Megan: Born Again Brazilian
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Sao Paulo, etc.
I came to Sao Paulo with my husband and daughter from New York City after my Brazilian husband was offered a position with his company here. Prior to our move, I worked with a financial firm in NYC, but had left about a year earlier to stay at home with my daughter, who was a little over one year old at the time. I’m originally from Chicago.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging before we even left the United States. Having Brazilian in-laws and having traveled to Brazil a number of times prior, I knew there would be a lot of fun (and sometimes not so fun) information and experiences to share.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Aside from the ones involving food, the ones that really get into cultural differences – like the children’s birthday parties and some social behavior.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Sao Paulo differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I thought I would have adjusted much easier since I had already been exposed to the culture. But it was difficult in the beginning. Getting things done here is a bit more complicated, both because I’m not as familiar with the language and because Brazilians tend to be more passive aggressive.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brazil? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No. My experiences were mostly in Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding paradises. Sao Paulo is a totally different place. I would really have focused on advancing my Portuguese when I first arrived.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Yes, so very many. For me, it is the number of really creepy Brazilian baby dolls I’ve come across. I put out a series of posts about it. It’s become something of an obsession.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Sao Paulo?
- Embrace the culture. Spending some time immersing yourself in the culture will help you better understand and embrace your foreign surroundings. From Brazilian cuisine to museums and art, there are plenty of opportunities in Sao Paulo to take it all in.
- Learn some language. Even a few initial phrases will make you feel a bit more secure and confident in the city. In addition to language guides and phrase books, there are plenty of options for schools and private instructors. Or you can watch your favorite movies on the Brazilian Netflix with the language option set to Portuguese and English subtitles (or vice versa).
- See the sights. Sao Paulo is a huge city with plenty to enjoy, no matter what your interest is. The government-sponsored museums, such as the Museu do AfroBrasil and the Museu da Lingua Portuguese, provide amazing opportunities to learn about Brazil and take in some art and architecture. There are also plenty of park options, like Parque Ibiropuera and Parque Povo, where you can rent/ride a bike, talk a walk, fly a kite or just enjoy the outdoors. If you want to experience the country’s favorite sport, go to a futebol game at the Estado Municipal, which also is home to the Museu do Futebol. Take advantage of the metropolitan options and explore.
How is the expat community in Sao Paulo? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community in Sao Paulo is wonderful. The International Newcomers Club of Sao Paulo always has a number of events every month which allows a person new to Sao Paulo to meet people and have a social life. The American and Canadian Societies are also very active. I would highly recommend looking into these organizations upon arrival. The INC is also great for tips about all sorts of things you’ll need in your new life.
How would you summarize your expat life in Sao Paulo in a single, catchy sentence?
An American Ex-brat trying to survive South American’s largest city by acknowledging and appreciating both the bizarre and wondrous.