Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Rio de Janeiro:
I was working in publishing here and had always been involved in the life of the city of Rio de Janeiro. When good things began to happen here, after decades of violence and hardship, I became concerned that the turnaround might not last. I invented the blog as a way to inform people about what is happening and to bring a critical and constructive view of urban events to my readers, both in English and Portuguese. It’s so important to know what’s going on.
I wasn’t prepared at all. I didn’t speak a word of the language, and in 2003 not many people spoke mine (or were not in the practice of doing so while in Brazil). Before my second stint in Rio I bought some Portuguese books and decided I would not be lost. If I could change anything I would have done that the first time around. I have always felt that you should ideally speak the language of the country you are in, though I had no idea how left out you could feel if you didn’t.
I had taken a Portuguese course about a month before I moved down thinking that I just needed a few words to get by and then could learn more once I got there. Now looking back, if I could do it again, I would have been taking intense Portuguese courses for months instead of doing them once I got down here.
Life in Rio is pretty much opposite from my previous lifestyle of working in the financial industry in New York City. First, its natural beauty forces you to get out of the house and really take work/life balance aspect seriously. Second, Brazil is not America. Things are not as straight forward, easy, or well organized. This is, however, a challenge one has to embrace with a smile and not let it get in the way of enjoying him or herself.
Due to my experiences of living abroad as a kid I think I was more prepared than most people. My parents also gave me good tips about living in Brazil even though it had been a quarter of a century since they were here. One thing that did catch me out, as with a lot of people, was the high cost of living. Apart from doing a bit more research about that I don’t think I would’ve changed anything.
My 5-year-long expatriation in Rio de Janeiro has been one of hatred and love towards this city from which I have wanted to leave many times, however, it has probably been the most personally enriching experience abroad.