March 12, 2013

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Kledson Pires. Read on as Kledson tells us about his impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

Born and raised in São Paulo. I have studied in New York City for over a year and visited Canada several times (from east to west). I am a civil servant and have been moonlighting teaching English/Portuguese on and off for 22 years at schools and international companies in Brazil.

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

To me, one of the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil is to think that the institutions here will work in the same way they work in their countries.

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

When a Brazilian person says drop by sometime” (aparea l em casa), you should not think you have been invited to go to his/her house. This is just something we say.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

Asian people strike me as having a painful time adapting. It seems to me they have a harder time understanding all sorts of shenanigans we do. If they ever do.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

I am used to American and Canadian accents. However, I don’t think one is supposed to have a favorite accent. I believe an accent might tell us where people are from. Just that.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

I guess I will have to say that Niagara Falls, Ontario is one place I usually think of with a gleeful smile. The Maid of the Mist boat ride takes you right up close to the magnificent Horseshoe Falls. You will get drenched, but it is worth every drop. It is a breathtaking experience. The B&Bs are romantic and the city itself offers a variety of entertainment (Marineland, for example). I am also fond of London (The British Museum is phenomenal), Toronto, ON, Golden, BC, Quebec City and New York.

7. Favourite foreign food?

That’s a no-brainer. Scallops. Any style.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Pink Floyd, Memórias Póstumas de Bras Cubas (Machado de Assis) and Amadeus.

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

When people from different cultures date, a certain degree of awkwardness is expected. The more different the cultures are, the more likely there will be some shock. Forbearance is key to smooth things out.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?

In college, there was an American girl in my class. We used to chat a lot, even though that made my best friend redden with jealousy. Anyway, as I would get closer to her, she would step back. I became concerned and thought to myself: “Do I smell?” Later, I found out she was just trying to make me respect her private space.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

I would recommend a walking tour of Historic Downtown São Paulo. In 4 square kilometers, you can visit museums (e.g. Museu Anchieta – Pateo do Collegio), theaters, pleasant restaurants (typically Paulistanos) and historic buildings (e.g. Casa da Marquesa de Santos). It really gives you a feel of what it is to live here. Shanty towns in São Paulo are thought-provoking.

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to

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

Juliana Barroso
Maria Cristina Skowronski Flynn
Antonia Sales
Augusto Gomes
Tatiane Silva
Regina Scharf
Rebecca Carvalho
Augusto Uehara
Ana da Silva
Daniel Bertorelli
Marco Cassol
Ana Clark
Vanessa Agricola
Ubiratan S. Malta
Brescia Terra
Renata Andraus
Ana Vitoria Joly
Helio Araujo
Adriano Abila
Anderson Ferreira
Sandra Partridge
Samara Klug Szachnowicz
Flavius Ferrari
Daniela Ribeiro
Adriano Gomes
Elizabeth Sacknus
Geberson Coelho
Rosaly Loula
Andreas Saller
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Bruno Santos
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Fernando Saffi
Gabriela Kluppel
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
Fabiano Deffenti

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