Cipriana: Brazil Phenomenon
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Brazil, etc.
My name is Cipriana and I am 40 years old. I have been a translator and teacher for more than 25 years, but I am currently undergoing a drastic career change. I was born in Buenos Aires Argentina, raised in London England and have been living in Brazil for 20 years on and off, initially alternating with Buenos Aires, where my son was born. I also lived in Spain for 2 years. I first came to Brazil when my parents moved back to Latin America in 1990.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging in 2009 when I had a very frustrating experience at a coffee shop. I was appalled at the bad customer service so I needed to vent my frustrations. After that, I continued blogging about other experiences, including money issues for foreigners.
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?
Life in London is totally different to life in São Paulo, where I initially lived. I had to learn the language, my first major barrier. I studied at a language school for 3 months and had a great teacher. Once I learned the language the rest was easy. I am “morena” so most Brazilians think I am Brazilian until I speak (I haven´t quite shaken the accent) so people approached me almost constantly. I am very adaptable and the only culture shock was the food. The circumstances I was forced to adapt to (and the most painful) were bureaucracy, customer service, cost of living (Brazil is very expensive), classism and quality.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brazil? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
When I came to Brazil I had no idea what it would be like so I was very open to everything. I was also very young (just turned 16) so it was like an adventure. I don´t think it´s a good idea to prepare as Brazil is never what you expect so no, I was not fully prepared but I would not change anything. I am glad I was open to the new experience and consequently adapted fairly quickly.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
To be honest, although I love Brazil and people here can be very funny I cannot think of a single hilarious anecdote. Most of my anecdotes are related to frustrations or amazement at someone´s actions, the beauty of a location, etc. The funny stories are not related to being in Brazil, just everyday life. Maybe the funniest, although not for the speaker, was when someone asked me how far London was by bus.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Brazil?
- Clear your mind of all misconceptions, preconception, fantasies or expectations.
- Step off that plane with a clear mind and just take in the experiences as they occur.
- Keep in mind that your life here will be totally different to anything you have experienced before and that you must travel across the entire country before you actually get to know Brazil. If you do not like the South, you might love the North, for example.
How is the expat community in Brazil? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are large communities in the major cities in Brazil. They have get-togethers and sometimes frequent the same places. I personally prefer a one-to-one type of friendship and made great, longtime friends that I met teaching or working. All of them are foreigners/expats.
How would you summarize your expat life in Brazil in a single, catchy sentence?
A rollercoaster ride with lots of frustrations, joy and wonder, and a deep, wholehearted sense of belonging. Brazil is ALWAYS intense.