July 11, 2008

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Renata Andraus. Read on as Renata 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 São Paulo and work with events, developing new business and driving more Brazilian attendance to international exhibitions, organizing delegations of executives from different sectors

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

First the language, because different from what many people believe not every Brazilian speaks English and if the purpose of the trip is tourism or especially business it is important to have someone speaking Portuguese for intermediate conversations and to translate different things. Brazilians are very friendly and always try to understand but it helps a lot having someone in the group that speaks the language.

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

Being overly concerned with safety issues and not researching about the country and its culture before traveling. Every country has problems with safety, especially the major cities in the world like New York, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil and every tourist needs to be careful with some things. But it does not mean a tourist cannot walk around or cannot use the metro and public transportation. From my experience because I receive many foreigners coming for business they always leave the country very surprised about everything: food, hotels, quality of service, people and even safety.

My advice would be to research about the country and cities you are going to visit and come open minded to a different culture and try new things e.g. food. For example if an American comes to Brazil and only wants to eat at American restaurants he will have this option, but why not try and enjoy the differences from home.

Another mistake is to come to Brazil and only think about Rio de Janeiro, Rio is beautiful but there is so much to see including amazing beaches in places like Fernando de Noronha, Fortaleza, Salvador, Iguassu falls, Amazonia to see the rainforest or Pantanal. If a foreigner comes 5 times to Brazil he won’t be able to see all.

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

In South Africa people are always smiling and have a great sense of humour.

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

I prefer American, probably because I learned English living in the USA with an American family during an exchange program. It sounds more familiar to me.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

South Africa was my favorite trip because of the mix: very friendly people, great service, beautiful views specially in Cape Town and the safari something I always wanted to do. I felt at home in South Africa.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Italian and Japanese food.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

I like Shania Twain and Bon Jovi, favorite book Harry Potter and movie The Lord of the Rings.

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

I never dated a foreigner but I guess Brazilians are closer to their family, considering that we don’t leave the house of our parents usually until we get married and we are always together doing family trips, lunches and dinners and foreigners are more independent of the family because leave the house with 17 years old to go to college in a different city.

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

I guess I can call a culture shock when I lived in the USA as an exchange student and could see how difficult it was to make friends. I guess in Brazil when we have someone from another country we want to help, and instantly become friends, we are really open to that and in the USA it took a while to break the ice” because Americans don’t instantly become friends, but once they do is about the same in Brazil.

Another shock for me while a student was to hear some questions about my country, such as: Do you have McDonald’s there? Do you have ice cream? Do you live in trees? Does it rain there? That was a shock for me to know that many people didn’t have an idea of what Brazil was.

And as a professional working with Americans to understand that they are very brief and objective about everything and we are not. I had to deal with these cultural differences when sending e-mails and when traveling also.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?You can contact Renata at re_andraus@hotmail.com.

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 gringoes@www.gringoes.com

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

Ana Vitoria Joly
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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