July 12, 2011
This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Augusto Uehara. Read on as Augusto 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?
I’m from the east side of São Paulo city, from a lower middle class neighbourhood, boring place to grow up, but it had a good bus service into the town centre.
2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
First would be the language. The average Brazilian generally only speaks Portuguese, so speaking a second language is not common place and considering how language education is lacking there, even a reasonably educated person would not be expected to speak a second language.
Secondly, Brazil is not tourist-friendly. Wandering around in most cities is difficult even for Brazilians, with the exception of Brasilia and Rio do Janeiro, most cities won’t have a proper tourist infra-structure and with the exception of the largest cities, you won’t even find a tourist information centre easily.
3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
Not getting the basic grasp of Portuguese to wander around is possibly the worst offender. Also, with regards to security, as pickpockets and the likes are everywhere, but I reckon this is an issue in any big urban centre.
Also, quite a few foreigners have GRINGO” written on their heads, which makes them prey to some sort of tourist exploitation.
4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
Dress and formality. You can’t really tell social class from the way people dress here, also, in a general things are a lot more formal here as well.
5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
Queen’s English. Or perhaps South Londoner. Cockney amuses me as well.
6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
There’s several amazing places I’ve been to, but if I have to choose only one, then it has to be Japan. I’ve been there a couple times and every time I go there, I feel like I there’s so much to explore from the traditional castles and temples to the hi-tech shops.
7. Favourite foreign food?
Japanese and Italian, both have amazing simple comfort food as well as sophisticated dishes that can match any occasion. Well, at least that’s my opinion.
8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
An American punk-cabaret band called The World/Inferno Friendship Society right now. But Canadians from Rush always creep back as my favourite band from time to time. I’ve liked Siddharta from Hermann Hesse a lot, but only read it twice. What gets several re-reads is actually a series of graphic novels called Sandman. And a movie has got to be the first Matrix. I believe I’ve watched it over a 100 times over the years.
9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
The timelines are way too different. Also, Europeans in general seem way more straightforward and open. Strange as it may sound, Brazilians are very conservative on that regard.
10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?
No incident comes to mind, but once I was offered a beer in a bus, simply because the guys never saw an oriental Brazilian before. Perhaps one “cultural shock” I had coming over here is that in Brazil races are a lot more mixed, so they hardly have a really “black” black person as we do here.
11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
Go to a Barbecue party and shop at an open market.
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.
To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
Ana da Silva
Ubiratan S. Malta
Ana Vitoria Joly
Samara Klug Szachnowicz
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Patrcia C. Ribeiro