April 15, 2009

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Ubiratan S. Malta. Read on as Ubiratan 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 was born in Salvador, in the State of Bahia. I moved to the Netherlands in 2004. Since then I have been living here with my Dutch partner. In 2008 I became a Dutch-Brazilian citizen. In Brazil I worked for many years and as teacher of English and in the Holland I work as a account executive (call center rep) doing customer service, telemarketing and telesales on behalf of different international publishers. I call Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Latin America and sometimes Asian countries.

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

I believe that the main obstacle is the language. Portuguese is not an easy language to learn, and not very common. Any effort is worth and the social interactions helps a lot in enhacing your language skils and fluency.

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

Well, some foreigners have the idea that Brazil is between the Amazon (the jungle) and the sea and people dance carnival almost everyday. They think things are easy to be solved but we have a lot bureaucracy and paper work to do until a problem or procedure can be solved.

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

Well, by experience I would say that Dutch sense of humor is quite close to the British. But Dutch people used to be very straight to the point , they are really direct when they have something to say, while the other western countries use more diplomacy.

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

I like the standard British English and the Canadian accent, but in Brazil most of the language schools teach American English. My English is more influenced by the North American standard.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

Well, I would say Antwerp is a lovely city to visit, it has a very nice atmosphere with its cafs and cosmopolitan sphere and it is less than two hours by train from where I live.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Italian food, but I fond very much of potatoes with vegetables and a steak.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Cranberries and Aerosmith.

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

Well, The approach is the same, but its seems that sometimes the Dutch need more time to feel comfortable with you until he or she take a decision.

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

Most of the misunderstanding is based on the barrier of the language and in the case of Dutch language and because is a Germanic language close to German some words are easily to mistaken like the pronunciation of huur (to rent) and hoer (whore). Another example is the word coffeeshop in Netherlands is a cannabis coffeeshop and koffiehuis is a coffeeshop in Dutch.

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

Well I would suggest to be open minded and patient in order the way of life of Brazilian and do not see our relaxed and laid back attitude as something negative. Be aware of the differences between Portuguese and Spanish and do not assume that they are alike in all senses. Portuguese pronunciation is quite difficult for some Spanish native speakers.

You can follow Ubiratan’s website at www.biramalta.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:

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

Can’t make this up