Paulista Andreas Saller has travelled extensively throughout the world and lived as an exchange student in the US. He often entertains foreign guests, and is doing well in his marketing and advertising career. Through years of practice he has perfected the art of caipiroska-mixing, which he happily passes on to his gringo friends and associates.
Where are you from and what do you do?
I’m from São Paulo and I do events and promotional marketing for companies such as banks, cellular phone services, cable television, and so on.
What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
I think not knowing the places and culture can be an obstacle because Brazil is so big and diverse. Language can be a problem, too, but actually communicating is not so bad because Brazilians are so accommodating.
What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
I think the biggest one is that some people believe in misconceptions about Brazil, even after they’ve been here. For example, a lot of foreign guys think that the ladies in Brazil are easy.” Some people also don’t respect the way to behave, and especially the way to dress, because their image of Brazil is a big beach party. Don’t wear tennis shoes to a disco in São Paulo.
What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
Germans are cold if they don’t know you, but if they know you they are completely different. It’s unbelievable how money-oriented Americans are, but they are also very organized.
Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
I prefer the US accent because that’s the one I learned. For me the others are strange. My cousin’s Scottish accent is like singing, and I can’t understand Australians.
Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
It’s difficult to answer because I’ve been lucky enough to know so many places, but three places are very important to me: Prague because it’s where my parents are from; Africa because it has amazing diversity like Brazil; and Russia because I could still feel the communism.
Favourite foreign food?
Favourite foreign band, book, and movie?
Mana (from Mexico)
The Firm (by John Grisham)
What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and a foreigner?
I think it’s easier for Brazilians outside Brazil to date foreigners because the barriers are down. You’re more open and you can know people better, but at the same time you don’t know how to say things-to express yourself fully.
Can you share an incident, misunderstanding, or “culture shock” that you have experienced with a foreigner?
Brazilians always do this with Asian people outside the country-they touch. Brazilians have to touch, and it drives some Asians crazy. Also, Brazilians in the US get culture shock from the strict rules like 2am closing time in bars. And there is no public transportation at that time so it’s expensive to take a taxi. I think in Brazil the night clubs respect the consumer, but in the US the customer respects the place.
What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
First, get out of the usual life-go to the street and walk. Try always to speak with Brazilians and ask them for advice about what to see or do. Don’t trust the guides, especially the Japanese one (it has some bad information about where to stay in SP). If you talk to me, I’ll give you tips about what I like. Every person will give you different advice, but it will always be good.
Second, in Rio or São Paulo you can meet people from everywhere in Brazil, but they all have the same motivation (money). You need to get out and see the rest of the country to see the real people and language.
Andreas can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
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