Penny Freeland is both English and Brazilian and has lived in the US! She is therefore very well placed to contribute to our interview series “Brazil Throught Foreign Eyes”. Penny works as a freelance counseller here in São Paulo and is well placed to share some of the difficulties and rewards of living in Brazil. She shares with us her experience, so read on for her story.

Where are you from?
I have 2 passports, British and Brazilian, and an American green card – so home” is wherever I am at the moment, which is São Paulo. But, my father was a Scotsman and most of my education was in the UK, so I communicate better in English!

When did you return to Brazil and what brought you here?
We moved back to Brazil from Charlotte, North Carolina in 2001 when my husband came to start up an American company in Campinas. Once he completed that project, we decided to put down roots in the country and moved to São Paulo, to be nearer to my mother and our younger daughter.

What do you do?
I work as a freelance counsellor (British spelling!), mostly with expatriates, but also do some translation work and private coaching.

What do you miss about your other “homes”?
I miss our married daughter and her family (especially our 2 grandsons) in the USA, and friends in England and Scotland.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
The fact that my degree and other qualifications are from British or American institutions means that I must go through the hassle of “revalidaão” before rejoining a Brazilian school or other organization, but the red tape involved is terribly time consuming.

What do you most like about Brazil?
This is a beautiful country, with (mostly) good weather, friendly people and lots to do, so it is difficult to select one quality above the others!

What is your favourite restaurant here?
I like Josephine’s in Vila Nova Conceião, but have also recently discovered “A Cozinha” on my street (Prof. Filadelfo de Azevedo) and that also has excellent food.

Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your experiences in Brazil?
Early last year my husband was in a nasty bike accident and had to be transferred from a hospital in Campinas to the Osvaldo Cruz, here in São Paulo. In order to avoid the risk of him bringing an infection into the hospital with one of the best reputations in the country, we were put into quarantine for the first 5 days of his stay. All the nurses, doctors and other staff had to dress up like astronauts when they came into our room, and you should have seen the faces of the people who didn’t understand what was going on. I’m sure that they suspected him of having SARS! However, I also wish to praise the hospital for their excellent care.

What differences between your (other) homelands and Brazil do you find most striking?
Brazilians are much more relaxed about punctuality and keeping to work deadlines, which can be frustrating. They are also much less disciplined in traffic, which I find terrifying.

What are some of the things in Brazil that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
The best time to visit museums, parks or other attractions in the city is during long weekends when the town is relatively empty. For the same reason, it is best to avoid going to the beaches or other resorts during the holiday periods when they tend to be crowded, but do try to see as much of the country as possible. One outing I really enjoyed recently was walking down the old “Serra do Mar” (the old road to Santos).

Penny Freeland works as a counsellor in São Paulo and can be contacted at: or, by phone (11) 3887-5431

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

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

Are you are foreigner living in Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to

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