Meet Bill McCrossen, from the USA. He has moved to Brazil and is teaching English, as well as job hunting. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.
Apologies to Bill as we accidentally sent him the questions for a Brazilian, but he has coped admirably!
1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?
I live in São Paulo – Cerqueira Csar district. I just received my permanent visa, RNE, and working documents/papers (AKA work wallet). I spend half of my time looking for a job that will utilize my education/18 years experience working for Fortune 100/500 organizations and the other half of my time I teach English.
2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
Adjusting to a new culture is difficult for anyone, but I would have to say the language barrier, finding employment, corporate and utility organizations poor customer service, opening a bank account / banking hours, getting a permanent visa / citizenship, and high taxes/interest rates are a few obstacles that one will encounter.
3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
The mindset that things are cheaper in Brazil. Yes, there are some items that are inexpensive in Brazil, but overall I think the cost of living in Brazil is much more expensive than people realize.
4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
Many Brazilians will say they are going to do something, but they have no intention of following through with what they said they would do. Yes, being polite is nice, but I would prefer someone being honest and direct with me (in a courteous manner). It is an endearing characteristic of the Brazilian culture as well as an unappealing/misleading characteristic.
Other characteristics that strike me as different and attractive are: the love expressed when people greet each other and the sense of style people have when they dress. I enjoy the business casual attire back in the US, but I think it has become too casual. Overall, in São Paulo, people seem to dress with a sense of pride and style.
5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
I have no particular accent preference. However, since I am a native American English speaker I would have to choose the American English accent. Conversely, I think the British English accent is much more elegant than the American English accent. I feel Americans have butchered the mother tongue.” Nonetheless, I love the American culture.
6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
Ahhh!!! A warm culture, beautiful scenery, beaches, and people (inside and out) along with delicious food are a few reasons why Brazil, Spain and Italy have found a special place in my heart.
7. Favourite foreign food?
Pasta, paella, Brazilian & Italian pizza, fresh juices and fruits, caipirinhas, and frango desossado.
8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
Foreign Bands/Performers – Rosana, Caetano Veloso, Titas, Daniele Mercury, Marisa Monte, Queen, Pet Shop Boys.
Movie – Motorcycle Diaries, City of God.
Book – O Corpo Fala.
9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
Brazilian passion for life vs. American stressed out worked induced life. Americans – “live to work” vs. Brazilians – “work to live.” Although there are many stressed out Brazilians the number is probably much lower than those in the “live to work” American society? Overall, Brazilians seem to have a better work-life balance.
10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?
A friend came to visit and she was very uncomfortable with the large number of people sleeping in front of buildings and begging for money/food/etc.
This particular friend lives in Los Angeles where there are many beggars/street people. However, the numbers are much less and the government does provide shelter and food programs for these people. I think the ultimate shocker for my friend was when a young male teenager stopped in front of us while we were walking and began to urinate on the side of a building. This occurred during the middle of the day and on a busy street in São Paulo.
11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
Every country/culture has its good points and bad points! One should not judge until he/she is able to understand the people and their culture. Sooo here are my two recommendations:
1. Try to meet and interact with as many Brazilians as possible. Brazilians are very proud people and enjoy sharing the love they have for their culture and country.
2. Go to a few Brazilian beaches and a couple large cities – observe the people (how they interact, dress, eat, drink, etc.)
Hopefully after these two recommendations a visitor will begin to “get it!”. Either you “get” Brazil or you do not. Those who do not are missing out on a great experience and journey!
You can contact Bill at email@example.com.
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:
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“