Meet Samantha Tennant, a teacher from the coastal city of Bournemouth in the UK who got married in Brazil as well as traveling and working here. Read the following interview where she tells us about her most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?
I am 31 years old, from Bournemouth, England and I am a teacher of English as a foreign language.

When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I arrived here in February 2004 to come and live with my boyfriend who I had met while travelling in Australia. I lived here for just over a year before we got married in April this year.

What were you first impressions of Brazil?
When I first got here I thought it was a very exciting place with a lot of different things going on. One of the first things I did when I arrived here was to go to the beach. My boyfriend whisked me off to the ‘Litoral Norte’ of São Paulo for a few days and I thought it was absolutely amazing. I’d never been anywhere like it before, it was so picturesque, everyone was so laid back and I loved the fact that I seemed to be the only English person there. After that, I started working in São Paulo and that was a bit of a reality check, a bit more like real life!

What do you miss most about home?
What I miss most are my family and friends. I recently went to the UK for a holiday and it was great to catch up with everyone. I think I managed to persuade people to come out and visit us, so that is something to look forward to in the near future. Other things I miss are traditional pubs, comedy on TV and a good curry.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
It has to be obtaining all the right papers to get married here and also to get a permanent visa. I have had to make so many trips to the Federal Police, various Cartórios and the British Consulate that I have lost count. I got so confused with all the papers that I needed to get signed, stamped, legalized and translated that I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. Thankfully that is all behind me now and I can start to get on with my life here.

What have been your most memorable experiences in Brazil?
My most memorable experience is getting married here. We only had a small wedding but it was really perfect, it felt really special being accepted into my new Brazilian family. Apart from that, I have to say that one of my most memorable experiences was visiting the Iguau Falls. I went there for a few days in February this year and thought they were absolutely spectacular. As I approached and saw the water at ‘the Devil’s throat’ for the first time it literally took my breath away. It really was an experience of a lifetime.

What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
The flexibility of society and the people, rules don’t seem to be followed with the same rigidity that they are in England.

What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
I don’t have a particular favourite place but I like going to the many small bars and pizza restaurants that there are in Pompéia, the suburb where I live. I love trying new places to eat and drink and there is definitely no shortage of those in São Paulo.

What differences between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
There are so many differences that it is hard to know where to start. The longer I am here the more differences I come across. Of course the weather is an obvious difference, I love hot weather and I think it is great that the winter is so short and not really a ‘proper’ winter. Another thing that I have noticed is how hard people in São Paulo work. It seems quite normal for people to regularly work until ten at night and at weekends. Related to that is how late things happen here. Shopping centres open until 10 at night and it is quite common to see football matches starting as late as 10 at night. Of course that is not to mention the bars and clubs which no-one goes to until at least midnight. By that time in England most pubs have been shut for an hour!

What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Don’t get too frustrated or angry if things don’t go your way at first. There is definitely a cultural adaptation to be made. Things in Brazil may happen a little slower than you are used to but they will happen eventually. Brazil is not an easy country to live in but there is a certain character and friendliness about the country and its people that you will hopefully grow to like more and more.

What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo ?
Go to the beaches and the countryside in and around São Paulo. There are lots of great places to escape to and explore. I really enjoy going to the beaches on the north coast. Also, try and visit Ilha Bela if you can. There are also some nice quiet places in the countryside to get away to for the weekend. I’ve visited and loved Monte Verde and Penedo. Campos de Jordão is also interesting if you can brave the crowds to observe Brazilian winter culture.

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

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

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 gringoes@www.gringoes.com

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