Last August I took the biggest step in my life so far: moving to Brazil for three months. To be more specific, I was about to live in the biggest city in Latin-America! When coming from a small city in that small country called the Netherlands, this is (literally) a world of difference…
On the 16th of August I waved my family goodbye at the airport. And about 12 hours later (and basically only seeing that huge, stretched out ocean) I arrived in São Paulo. My adventure was about to begin!
Anyway, instead of giving you an extensive review of my time there, I’ll highlight my five most noteworthy experiences:
“Oi, tudo bem?”
Better start practicing your Portuguese on time, because it’s definitely no unnecessary luxury! Coming from an European country you expect about every young adult to have some knowledge of the English language. Sadly enough, the reality is far from this in Brazil. However, Brazilians are very patient and try to help in any way, when you’re trying to make yourself understood. All I can say: boa sorte…
Immediately I experienced the overwhelming, never-ending hospitality of the Brazilian culture. For example, even though the traffic in São Paulo is like nowhere else, they don’t even think twice about bringing you home – even when they have to drive around an hour for you. Yet, the best part of their hospitality is letting everyone feel welcome. No matter when you arrive (since Brazilians like to arrive a few hours late) or whether it suits or not, they will always make sure you have a place at the table. “The more the merrier” is taken very literally in Brazil. Something Dutch people, including myself, could take a lesson from!
Uber is inevitable
Almost ashamed to admit it: a company that’s been world-famous and incredibly popular for years, yet, I only lost my uber-virginity when I arrived in Brazil. This convenient, cheap and safe way of transportation is widely used by Brazilians as well as tourists. With so many drivers, there’s always one nearby who’ll do everything to make your trip as comfortable as possible and only costs a few reais. However, be cautious when taking the UberPool, as you might end up in one of the most dangerous favela’s in Rio (however, I’m still here to retell the story;)).
Even though we like to say we can take care of ourselves – strong independent women as we are – it was refreshing to be among gentlemen (not to be confused with smooth talkers). It’s not just making sure you get home safe, holding doors or carrying heavy suitcases, it goes way further: in my 22 years of living on this world, no stranger ever stepped aside to let me get into the bus first. I didn’t know what was happening – but got used to it quickly, haha..
Food (and caipirinha’s) heaven
As a meat-lover it’s no punishment to eat in South-America. As in many countries on
the continent, BBQ is a big thing. Be sure to taste the picanha as well as the queijo coalho during your visit! However, it’s not just food heaven for meat lovers: with the biggest Japanese population outside Japan being situated in Brazil, there are some great sushi restaurants. They even say it’s the best place to get sushi outside of Japan! Something else worth mentioning are the yummy caipirinha’s – the Brazilian cocktail made from cachaça. Although available in all possible fruity flavors you can imagine, the traditional caipirinha is made with limes (and is in my opinion the best!)