April 17, 2009
This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Vanessa Agricola. Read on as Vanessa 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?
São Paulo. I’m a fulltime freelance screenwriter.
2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
Speaking Portuguese, of course, and making Brazilian friends. I see most foreigners hanguing around with other foreigners.
3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
Treating people as if they were dumb, flirting with woman as if they were easy, drinking caipirinhas as if they are water, going topless as if they were in Barcelona.
4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
I love British humour, also Irish, and French… dry humour in general, but those three make me laugh a lot. As for the Americans, I find it really entertaining how they worry about everything, such as the end of the world.
5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
The American accent is the one I’ve learned to speak and understand. I wish I could make the British accent, it sounds chic.
6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
Not in Brazil? I love every trip, Europe in general is always amazing, charming, full of history and great wine. But I feel at home in New York, because there are people from everywhere and they all seem to love movies and Brazilian women.
7. Favourite foreign food?
8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
I’m too ecletic to make a list of favorites but I love jazz! From Amy Winehouse to those that are dead already: Ella, Louis, Sarah, Miles, the giants. Right now I’ve been on and on with Miss Kittin’s new album (electronic). And something that is always playing at home is Janis Joplin.
My favorite books are Brazilian. Currently I’m in love with books about spirituality such as Aghora, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, The Great Mother… we don’t have those in Brazil. As for literature, who doesn’t feel for Shakeaspeare? And the antique Sci-Fi, such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Clarke, Uma Odisseia no Espao!”.
As for the movies, Woody Allen, Almodovar, Fellini, Tarantino, Orson Wells, Hitchcock… anything from those guys is tremendous. But I have a special thing for the Americans 80’s, comedies, very Hollywood. The other day I saw Rocky II and had a blast, it’s hysterical.
9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
Lots! Foreigners take things more seriously, I think, and also are more romantic. Brazilians, on the other hand, are much warmer. But you never know if a Brazilian is going to be there tomorrow or not. There’s no tomorrow in a Brazilian’s life.
10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?
I was in England, starving, after a 12 hour flight, and a Brit asked me if I was hungry. As a Brazilian I said I wasn’t. As a Brit she said, “Ok, Good night, then”. I couldn’t sleep that night. She was supposed to insist, based on my Brazilian mind.
11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
Once in Brazil be with Brazilians. They will tell you what to do and help you understand how everything and everyone works. Getting to know how people function in our world and how our world functions for people is crucial. Not everything, actually most nothing, is based on the rules that you have and you should open your mind to see it shouldn’t be. There are different rules in Brazil: Go with the flow, is rule number one. Leave prejudice at home, surrender to what’s new and have fun.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
To read previous interviews in the Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series click below:
Ubiratan S. Malta
Ana Vitoria Joly
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