porto alegre, brazil - anonymous' thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 01/02/14.


How much time have you spent in Brazil?

In total probably around 8 months, but not all at once. The longest stint was probably 6 months.

How old were you when you came to Brazil? Where were you before?

I was 21. Before that US.

What brought you to Brazil? What made you choose Brazil over any other place you could've gone?

I used to practice Brazilian Jiujitsu, so I kinda liked Brasil. My school had a study abroad there that was cheap so I went for it.

Describe the city you lived in in Brazil and your impressions of it.

The first city I went to and where I spent most of my time was Porto Alegre. Coming from a small city in a rural state it was an eye opener. I remember being impressed because I thought it would be less developed but it was pretty modern. Very lively.

How does the city you lived in compare to other cities in Brazil?

It is more European and much wealthier than lots of Brazil. Having been to Europe later in life I can a lot of similarities with it. Much whiter than average, and more educated. Porto Alegre is the Brazilian equivalent to San Francisco, Boston, or Seattle. That is where the trip went so I didn’t have much choice in picking the city. It is worth going to, but there is no beach. It isn’t the stereotypical carnival and beach Brazil people think of. In fact in Porto Alegre most people I met hated Carnival.

What are the people of Brazil like? In what ways are they different than people in other places you've lived?

Brazilians are very friendly and outgoing. They are much more open than other countries I have been to, including the US. Family is very important.

Was making friends and meeting people in Brazil in general easy or difficult?

Very easy, especially for an American. You can meet people and make friends anywhere. Social life is similar to the US, except there is more emphasis on family and doing events and spending time with family.

How did your race, nationality, gender, accent, etc. affect how you are treated or how people react to meeting you in Brazil?

I am a white male and Brazil like the rest of Latin America treats white people better than Darker skinned people. It isn’t fair and is a carryover from the days where white skin tone was associated with the ruling class. Whites also tend to be richer in Brazil. This is not unique to Brazil, but is pretty universal. Anyway, white people will be treated better.

How did the language barrier affect you (if it all)?

I can speak pretty good Portuguese now but at the time I couldn’t. It stopped a lot of interaction with people. Lots of Brazilians wanted to talk to me, but few could.

Any social/cultural advice for others who might come to Brazil?

First learn Portuguese, or as much as you can. Be open and friendly. Realize that Brazilians like to joke around so don’t get offended easily. They can also be flakey.

Did your money go further or not as far as it does in other countries and cities?

Money goes a little further than the US, but Brazil is pretty expensive.

What things are more expensive than you are used to and what things are cheaper?

Labor, and service, is cheaper. You can get someone to perform manual work for a fraction of what it cost in the US. Food and drink can be cheap too, but that is very variable. Goods are more expensive, especially clothing and electronics.

How much is an average rent for an apartment? A beer at a bar? A meal at a restaurant?

Too variable. Depends on the city. You could get a place for a few hundred in some places and pay NYC type rent in others. A beer is probably less than $5 at most places. A cheap beer is probably $1-3. Depends on the type of food. Id say on average probably around $10 but it depends again on the quality and type of food.

Do you have any stories to share about dating, relationships, gender norms, or sex in Brazil? Or any impressions of how these things are different in Brazil than in other places you've been?

I was married to a Brazilian. Women are more feminine than in the US. Not all of them, but in general they play more into old fashioned stereotypes of women. Kissing occurs very fast. If you are with someone for more than 10 minutes and haven’t made out with them you are doing badly. I wouldn’t say they are easier than the US.

What are your favorite things about Brazil? Least favorite?

There is a lot of inequality and poverty. It is sad to see. In the bathrooms you put toilet paper in a trash can instead of flushing it.

What things about Brazil surprised you?

Just how nice the people are and how high the standard of living is for many people.

What do you miss while living in Brazil (could be something tangible or a cultural/social phenomena)?

I miss the beach and good weather right now as it is winter.

Would you recommend Brazil as a place to live, travel to, or neither?

Yes, to both.

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