InterNations Featured Blog
Lana: Lana's Brazilian Escapades
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Brazil, etc.
My name is Lana, I´m 30 years old and originally from London. I came to Brazil for a nine month holiday over a year ago now. Originally I had planned to have a nine month break from the stresses and strains of London life. I had planned to go home, but I fell in love with the country, and the people, and so now a year later I am still here, and I am staying here!
I came looking for paradise. I wanted to escape the rain, the cold, the traffic and the overworking. I had been an EFL teacher in London and had met lots of people from all over the world, but it was the Brazilians I had loved the most. They were so warm, friendly and welcoming, and I knew I had to experience life here.
I chose to come to Brazil for my holidays because I knew that the likelihood of me ever being able to travel this far again in my life was almost zero, so if I could only do this once than I wanted to go to the furthest, most exotic place that I could. That left me with four choices: Australia, Thailand, South America or China/Japan! China and Japan had never appealed to me much and Australia was too much like home (too many English speakers) which left South America and Thailand. I chose South America over Thailand because everyone goes to Thailand and I wanted to be different. I wanted to learn about different cultures and live like a local. I wanted to fully immerse myself in the country and blend in, and there was no way a blonde-haired, pale-skinned girl from London was ever going to be able to blend in in a place like Thailand. So I chose South America.
Why Brazil? Well, I had imagined Brazil to be like a paradise. Like a dream. My imagination told me Brazil was full of beautiful people who like to party and make friends. My preconceived ideas had me believing it was a very cheap, friendly, traffic-free country with air being the only thing it had in common with England. If I had known then what I know now would I have come? No probably not, but that is the beauty of living as a local, you get to see the good and the bad!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to keep a blog because I am far too lazy and forgetful to keep telephoning all my family and friends, so by keeping a blog I could keep all of them updated at once! It was the lazy way to keep in touch, and actually, once I started writing, I used it as a way to vent my frustrations, and now it is like my own online diary. A way of remembering all my memories, good and bad!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- My favorite blog entry by far is, “Nathan - the lessons I have learnt.” A few years ago my friend Nathan was murdered by a drunk and stupid idiot. I think half the reason why I decided to give up all I had in London and come travelling was because of him and his death. From his death, I learnt that life is too short to wait for tomorrow, and so I quit my job and came. Recently, I have been thinking about him a lot. He changed my life whether he realized it or not. It is a sad blog, but one that I hope will change your life too.
- Another favourite entry of mine is, “Sao Paulo.... sunny but stressful”.It is about the stresses and strains of life in Brazil's busiest city!
- If you are planning on working in Brazil then you should read this. Do not let it put you off. Yes Brazil is a hard place to work in, but you get paid a good wage for a little bit of stress, and a lot less hours than you would do elsewhere! Not a bad deal I say!
- If you like nightclubs than this blog entry may interest you: “Vultures, shyness and the downright strange”
Tell us about the ways your new life in Brazil differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
My life here is one million times different from my life back home. Life here is so different, and the culture here is like nothing I have ever known. I have been here over a year now and I am still finding it difficult to settle in. The culture shock is immense because the culture is so wildly different, it is impossible for me, a non-drinker, non-drug-taker, and a non-party animal to get used to. If you drink, like to party and do not like to do anything quickly than Brazil will be heaven for you but if you are a shy, introverted, stay at home and watch a movie kind of person then it may be difficult to cope with, but also, like for me, extremely rewarding!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brazil? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I came to Brazil with no savings, no knowledge of the language, no friends, no job and no real idea of what I was letting myself in for. I was completely unprepared and completely some might say, completely irresponsible, but would I do anything different? No way. I have learnt so much. I have grown as a person immensely. I am a different person now. My life is a dramatically different one to the one I left behind a year ago. I am who I am today because of the lack of decisions and planning I made before I came, and for me, that has been the best way to learn and live here.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I have experienced a lot out of here from living on a favela to corrupt policeman and playboy men, but the funniest thing in Brazil has to be the mental people. I am not talking about the normal people who are slightly crazy; I am talking about the crazy people who are actually crazy. Brazil has the biggest drugs and alcohol problem I have ever seen, and not only that, but they have no visible or apparent help for people to get clean. Brazil also has more mentally ill people than I have ever seen, but they have no hospitals for these people to go to, so instead they live homeless on the street. Some of them do have homes and function a little normally, but some are just too crazy. Seeing people singing, screaming, talking to themselves or their invisible friend on the bus or the train is quite normal here, but the funniest thing I have ever seen was this man who stood on a roundabout in the middle of a very busy road shouting 'cockatoodledoo" like he was a rooster, at the top of his voice for over 4 hours at 6pm at night without even pausing for breath! There were people driving past, people walking past, police all around, but not one person even took a second look because here in Brazil behavior like that is completely normal to see!!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Brazil?
- Learn the language (you do not stand a chance without it)
- Forget every preconceived idea you have because Brazil will not be what you think or imagine it to be like.
- Save a lot of money (Brazil is the most expensive place I have ever been to in my life)
How is the expat community in Brazil? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I have really struggled here and still do not have any real friends. I have lived in a lot of cities around Brazil and can count the number of British people I have met on one hand. I have met a few Aussies and Americas but in my experience most of them do not really want to make friends, they want to be with their boyfriends or husbands all day every day and if they are single they just want to drink all hours of the day and find a husband or a boyfriend. Life here is hard but making friends is harder or maybe it is just me, because I am shy and don´t drink or party much!
How would you summarize your expat life in Brazil in a single, catchy sentence?
Brazil is a country full of opposites - rich v poverty stricken; fake v real; normal v crazy; beautiful v ugly and; corrupt v too good; nice v evil there is no in-between, in Brazil middle ground does not exist but at the same time it amazing. There is so much to do and see. So much to experience. So much to be in awe of. The beauty of Brazil is in the people and in the beaches. Life is difficult here but life is amazing too.