was shaking and another burst into tears before I even arrived because they were so nervous about a native coming into their classroom! They are such adorable kids. I hope to have an opportunity to teach kids too because at the moment I only teach adults.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
My surroundings. Of course it's very different, but seeing houses with people staring at others walking on the street (which is so common here), the vegetation, the many brightly coloured houses that cover the landscape... It truly is picturesque.

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... should be better than it is. Unfortunately I have a fear of speaking at times and although I use Portuguese at work I only speak English at home. I'm hoping to change this and achieve relative fluency by the end of 2012. One word I hate is "Abril". It's like my tongue doesn't know what to do in between the b and r and creates this weird "lll" sound.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Be open to everything and accept that people here do things differently. Also, try to visit as many places and talk to as many people as possible. It's all about connecting with each other, and you will always come across some interesting information and even some exciting opportunities.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
At least for the state of Espírito Santo, be sure to visit the capital Vitória. Beautiful city and great food, and outside of the capital are little towns and natural wonders like the waterfalls that are scattered throughout the state. Whether you're a visitor or planning to spend some of your life here, your experiences in Brazil will never be boring.

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

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'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

7/11/2012


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