This week in our continuing foreigners through Brazilian eyes series we have an interview with Elizabeth Sacknus, a System Analyst from São Paulo who has also travelled to various other countries. Read on as Elizabeth tells us about her impressions of Gringos, and gives some helpful advice also.

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

Im in São Paulo and Im a System Analyst, working with SAP.

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

The language – it is not common to meet Brazilians who talk in English, or other languages besides Portuguese.

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

I think every tourist should travel here with a pocket dictionary, knowing basics about Portuguese. Another remark is about baths – Brazilians take showers every day, even more than once a day because of the hot weather. Some cultures dont have this habit, due to the weather in their country. But here, if somebody doesn’t smell good this is considered shameful. Another mistake comes from the gesture meaning ok; the same symbol that Americans, for example, indicate as ok” means a bad word here.

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

I think Europeans dress very well, and in some cases they dont acept jokes. On the other hand, mostly when a European says something, he/she means it, differently from Brasilians, who are sarcastic a lot.

Mexicans, Americans, Latin American countries have more humor, but they can also be more sarcastic. People from Asia are direct.

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

I think I prefer American, from the North of the country, because Im more used to this. But I think English from other parts of the world has its charm. The ones that I have difficulty understanding are English from Texas or with an Indian accent.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

I loved Cascais, in Portugal, near to Lisbon. It has a unique geography, a pleasant place. I also loved the pyramids near Ciudad del Mexico. I like Buenos Aires a lot also.

7. Favourite foreign food?

I liked “duck rice” (arroz de pato) in Portugal and Tacos in Mexico (although without chilli/ pepper, which I cannot stand). There is also the “Pastel de Santa Clara” in Portugal, really nice.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Band: A-ha, Alphaville, Movie music.
Book: Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown), Stephen King’s and Edgar Allan Poe books, technical (how things work and SAP), historical, management, curiosities. I love reading.
Movie: The Bicentennial Man, The Black Stallion, All the Back to the Future movies, X Files, Star Trek, Love Potion Number 9, Two spies and a Baby, and so many more. I love movies.

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

I didnt experience that, but I hear that foreigners are delighted by the Brazilian softer way with relationships.

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

Mostly the signs between cultures are different. Some gestures, like I mentioned before. And in food – in Mexico I went to a KFC store to have dinner to go. I asked for chicken and french fries. When I arrived at the hotel room, and started to eat, I noticed that everything was covered with hot chilli… I starved that night, after trying to get some chicken pieces, and didn’t have a great time in the bathroom the next day!

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 the beaches – I would recommend Fortaleza, Recife, Maceió. If in São Paulo, go to the bars at night – you can choose whatever food in the world you would like, and there are a lot of shows and events. But always travel with a trustworthy company, because there are also a lot of pickpockets here.

To read previous interviews in the Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series click below:

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

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

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