Everytime I think about this, my heart races. I’ve dreamed about living in a place I didn’t know for so long and now it is finally going to happen. From June 22 until August 10 I will be living in São Paulo by myself. The last two weeks my husband will join me and we will visit Rio for a few days as well.
So, even though I have never been, I did quite some research about São Paulo and Brazil in general. I’ve made some friends over the years and noticed some big differences between the Brazilian culture and whatever culture I am used to (roughly Western, I guess). My goal is to just live in Brazil, and dive into the Brazilian lifestyle head-first to experience it to the fullest. On paper I understand the differences, but I simply can’t know what it is actually going to be like. I thought it would be fun to write down my assumptions about what it will be like, to be able to look back on it after and see what I got right and what I was off about.
Please know these are all generalizations and based on information I have found in videos, blogs and from other people’s experiences. Don’t come for me.
My patience will be put to the test
I am used to being on time. I am used to things just happening on time. Generally when people here say a party will start at 8, it starts at 8. People will arrive even a bit early for it. In Brazil this is much different. If a party starts at 8 and you show up at 8, they will look at you strangely. I am not sure how I would handle this, but probably show up 30 to 60 minutes late? I hope this is not the same when you’re meeting people for lunch or something, because that is going to be rough on me. I can’t stand when people are late.
I know that public transportation in Brazil is an adventure. Subway trains will come when they come. There’s no real time table. And if there is, you shouldn’t waste your time on looking at it. São Paulo has a good subway system, but the trains don’t come when it says so on paper. Over here that’s much different. Generally when it says the train leaves at 12:35, it will leave at 12:35 and not a minute later. I think my patience will be put to the test in São Paulo.
There will be lots of hugs
Something I love about Brazilians is how affectionate they are. When you meet someone for the first time, there’s always a hug involved and often a kiss (on the cheek). Here, depending on the country, it’s a handshake or when you know each other a bit better 2 or 3 kisses on the cheek. Very rarely do you get a hug each and every time you see each other, or when you say bye. Brazilians are also fond of generally touching someone when they are talking. It may come across as flirting to Western people, but it’s just part of their culture as a way of saying “I think you’re cool,” in the most friendly way. I am actually looking forward to this because I am the same way and I naturally like to touch people when I talk to them (if I like them).
I will make lots of friends
Brazilians are extremely hospitable and open. They are known to want to talk to other people, especially when you’re not from there. I expect to meet many people and be invited to do things. I will follow a language course and I will partake in some city tours and I think it will be easy to meet people and make friends. I am writing this down quite hesitantly, because I do think to myself sometimes, what if I don’t meet anybody? But knowing myself, and knowing the Brazilians I’ve met in the past, that is not going to happen.
Lots and lots of new food
This is not an assumption, but I am pretty sure of it… São Paulo is a melting pot of many different cultures. I think I will enjoy that but I will mostly want to try Brazilian or São Paulo foods like feijoada, coixinha, brigadeiros, pastel, pão de queijo… Because there’s many different cultures, it would be easy to find things I am already familiar with like Chinese, Japenese, Italian, but my goal is to eat as few familiar things as possible and dive straight into the world of Brazilian cuisine.