Turkey’s Yasemin de Pinto met her Brazilian husband on the internet and moved to Brazil without ever having visited the country. She now works as an English teacher and has taken to Brazil like a duck to water, she has fallen in love with the food, people and the wildlife. Share her experiences adapting to the large differences that exist between her homeland Turkey and Brazil along with a great story about drinking tea (or not!).

Where are you from?
I’m from Turkey. I lived in the Biblical city Izmir (Smyrna) since I was born.

When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I came to Brazil in September 2001 to marry my husband after we had dated for two years through the internet. He had visited me in Turkey before my coming here, but we couldn’t decide if we wanted to live in Turkey, so I moved to Brazil even though I had never been there before.

What do you do?
I’m an EFL (English as a foreign language) teacher in a private school at the moment. It seems to be the easiest job that a gringo can get! I’ve been a teacher for three years now and I quite enjoy teaching the Brazilians, they respect you much more when you are from an unknown land.

What do you miss about home when you are in Brazil?
Well, of course I miss my family a lot and the Mediterranean culture, but I especially miss the times when I used to watch The International Jazz Festival” in an open air amphitheater beneath the summer sky. I always looked forward to it and it’s something that I’ll never find in São Paulo. But for the most part I feel very much at home here.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
I can’t call it frustrating since I had nor expectations when I came here, but I can say I got really shocked to see the visual pollution caused by graffiti and also the homeless people sleeping on the streets. When I saw someone lying right in the middle of the pavement or even on the street I thought that he/she was dead and I just couldn’t understand why people didn’t help the person. It’s sad but nowadays I am used to this scene and it doesn’t shock me as much as it used to.

What do you most like about Brazil?
Many things; I like Brazilian people for being so open-minded and welcoming, I like the natural beauties especially Foz de Iguau and, most importantly, I like the biodiversity that Brazil offers. I’m a bird lover and I just stand open-mouthed every time I visit a pet shop full of papagaios, araras, agapornis, etc. I myself have some exotic birds that I could never have in Turkey.

What’s your favorite restaurant here?
I just love Brazilian food, so any restaurant which is clean is ok by me. Maybe one of the reasons that I adapted so easily here is that I liked everything I ate. I can recommend Baby Beef for churrasco lovers, Mineiro restaurants for typical Brazilian food, Feira de Repblica on Sundays for acaraj, Mercado Municipal for a great mortadella or ham sandwich and as an alternative, Feira de Liberdade on Sundays for Japanese and Chinese food. But never Churrasco Grego!

Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
The funny stories I have are generally based on my poor Portuguese. Once I was in a training course and the receptionist asked me if I had a ‘crach ‘ which means name tag but I understood it as ‘quer ch ? ‘ which is ‘do you want some tea?’ and I said ‘No, thanks I don’t want tea now’. She just gave me a long blank stare.

What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
Surely the freedom of being what you want to be. There is a great harmony between people from different ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. And no one judges you because you’re different. In my country you have to be what others want you to be, if you are different you are treated unfairly; the social pressure is so strong. Here I feel myself free and this is the most striking difference between Brazil and my country.

What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
I haven’t traveled a lot in Brazil so I’ll tell what you must do if you are a tourist in São Paulo. First you must get a view of the whole city from the top of Banespa building. Then, visit 25 de Maro and Mercado Municipal and if it’s a Sunday you can first see the handicraft fair in Praa da Repblica and in the afternoon watch a classical music concert or Bal da Cidade de São Paulo performance at Teatro Municipal. Ibirapuera Park and the malls are the other musts. The list goes on because there are several things to do here.

Yasemin can be contacted at: yaseming10@yahoo.com

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

Amy Williams Lima – Brazil
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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