This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Sandra Partridge. Sandra has lived for many years in the USA with her husband, and originally lived in Rio de Janeiro. Read on as Sandra 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 was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. I have been living in the US (Chicago) for the last 15 years. Actually, I came to the US to get married. 18 years ago I met my husband in Rio (American from Indiana) and dated him for 2 years. During these 2 years my husband went to Brazil several times and we kind of explored other countries together before getting married. I work as an International Sales Support for a manufacturing company here in Chicago.
2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
One, in my opinion, is the language. Portuguese is not a very easy language to learn. The other obstacle is the safety issue. If you live in a big city like Rio or São Paulo you always have to watch over your shoulders when on the streets. Here in the US, I don’t have that concern.
3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
Comparing the two cultures, way of living and expecting to find that things in Brazil would work just like at home.
4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
Americans dress very sloppy and very conservative. Brazilians (especially women) dress very sexy and trendy. Also, in the US we live to work; in Brazil we work to live. Brazilians do celebrate life; they know how to enjoy it to the fullest.
5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
To me the British accent is very sexy. My American friends love my Brazilian accent.
6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
I have traveled extensively around the world but my favorite place so far is the Santorini Island in Greece, and Portofino in Italy. Santorini is just magical and Portofino gives you the idea that you are living inside a post card. Both places are awesome!
7. Favourite foreign food?
Brazilian food is most definitely the best.
8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
My favorite singer is Brazilian Daniela Mercury. My favorite book is Midnight Express (Sidney Sheldon) and my favorite movie is the classic Gone with the Wind.
9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
Brazilian are great kissers and very romantic. Americans are not very romantic and still have a lot to learn as far as how to please a woman in all senses. My husband has had to learn lots about how to kiss, etc, etc.
10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?
Yes, I have several but one that stuck in my mind was when I first met my husband. I come from a very close family and I am very close to my parents, specially my mother. Even as an adult I used to seat in her lap all the times. During one of my husband’s visits to Brazil he was a guest in my house for 3 months. One night I was at my mom’s lap while watching TV when my husband entered the room. He was so surprised to see a 20 years old seating at her mom’s lap. He turned to me and said aren’t you too old to be seating at your mom’s lap? This is so embarrassing!!”
Another one was when he met my family for the first time. He was shocked to see that there were 3 servants (living in) in my household. He turned to me and said “wow!! Your parents must be loaded”.
11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
Leave your misconceptions at home. Be open minded and experience new things. Learn a little bit of Portuguese before going to Brazil. If you do that, you will just love Brazilians, their food, their culture. You will learn that Brazil is much more than a beach, soccer and samba. Brazilians are friendly, generous, welcoming and a very happy people.
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 Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series click below:
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