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Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
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… 😀 😀 😀

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

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