November 15, 2011

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Tatiane Silva. Read on as Tatiane 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&#145m an English teacher and university student (Tourism) who was born and currently lives in São Paulo.

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

The language. Especially for those who are learning Portuguese and can&#145t stand people teasing or laughing at their accent. It happens a lot here in São Paulo. People either make fun or think it’s cute. There’s also the driving and directions, which I think is even tough for us Brazilians. Traffic here is crazy and some simple rules are not respected like stopping at the stop sign, like they do in most civilized countries.

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

They think Brazilians are all warm and cheerful despite the difficulties, which is not true. We have all kinds of people here too, no matter what region. Well, maybe Bahia is an exception to this case… lol … they do have very warm, cheerful and welcoming people indeed… even the grumpy ones are not that grumpy.

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

I think Brazilians are much more explorers than foreign people. I think we&#145ve got less fear of the unknown. We go further on getting to know people, places, cultures, etc, beyond what’s laid out in front of our eyes. Therefore, creativeness is also our great asset.

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

I love to hear the British accent, especially when they&#145re male voices…
it’s really charming and refined, but I&#145m more used to speaking the American accent, which is more continuous and more melodic (seems like).

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

I&#145m stuck between three places because there’s a different feeling about each of them: Switzerland – England – Thailand. Switzerland’s natural beauty, England’s variety of cultural places to visit and Thailand’s welcoming vibe.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Im in love with most British things in the showbiz area. Keane is my favorite band nowadays, but I also love Elton John. I read the whole Harry Potter book series when I was going through a tough phase of my life, so those put me out of my misery whenever I need a break from it. Evita is my favorite movie ever.

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

I believe it’s mostly the language (laughs). Based on personal experience I can tell they are very much alike and it’s relative. It depends on age, background and whether you&#145ve met them in your country or theirs. The ones who go abroad have, obviously, a more easy-going and determined nature.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or &#145culture shock&#145 that you have experienced with a foreigner?

Once in the US a man dropped a bill by the cashier and I instantly bent down to pick it up to return it to him, but he took my nice gesture as completely rude, as if I was intending to keep the money for myself. And back to the language differences, my family is very used to creating weird nicknames for intimate people, especially newcomers (boyfriends/girlfriends).

They gave some nicknames to my ex-unitedstatian” boyfriend and that ended up being a topic for further discussions between us because he took it as very offensive. I remember once in India someone came up to me and told me “You look like a wealthy Hindi person, except you&#145re way too fat”… I obviously would take it as very rude if I had heard it in Brazil, but I had observed before the incident that Hindi people are normally very frank (way frank… lol).

Another time, also in India, the landlord would come into the house we had rented without even knocking. Sometimes he even went in when nobody was home. So we decided to write a note so he could ring the bell and we also changed the locks. One day the people I lived with (Brazilian and British) left for a walk while I stayed in my room with the door locked from the inside. In India they normally use locks both inside and outside the door instead of keys.

I decided to leave the room when I found myself locked from the outside. I peeked under the door and I saw the landlord’s feet. He had locked me inside my room so I wouldn&#145t come across him checking the house.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

Id recommend them to meet real Brazilians and stick to them while here, get to know them, their families and friends. Most Brazilians are very eager to make people feel at home and they surely would be pleased to welcome new friends into their circle. By real Brazilians I mean the ones who work hard and yet have fun. I would also suggest they try and search for the best gathering places (we call them “Points”) in town, since theyll always find there large groups of good friends. Every town in Brazil has one for sure, whether it’s a pub, a restaurant, a park or even a gas station! There’s also volunteering for those who like to donate a little bit of their time to make someone happy. And if they&#145re in São Paulo, I&#145d be glad to help them with that ;). You can reach me at

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

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Regina Scharf
Rebecca Carvalho
Augusto Uehara
Ana da Silva
Daniel Bertorelli
Marco Cassol
Ana Clark
Vanessa Agricola
Ubiratan S. Malta
Brescia Terra
Renata Andraus
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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