June 18, 2013
Meet João Ferreira who is currently living in Brazil. Read the following interview in which João 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.?
My name is João. I was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal. I lived in Boston, MA later for several years after college, relocated by the company I worked for back then. I work with soil stabilization slurries which had me travelling for over a decade around the world as a consultant in many different major foundation projects. So, moving to another country wasn’t a new experience to me. Later I started my own business with an improved technology.
2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I regard my arrival in Brazil as having two different stages. I first came over in 2008 to oversee a project in north-eastern Brazil, Cear and stayed for almost 9 months in a beautiful location, Cumbuco, about 25km from Fortaleza, CE. This was when and where I met the woman I married and my main reason for returning.
She left with me and we got married in Lisbon. We moved back in early 2011, primarily because she claimed not to have adjusted to Europe. Secondly the business opportunities in my line of work which at the time I considered and turned out to be a good investment opportunity.
3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?
Disorganized, too laid back, dirty…
4. What do you miss most about home?
That would have to be my family and the food…
5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
My divorce and the totally unexpected circumstances that led to it.
6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
We did this vacation in Fernando de Noronha. I love everything about the ocean, scuba diving, etc. To mention one memorable incident that would have to be swimming in the ocean with wild dolphins nearby.
7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
In general, the great weather where I live.
8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
That would be the Mucuripe club in Fortaleza. There are some nice restaurants, but I find the food in most parts of Brazil to be dull.
9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
This one time at the hotel we were staying a huge iguana entered the pool and started swimming around. There were women screaming, grabbing the children… rushing to get out. The minute they all got out everybody grabbed their cameras to take pictures and when it got out of the pool people just followed it taking pictures as if it was an alien of some sort. We were having lunch by the pool at the time and this was quite entertaining.
10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
The absurd 20th century bureaucracy. Sometimes it makes me feel like the early 80’s are back. Don’t get me wrong, but certain things do take time and patience to get used to. The other thing I find illogical is the feeling of Brazil somehow having way too many unnecessary laws and as many ways to go around them, but only inconsequential things are actually verified by the proper authorities.
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?
If I had to compare it, the best way to put it would be as if an Englishman would move to Texas. I mean, I spoke the language all my life… but then again, it isn’t exactly the same language. It took time for people to understand me as the accents are too different and there are some words that are exactly alike but mean different things. We have words that in Portugal are normal that can be extremely offensive in Brazil and the same happens the other way around. Other from that, I do tend to confuse native words that do not have a Portuguese background.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Be aware that most times there will be more than one answer to your question or problem, especially related to documents concerning legalizing your resident status; the same question can be asked to five different people with five different answers.
Watch out for lawyers who are friends of friends wanting to help you and suddenly charging absurd amounts of money for services rendered to do things that in most cases you can do yourself.
Always match information given to you with existing information through proper official channels. As in most countries and cities around the world, learn about where you are; learn what to do and how to perform in an emergency situation before you actually need it.
Be careful and learn where you can go and cannot especially at night.
Most of all, be patient or learn to be. Persevere. Otherwise you’re in for an awful experience. Stay safe.
13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
I don’t know São Paulo well enough to express an accurate opinion, but in general when visiting a foreign country, one’s ability to adjust greatly depends on how fast you understand local culture. There are many museums and historical landmarks, great places to visit. This information is easy to find at most hotels which sometimes even organize free visits.
Depending where you are… it is a big country!!
Enjoy the beaches, the food, the atmosphere, music and the people. Brazilians in general treat visitors well and are nice and easy people to get along with.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.