May 13, 2014

Meet Mike Jewell who has lived in Brazil over 15 years. Read the following interview in which Mike tells us about some of his 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 live in Sorocaba, São Paulo. My wife and I moved here in January of 1997. I am a pastor.

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

We came to Brazil to help start churches.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Back in ’97; everything was an adventure. The language was definitely our biggest challenge. We spent nine months in language school that first year.

4. What do you miss most about home?

We miss our family. Our three girls and their families live there.

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

As mentioned, the language has been the toughest. However, the way things are done here often drives me nuts. But we have learned to take each twist as it comes.

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

Our daughter met and married her husband here. I was privileged to do the wedding. Great fun!

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

The people and the weather! Both are lovely!

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

We don’t go out much. But we do enjoy churrascaria every now and then.

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

I have a ton! Some dealing with the language and others dealing with culture. One short one I can share here. We had been warned about how bad the crime was here. One night we were sleeping and I heard a huge thump on our bedroom wall. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest as I lept from the bed and got this huge butcher knife! I crept from our bedroom and made my way to the backyard. Only to find that a big gourd had fallen off a vine near our bedroom wall! Whew!

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

The lack of legal recourse for the common guy. And the seeming, Oh Well. What can we do about it anyway?” attitude.

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 have been here for 17 years and am still discovering new words daily. For instance just today I learned that the word for cement mixer, betoneira is not pronounced, Bay-tor-nay-ra. I also have a lot of trouble with masculine and feminine. City names are often incredibly difficult. Examples are Barueri, Itanhaem and Itapetininga often stop me in my tracks!

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

Be friendly, watch your wallet and be willing to learn the language and culture. Brazilians are more than willing to help.

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

SP has a great Japanese district, The Italia building is the tallest and a must see. Just being in SP is overwhelming. Ride the Metro and train. Take a bus to the Praa da S to see the huge Catholic church and some cool trinkets booths. Go to Embu. It is trendy and a great tourist spot. The beach is just about an hour away too

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 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:

Sheldon Feingold – USA
Joseph Low – USA
Hunter Peak – USA
Ryan Griffin – USA
Maya Bell – New Zealand
Rob McDonell – Australia
Scott Hudson – Australia
Elaine Vieira – South Africa
Rich Sallade – USA
Michael Smyth – UK
Chris Caballero – USA
Wiliam Stewart – USA
Meredith Noll – USA
Mike Smith – UK
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
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

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