(Re)Adjusting to Living in Brazil 101

By 08:52 , , , , , ,

After coming to Brazil and starting this blog, it's been pretty fuzzy-feeling-inside nice to have people look up to me and the "brave," decision I made to come "back," to Brazil despite my circumstances.


A few weeks back, one of my blog readers, the lovely Marília, and I had a chat over messenger (MSN, windows, whatever you want to call it!) where she asked me for advice on adjusting. She's just moved back to Brazil after spending several years in Philadelphia, PA in the United States to her hometown, Indaiatuba, a suburbian-esque city in São Paulo state, and is absolutely miserable.

Since I can't stand seeing people sad, here's what I told Marília....

1. Don't compare, and DO be optimistic if you do.

First of all, my name's Polyana and the name carries an insanely optimistic energy with it. My parents also prepped me for this one. They told me, "Brazil's not the same as the US - don't think you're going to live the same lifestyle there that you do here." And it's true... here you work hard and there's never any money left over, there's poverty all over the place, someone saying, "my cell phone was robbed last night," is commonplace, nobody moves on the escalators, and clothes and electronics are sooooo expensive.

But... who cares? It's Brazil. I never have money left over because I'm always doing stuff instead of buying stuff, I'm more willing to donate my clothing, I'm more attentive when walking alone, I wait patiently behind everyone on the escalator, and I'm realistic about my spending - yeah it's expensive, but if I don't need it, I won't buy it and I have to accept the fact that I can't buy a cute new shirt every weekend anymore (instead I invest in a beer with friends after work once a week which is much cheaper than a cute new shirt!)

Plus, people think you're cocky and quite obnoxious if you keep talking about how "where I used to live, things were like this..." It is quite annoying.

2. Don't create expectations for the country.

You can't leave a place expecting the next to be the same. It has to be like... transitioning from high school to college. You don't go off to college thinking, "Sure hope it's the same as high school!" (at least not anyone in their right minds?). Most kids leave high school and go to college thinking, "I can't wait for the independence, the partying, the "college boys," the afternoon classes, etc." But you get there and realize independence can suck sometimes, the partying isn't all it's cracked up to be, college boys are the same as high school boys, and class schedules suck your freshman year.

Same thing with moving to Brazil.

Just to get it out of the way:

For those with Brazilian women expectations - no, the women here are not sex fiends who walk around sans clothing everywhere and are not willing to sleep with you for your gringoe-ness. For those with sexy Brazilian men expectations - Yes, the guys here are that yummy. \o/ ok, some aren't... but eu gosto de um homem brasileiro :-P

Don't leave the US thinking, "I'm going to the beach all day and party all night in Brazil, I'm going to eat coxinhas until I can't stand them anymore, and I'm going to be such a hot shot in Brazil because I speak English." ahem... Doing nothing all day and partying all night gets expensive; you never get tired of coxinhas, but they're so fattening; and you're not that big a deal if you speak English, especially if you're going to a big city. Actually, people think you're quite pathetic for coming to Brazil with English that great.

But ALSO don't think: "I'm going to be robbed on every corner; OMG, will I be able to use the internet; and I won't be able to survive on a measly salary in reais." I haven't been robbed (yet); I work in the internet industry here - Brazilians spend the most time online and are growing the fastest in internet use in the world; and you can certainly get by on any salary here - mine's not that great and I do all kinds of fun stuff with it! It's just a matter of learning how to budget your costs.

3. Don't be a hypocrite.

I didn't tell Marília this but I have to...

What pisses me off the most about Brazilians who leave Brazil and come back saying other countries are "soooo much more civilized," is they come back complaining and do all the "uncivilized" things they criticize!! This post made me think about how I have the same tiff:Aplicações da SPP - where the blogger writes about how people go to Europe and come back saying, "Oh, in England nobody ever throws trash in the streets," and they say this while throwing a wrapper out the car window! You ever hear the Gandhi quote, "If you wish to change teh world, start with yourself?" ... Live by it. Please?

and finally,

4. DO keep yourself busy!!

The more you do, the less you think about how much you miss where you came from and everyone there. Can't find a job? Do volunteer work. Don't have the luxury for it and need money? Teach English. Find free activities to do. Work out in the park. Get on a bus and explore the city you're in. And find ways to MEET PEOPLE. One of the best things about Brazil is, well, Brazilians! I think it's quite difficult to find a country in the world where people aren't as hospitable and friendly as they are here, so don't be shy and don't be proud, mingle awaaayyyyyy.

Hope this helps anyone who's moved or is planning on moving to Brazil (but esp. SP since that's my personal experience!).

beijosss and have a fabulous weekend!!

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