Meet Monde Ngqumeya, from Johannesburg, who stayed in Brazil with a host family. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

Am a Business Analyst for Vector Logistics Solutions in Johannesburg. I am 28 years old and a University of Johannesburg graduate with a business degree in Logistics and pursuing a Post grad qualification. I am from Kagiso a township near Johannesburg. Single, but a great uncle to my 3 nephews and nieces.

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

Was a Rotary Youth Exchange student in 1997, lived in Minas Gerais, in a small city called Passos. A beautiful part of the Interior.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My first impression was flying into São Paulo, it went on forever and I was like wow I thought Johannesburg was big, this was ENORMOUS. My host brother Felipe and Dad Dr. Antonio d/Avila offered me a snack and coke… no-one spoke English and I spoke no Portuguese… that was quite something. My impression of Brazil was really of an adventure about to start.

4. What do you miss most about home?

What I missed most about home, was speaking Setswana, ululating at women, and the music. South Africa is a country of 11 official language, I guess being confused in one’s country, I missed that.

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

The most frustrating experience in Brazil, was seeing the poverty, and really how opportunities are only for those with money.

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

My host mom baking me a massive cake for my birthday, and a trip to Bahia. That was an experience seeing Olodum Live at the Barretos festival in October. I many other experiences, but another was when I dreamt I was speaking fluent Porra, I really gained confidence soon thereafter.. Boates, festas, everything was memorable.

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

The people, the landscapes and its diversity… in that regard reminded me a lot of South Africa. I miss feijoada. that is another memorable experience.

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

All the bopates in Passos, Rio Grande close to Passos, and the waterfalls around Passos, mostly in their natural states. One example with great churasscos was Paradiso Perdido, 30kms from Passos

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

This is too graphic, and really disgusting. it was my 2nd day in Brazil and it was my first ablution episode. In South Africa we throw the tissue inside the lavatory not the bucket by the side… well with me not speaking Portuguese and my host mom no English, explaining to me that I had blocked the toilet with tissue, it was really the most embarrassing episode of my life!

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

The fact that 45 million people speak more than 20 languages in my homeland, yet a country nearly 10 times my size speaks only 1.

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?

Av and avó, Granddad and ma, my Portuguese since returning is not as good as before, there are a great deal of immigrants from neighboring Mozambique, so I practice my Portuguese with them. I intend to return to Brazil in February.

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

Throw away your misconceptions and preconceptions and have a blast and try to make friends.

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

Visit Carnival in a small town. Rio is overrated. But one thing for sure, throw caution to the wind.

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:

Jim Smith – USA
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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