Poly: Disseram Que Eu Voltei Americanizada
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Sao Paulo, etc.
My name’s Polyana, I’m from Minas Gerais, a state in southeastern Brazil (with, modesty aside, probably the country’s best cuisine + definitely best cachaça!), but I grew up in the US after my parents emigrated there in the late 80’s. I decided to move back to Brazil after completing university and doing a short stint at a think tank that dealt with Latin American affairs. In 2008, I moved to São Paulo, Brazil’s land of opportunity, and have been here ever since!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
When I moved to Brazil, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone individually, so I decided to start a blog to keep my friends and family back home updated with my ongoings. It ended up evolving into a blog that talked about moving to Brazil, immigration law in the US, São Paulo tips and tricks, and more recently, being an entrepreneur in Brazil!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
A few of my most read + favorite blog entries are:
Green Card: Approved and in Hands (I think I cried writing this entire post)
Avocado Toast Recipe (I’ve recently been starting to post fun and quick recipes!)
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?
For me, the culture wasn’t too much of a shock, despite growing up in small town Connecticut. Because small town CT also meant a big Brazilian community, believe it or not. Not even the bureaucracy was an issue for me, because I was, after all, an immigrant in the US – we’re used to that kind of stuff.
The biggest difference was living in such a HUGE city with so many options, and so many different people you meet everyday. It was a little overwhelming at first, but now I love it!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Sao Paulo? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think I was. Fortunately, I knew the language. I think that’s the biggest problem today for expats – communicating effectively. It makes for a lot of frustrating moments if you don’t.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I think I know more other expat stories than my own that are funny (almost everyone orders ‘pau’ instead of ‘pão’ when they first get here!). I guess for me, it was difficult at first to pronounce foreign words “in Portuguese” and some Portuguese words. I recall when I started working at an ad agency, and my client was Volkswagen. Learning to say “Vouquesvagem” was SO HARD. So I would just say “Volks” when I went to meetings with the client. Anhangabaú was another doozy…
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Sao Paulo?
- First, come with an open mind. It’s not a horrid concrete jungle just because there’s no beautiful scenery like other Brazilian cities. And it’s also not as dangerous as a lot of people make it sound. The negativity some people bring with them (esp. expats who are ‘forced’ to live here) puts a damper on their experiences.
- I would also say to explore the city and get to know locals on an intimate level. Expats tend to stick together, which is great, but you end up missing out on a lot if you don’t mingle with the locals!
- Read my post on what to bring/buy
How is the expat community in Sao Paulo? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I think it’s super easy to make expat friends here. There’s always a friend, friend of a friend, blogger, coworker or someone who’s willing to offer a hand and hang out!
How would you summarize your expat life in Sao Paulo in a single, catchy sentence?
Much like the city, a beautiful mess!