Brazil Lifestyle

10 things I did not know about Brazil before I moved to São Paulo

November 24, 2016

Caipirinha, Sunshine, Samba… these are all words that come to mind, when thinking about Brazil. There are a few things, however, you won’t know about Brazil until you actually live here. Here is my list of 10 things you only find out after having lived in the country for a few months – positive and negative.

#1: Brazilians are really friendly

From the first week on I realized how friendly Brazilians are. They smile, they speak with you and they try to help you. It is easy to get in contact with them. Having nice people around you sets off good vibes and leaves everyone feeling great. For me, Brazil has a much friendlier vibe than back in Switzerland.

#2: Brazil can get cold during winter

Most people think Brazil is hot all year round. But that’s wrong, temperatures can get low during winter. With no central heating or double-glazing, I’ve found it to be quite cold. Luckily it was just for a few days. Sao Paulo is located in the South, so that temperatures in the winter season (June – September) are distinctly different to the remaining months during the year.

#3: Brazil’s beautiful beaches

Brazil has worldwide renowned beaches. Many of them are stunning with white sand and turquoise water. What I love about Brazil is that most of the beaches are very natural and secluded with either no direct accommodation options next to the beach or just Pousadas (Brazilian Bed and Breakfasts). This gives Brazil its great flair.

#4: English is not widely spoken

I was actually told before moving to Brazil that not many Brazilians speak English and how important it is to learn Portuguese (I am totally in line with that, if you move to a foreign country you should learn the language!). But I was still somewhat surprised how few people speak English, even people working at a reception of a hotel or bed and breakfast.

#5: Brazil’s amazing food

The food in Brazil is a dream. The variety of fruits, vegetables, fresh seafood and so forth (the list is long) is just amazing and quality wise top. I’ve been into healthy and organic food for a while and was a bit worried when I moved to Brazil whether this country would offer these healthy options and got positively surprised. I would say that Paul and I even cook and eat healthier in Brazil than we did before.

#6: Brazil is a very bureaucratic country

I thought that Germany and Switzerland are bureaucratic countries. But once you have moved to Brazil you know what a real bureaucratic country is! You can’t imagine how much time we spent at the offices to get registered, to receive a Brazilian identity card, drivers license etc. The amount of documents we had to submit was incredible. It is a real labyrinth and I suggest planning for lots of time upfront to deal with the documents so that you don’t get any surprises.

#7: Brazilian creativity

Brazilians are so creative and have an eye for making things look very nice and cosy. This is something I love about Brazil: Brazilians create a warm atmosphere! There are many examples: in restaurants they integrate nature, walls they fill with colourful graffiti art etc.

#8: A lot of Brazilians wear sport clothes on a Sunday

The most popular and widely spread sport in Brazil is, undoubtedly, football. But not only this: spending a Sunday in the park, everyone wears sports cloth and at least looks like exercising. Wearing a dress or skirt walking through the park already makes you stand out. So sports are a very important part of the Brazilian culture.

#9: Brazil is a huge country with diversity

Brazil is the largest country in South America and 24 times bigger than Germany! The Brazilian culture is one of the world’s most varied and diverse. This is due to its being a melting pot of nationalities, as a result of centuries of European domination as well as slavery, which brought many African migrants across Brazil’s borders to live in and influence the local cultures with their ancient customs and ideas. Brazil got nine major dialectal regions. Each region has a regional cuisine of its own. Having been to the northern part of Brazil as well as to the South shows the differences. While the south of Brazil received large numbers of European immigrants during the 19th century; the north part has more indigenous influence.

#10 Brazilians body language & gestures

Brazilians do not talk without using their hands. When living in Brazil there’s not only the issue of learning the language of Portuguese, there’s also the need of understanding the body language. I really like this video, which explains the most used Brazilian gestures:

Have you moved to Brazil and found anything you weren’t expecting? Let me know, I am interested to hear about that!

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