September 8, 2014
This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Ana Gauz. Read on as Ana tells us about her impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.
1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?
I am from Rio (I used to live in Leblon) and I am currently working at a very nice store as a sales associate (my first retail job ever!). Back in Brazil, I used to work in the film industry.
2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
I believe the obstacles are the same to any person that moves to a different country: adjusting to another culture, the food, how people relate to each other, the way they dress… Not to mention the language!
3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
As tourists, I would say not trying (hard) to blend in, in order to avoid attracting burglars and scammers, as well as displaying their nice and big and expensive cameras at any place. In our online world, one should know better than visiting a place without learning about it in advance. About expats living in Brazil, I just don’t know.
4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
In the US, it’s the way people dress, especially bathing suits. I’ve been living here for 5 years and sometimes I think I will never get used to them. But I also believe it’s more so in the suburbs, where I live. Whenever I go to a big city, I usually see more people dressed more accordingly to what I was used to in Brazil. I mean, more contemporary and youthful.
5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
I love the English language. Period. Every accent has its own beauty. The American accent just flows, it’s music to my ears. The British one sounds sophisticated. The Australian and South-African accents are fun.
6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
Hawaii, hands down. Natural beauty that reminded me of Brazil (except for the volcanos, of course), but more developed, with better services.
7. Favourite foreign food?
Italian food. Portuguese desserts.
8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
Band – Queen Book – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen Movie – I can’t choose just one. There are sooo many! I love all Woody Allen’s movies, but there are so many others: The Untouchables, The Piano, Amlie, The Hunt, The Truman Show…
9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
I have never dated a foreigner and most of my friends are married to Brazilian men. Sorry!
10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?
Sure! I have many incidents, but the one that struck me the most was when an acquaintance of mine told me, very straightforward, that she doesn’t mind hugging but she does not like being touched, after I rubbed her shoulder as I greeted her. I just said OK”, not knowing exactly what to think about it. But later, I came to the conclusion that I had to adapt, since I am not in Brazil anymore, where everybody touches each other all the time. I’d rather have someone saying that right away than feeling disgusted at my touch or starting to avoid me.
11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
Just be open, adventurous, try to enjoy the good things and be careful, a little more than Brazilians themselves need to be. Also, here are some practical tips (more than 2):
1. If you are invited to a party that is supposed to start at 9pm, do not show up before 10 or 10:30pm. The host won’t be ready. Not even business or school meetings start on time. It’s a cultural thing. 2. Try getting used to greeting a friend or acquaintance you come across in the streets, even if you are in a hurry, with 2 kisses on the cheek. Exchange some words, say you are in a hurry, and say goodbye with 2 more kisses. You only don’t need to do this if the person is a little far away or if it is someone you hardly know. 3. People are curious about foreigners, so expect a lot of questions. Obviously you don’t have to answer all of them, but be prepared. We, Brazilians, suffer from “the mongrel complex”. 4. People do not say “Excuse me” when someone is on their way. In Brazil, people just find their way through the crowd, without a word. I prefer the way Americans do.
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 email@example.com.
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