Brazil has been getting a lot of attention recently. With that attention has come a new wave of foreigners interested in diving deeper into the culture to learn what Brazil has to offer.
If you’re like most people who’ve never been to Brazil, you’ve heard a lot of stereotypes, exaggerations and mischaracterizations about the country. Not all Brazilians know how to play soccer, scantily clad women with big butts don’t just start randomly dancing Samba in the streets, and despite Brazil being statistically one of the most dangerous countries on earth you can actually live here without worrying about getting killed all the time.
The stories that are frequently told about Brazil don’t do it justice, and if you carry this narrow perspective then you’re going to miss out on all of the beautiful things that this country has to offer the world.
Brazilian Gringo was born out of a need to share a more realistic perspective about Brazil, and our mission here is to share language and cultural insights to make Brazil more accessible for people to live, work and do business.
There is something special about Brazil
Brazil is unlike any other place on earth.
What makes Brazil so unique is simple: Brazilians.
Brazilians have a unique way of being that isn’t easily understood by foreigners who come from outside of South America. They operate on a completely different frequency than the rest of the world. Their energy leaves a big impression on you when you feel it for the first time.
If you’ve ever talked with Brazilians you know what I mean. They approach human interactions with an abundance of curiosity and attention. It feels more like a conversation between two souls than between two people.
It’s would take years to list out all of the little things that make interactions with Brazilians such a treat. At the end of the day, they’re just really cool people to be around.
Americans have a different approach to their interactions, and are more likely to find out what someone can do before they find out who they are. For Brazilians the opposite is true. If you’re used to experiencing one mode of interactions, try out the other for a while and see how it feels for you.
Go spend some time in Brazil and you’ll get a taste of a different way of life. But be warned, once you go to Brazil you may never leave.
Brazil isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though
There are tradeoffs that come with living in Brazil though.
While most Brazilians are wonderful people, there are some Brazilians who are committed to making life hell for themselves and their fellow countrymen.
This malevolent group of people are responsible for creating a horde of problems that plague everyday life in Brazil:
- Poor infrastructure
- High living costs
Some of these problems have immediate solutions. Others have workarounds known as jeitinhos that require you to bend the rules in order to find a solution. Other problems have no easy solution, and the only thing you can do is wait patiently for a few decades until the problem has been fixed. Either you adapt to the way things are or you should go somewhere else.
Complaining about how difficult or unfair the situation is won’t help make things better, and only serves to help those who want to see Brazil burn. Nobody will blame you if you decide to go back home after a few months. Thousands of people have come to Brazil, optimistic about a bright future, only to later have their dreams crushed by the harsh realities of life in Brazil.
How to Live in Brazil
Given all of the challenges that Brazil presents, how are you supposed to have a normal life here? Expecting that people and systems should operate the same way that they do somewhere else in the world will only cause you frustration.
The only thing left for you to do then is to adapt.
As the old saying goes: When in Brazil, do as the Brazilians do.
The way to enjoy greater success in Brazil is to go through a transformative process whereby you toss your old ways aside and step into your Brazilian skin. When you choose to go through this process you’ll stop being a gringo and you’ll become a Brazilian Gringo.
The word gringo carries a different weight when used by the rest of South America. In Brazil it’s used to describe all foreigners, even if you’re from Argentina.
How to Become a Brazilian Gringo
1. Immerse Yourself in Brazilian Culture
Before you come to Brazil start taking steps to connect with Brazil. The more you prepare before you arrive, the better the experience you’ll have.
Listen to Brazilian music, watch Brazilian movies, cook Brazilian recipes, read books about Brazil. Make friends with Brazilians online and locally so that you can learn straight from the source.
Language and culture are intrinsically connected. If you want to be successful with your Portuguese studies you’ll have to learn about the culture as well. Learning about Brazilian culture before you travel will also make it easier for you to adapt once you arrive.
2. Learn Brazilian Portuguese
Speaking Portuguese gives you greater freedom, allows you to understand things that regular gringos won’t ever understand, and allows you to build deeper connections with your Brazilian friends.
The only way to have a normal life in Brazil is to be able to speak the local language. If you don’t speak Portuguese you’re going to feel like an outsider and you’ll miss out on the best of what Brazil has to offer.
Learning a foreign language can seem challenging for many people, but with the right mindset and motivation it can be made a lot easier.
3. Move to Brazil
Your friends won’t understand your decision, your mom might cry for fear of your safety and even Brazilians will call you crazy for wanting to move to Brazil. You might even be doubting to yourself if moving to Brazil is the right thing to do.
Saying goodbye to the comfortable life you know in exchange for an unknown path in South America isn’t an easy choice to make. Nobody will blame you if you decide to stick around home where it’s safe.
Once you step on that plane though, your life will never be the same again.
4. Make good use of your time
Everybody goes to Brazil for different reasons. Some work, some study, some play and some do all three.
Whether you’re moving to Brazil to study abroad, work in a new job, teach English, train Jiu Jitsu or convert Indians to your religion, just don’t forget why you’re going to Brazil.
There are many distractions and obstacles that are unique to Brazil that will try to prevent you from completing your mission. Cultural factors as well as infrastructure problems will slow you down. You’re guaranteed to get at least 20% less done just because you’re in Brazil.
Don’t try to fight this. Accept it and make good use of the time you have.
5. Teach what you’ve learned
By going through the process of becoming a Brazilian Gringo you will learn new things about the world, about people, about Brazil and about yourself.
The final step of being a Brazilian Gringo is to go back and teach others what you’ve learned on your journey. The best way to learn something is to teach it. Even if you’re not a teacher by profession there are still valuable ways you can share your experience with the world.
Maybe you’ll become a professional teacher. Maybe you’ll start a blog to share your experiences and encourage others to become Brazilian Gringos. Maybe you’ll start a business. Or maybe you go back home one day a different person and teach people the Brazilian Gringo way through your new way of being.