Jennie: Living in Brazil
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Brazil, etc.
My name is Jennifer, I am from Seattle, WA, USA. I am married to an American-Brazilian. This is our second stay in Brazil. The first was 1997-2000. We arrived for a second time this July. My husband has worked here and in the States. The opportunities in Brazil at the moment are really good, and we wanted our kids to learn Portuguese, so we decided to come back for a while.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Before I left the States, I knew that I wanted to stay in touch with family and friends, and I thought that a blog would be an efficient and fun way to do that.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
This one gives a good look at the kinds of experiences we are having, and the fun we are finding along the way. National park of Itatiaia
Tell us about the ways your new life in Brazil differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Since this is my second time living in Brazil, and I do have my husband’s family here, I think I had already gotten over the shock last time. I was extraordinarily nervous last time, and unable to really enjoy all the differences. This time I am interested, excited, and prepared as to how things work here. I am still having moments when I can’t believe I am here and long for home, but those moments are few and far between.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brazil? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
If we had had the time, it would have been great to make an earlier trip to check out houses and apartments beforehand. Living in a hotel in Resende is super-stressful.
I knew pretty much what I was getting into…I had forgotten how loud people and cars are, and how dusty everything gets, how poor people can be, and how some things just don’t matter as much as we think they do.
I would have brought less luggage, less winter clothes, and more of the familiar things I like to cook with, like spices.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There are many. But the funniest one recently was when I answered the phone and my neighbor said in English, “Hello! Good Night!” I thought she was going to hang up immediately after saying good night—but she was just translating from Portuguese, when they say, “Ola, Boa Noite”—the same way we might say Good Evening—which is perfectly normal and polite.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Brazil?
- Most things are complicated beyond belief. Try to relax about it.
- Be willing to try new things!
- With hard work and a smile, you can accomplish anything!
How is the expat community in Brazil? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I think there are a lot of foreigners here. Several French families arrived at the same time, but I have not heard of Resende having an organized community of ex-pats. Maybe I should start one?
How would you summarize your expat life in Brazil in a single, catchy sentence?
Our family is a bit like the country of Brazil; we are learning, enjoying, and growing at a rapid pace!