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Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Michael Magera

May 4, 2016

Meet Michael Magera who moved to Brazil at the start of the year. Read the following interview in which Michael 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 New Yorker, an almost real New Yorker, born in the city (Queens. not Manhattan) but grew up out on Long Island before returning as an adult. I work in telecommunications but essentially I am a cabling guy. If your Internet works at work, I’m behind it.

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

I came to POA in 2003 for my first time for just a month, but began spending more time in 2005. I’d say that the balance has become nearly 50/50 since then.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Brazil as a whole struck me much harder than I expected. Being married to a Brazilian, I had certain expectations. Foremost was the beauty, which my wife did not exemplify through her speech; however the beauty and cultural diversity made me gasp. WONDERFUL!

4. What do you miss most about home?

Although Brazilian food keeps me “fat enough”, I miss my New York City pizza, bagels and Chinese food. Of course, I miss my family and friends as well.

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

Frustrating? Brazil? Brazil has lent me to believe that frustration is not possible. Early on, adapting to the coffee culture was difficult as I’m used to gulping down a few cups before noon. Now, occasionally, I get uptight by the relaxed nature of the country when I am in a personal rush.

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

Stepping on the Internacional field with my late father-in-law. Colorados!

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

The food is huge but the culture is my favorite part. I love the family value and the acceptance of friends.

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

Pimguim! Lima e Silva e Republica.

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

I went to Mulligan’s one night and met some Americans who thought I was Brazilian and spoke to me slowly. They talked to me for a while and ultimately told me about a spot in NYC that I knew. When I rattled on about it, my NYC accent kicked loose and we laughed for hours.

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

Culture. When in NYC can you have someone say “Good morning?”

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 is pretty good now. I am learning the tenses now. I’m often found speaking around the bush so to speak in order to complete a thought. I’m getting better.

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

Be quiet. Enjoy. Look. Learn. When you try to be yourself and speak, you miss subtleties and cues that Brazilians offer. Watch and learn.

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

Do what you want, just be mindful about appearing ostentatious. Watches, bracelets, rings and sharp sunglasses at the hotel. Never been outside of an airport in SP, but a close friend was robbed there. Rio is awesome! Gotta do it! just use common sense.

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.

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