AnaVitoria250June 27, 2008

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Ana Vitoria Joly. Read on as Ana Vitoria 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’m from São Paulo and work as researcher and lecturer in the UK.

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

That’s something I’ve never thought about, but I think the language is the major obstacle.

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

In my opinion it’s to think that most people speak and understand English. I’ve seen foreigners trying to explain to the coach driver where they would like to go, surprised that the coach driver looked very puzzled they repeated the same thing really slowly, like it would make any difference… Lucky for them there were people around to help, but in some parts of the country this could be very difficult…

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

In Egypt I was really impressed with the dress code for woman. I was aware we should not show our arms and legs, but even dressing suitably I was surprised with the way people looked at me when I was not wearing the veil.

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

Now I’m used to the English accent and find it really elegant, but when I first got here it was really hard to understand it so I used to prefer the American accent.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

Cairo and Bali, because they were the most different places I’ve been.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Japanese and Curry, but I’ve never been to Japan or India.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Favourite foreign band is a hard one for a Brazilian abroad. I like several bands, but my favourites will be always Brazilian at the moment, something that makes me feel closer to home.

I’ve been reading fiction lately, but my favourite books are still my research books on interactive television. I love the Interactive Television Production” by Mark Gawlinski.

Movies there are too many, the last one I saw and really really liked was the British film “Son of Rambow”.

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

I’m not sure about the difference, I’ve never dated a foreigner… I’ve heard there is a culture shock, but I think in relationships there will always be differences on the way people are raised and their expectations.

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

Well, I had a huge problem with the marking scheme here in the UK. When I first got exams and coursework to mark I followed some Brazilian standards and when I submitted the marks the module leader scheduled an urgent meeting. In Brazil, seven is usually an average mark, here the equivalent, seventy, is distinction and given when the work is beyond that which is normally expected.

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 suggest to go to a “Festa Junina” and dance the “Quadrilha”. I think the folk dance with silly jokes, the costumes, the games, traditional food, the “quentão”. All this may not give a better understanding of Brazilian people nowadays, but certainly, after some alcohol when people are gathered around the fire, foreigners can probably understand Brazilian people and our culture. And if not, they will at least have some fun!

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 Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series click below:

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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