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    « 2009 Rio Expat Survey Results: How Have You Changed? | Main | Itaipava Weekend »

    February 16, 2010


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    Wow, there's in one the middle that's quite an essay! I loved it, it was the one I related to the most, very accurate. The part about being hard to dress up because you never know where you'll end up in (Cariocas aren't big fans of planning things in advance), of people being very comfortable with their bodies but at the same time being extremely worried with their appearances, calling each other "amor", etc. The only thing I couldn't relate to was the part about solicitors, but now that I think about it, there ARE plenty of people that are quite patient with them (just not me).

    Anyway, interesting post :)

    pedro lúcio

    Can I add another thing to this survey? Actually I am brazilian and I don't live in Rio, but few time ago it was made a survey in 50 cities in many countries and the city of Rio de Janeiro was considered the most supportive one. Nice to know. Your blog is really good, and I think you get those messages saying you are wrong because brazilians are that type of people that say bad things about the country, but be mad listening/reading people from other countries (specially from Argentina) saying the same things. Curious, but comprehensible. ;)


    I have two comments on this topic lol

    "They are quick to criticize anything about their own or other countries ( and are a very passive people and don't seem to protest), but get extremely defensive if you insult theirs."
    This is so true, and this fit well to all Brazilians, not only cariocas. However, I think we don't critize others countries too much, expect Argentina lol or maybe when we are defending our country... It's funny because I realized how patriotic Brazilians are only when I moved out to another country.
    I wish Brazilians were more like Argentinians about protest and so on, we are way too much passive, that's why things there take so long to change.


    "Interesting thing...I have met a great many Brasilians/Cariocas over the past 7 years (since my husband is Carioca and lived here his whole life) and one of the LAST things they want to discuss is what they do for a living or what you do for a living. I have no idea what a lot of relatives here and friends of friends do, simply because it is not talked about very much. People like to talk about anything...except work it seems. Work doesn't define "you"."

    Funny! I just wrote abou this on a previous post lol I hate this "qhat do you do for a living" behaviour in North America. I really do not see the point.. Sometimes I get so sick of it that my answer is "I do nothing", and sometimes people insist asking how come lol arghhh

    Account Deleted

    I have a story to share about the warmth of Cariocas and how you never know how things will end up. My son's Birthday is right after Christmas, a time when school is out for summer vacation and a lot of families travel, not the best time for a party. My housekeeper, who is a doll, said to me on the eve on my son's 3rd Birthday, "come to my apartment, there are lots of kids there, we can do a cake, blow up some balloons and sing "Parabens"...great I thought! So I brought the cake,juice,and balloons along with my son, my Brasilian inlaws and a primo to her place. It turned into a 4 hour long HUGE kids (and adults) party and the Porteiro (doorman)and his wife started bringing out endless beer and food, from their refridgerator, probably R$100 worth, to share, just to make the party better. Embarrassed, I (discreetly) insisted he take some money (since, afterall, he is a doorman I bearly know who makes very little money and had no obligation to share his food and beer with our little party) but he flat-out refused. I tried to give it to my housekeeper as well (so she could give it to him later on), and she wouldn't think of it?! I was without words, it was such an unexpected show of warmth and generosity. I felt happy but guilty at the same time. I tried again another day to discreetly give money but it was not welcomed. Later, my housekeeper and my husband tried to explain to me that people just enjoy parties, a reason to celebrate and be with each other, to enjoy a spontaneous day of friends, food and drink, and lots of very happy kids. I'll never forget it.


    "Brazilians tell me all the time that they are the friendliest people in the world, but the numbers suggest otherwise! Nearly 50% of people surveyed have been befriended by less than five Brazilians. 5% have not made any Brazilian friends at all."

    Maybe the problem is with the expats.

    Daily Rio Life

    Certainly this is a thought that has crossed my mind. In some cases, people make little or no effort to mix with the locals and learn the language, so those ones are obvious! In my case, given that I am a very outgoing person who has managed to make friends from a number of countries around the world since moving here (and before moving here as well), I still marvel at how few Brazilian friends I have after almost TWO YEARS here. Granted, there are a number of reasons for this besides not having been welcomed much by Brazilians, such as the language barrier (although I do get by with my Portuguese, it certainly could be better!) distractions with having a number of visitors (months worth!), traveling, having a baby, and having other expat friends. I realize there are ways that I could have put myself out there more, certainly. But what is not encouraging is that when I do meet and connect with Brazilians, it doesnt really seem to go anywhere. I have been told (by Cariocas) that it is because they are all so intimidated by foreigners, but I think this is ridiculous.

    You seem to have an opinion on this - what are the expats doing wrong? :)


    I thought about it and I didn't get any exact answer. I think the expatriates tend to make contact with other expatriates because they have basically similar life stories, talking about something in common creates a bond between people. If the cultures of immigrants are similar (Canadian and American, Swedish and Norwegian etc) this bond tends to be greater than between Swedish and Brazilians, for example. For foreigners in Brazil, the biggest chance of making friends are at work, which is not always the best environment, since there is some "competition" between people. It is a fact that most Brazilians feel intimidated by foreign (that is my case), at least initially, it is difficult to know what and how to talk if both don't have fluency in the language. Furthermore people that have always lived in Rio, or any other city, already have formed their social circle: family, school/children friends, people with whom you lived for years. So if you are an expatriate you will easily create friendships with people with the same culture/language and that does not have a closed social circle.


    I think Luca hit the making friends problem on the head - most Carioca and I would venture Brazilians have already formed their social circles, many by high school and the rest definitely by college. My close Brazilian friends were made with Brazilians that were either interested or not intimidated by befriending a foreigner or with people when they were in some moment of transition (moving to a new city, having a baby) and were breaking out of their current social circle. This was much different from my experience in the US where most people are uprooted and open to new friends all the time.


    As a Brazilian (carioca) who lives in another country I understand most of the feelings described in this post. Language is a barrier, but not the only one. It might take a while to get used to the way people behave socially and be able to really feel part of it. This has been my main concern here in Germany. Sometimes I also have the feeling that my worries about how to behave in a totally different society has created a bigger gap, which I have been trying to deal with. So, I guess we need time. I't too much to learn and you can't really speed up this process. But I do think (and it's not because I'm Brazilian)that it is much easier to socialize in Brazil than in Germany, for example. I'm not saying it's easy to make friends in Brazil, because friendship might take a while, but the atmosphere is more relaxing and people are more open.

    Wrenaissance Art

    "Easy to meet, but hard to know." I think this is said by nearly all people living in a new culture of their new local neighbors! All the commenters have made some very good points.

    After 3 years here in Rio, I find the friends I have are Brazilian. There are 2 keys, I think:

    1. Keep working on your Portuguese! Most corporate expats will be socializing with college-educated professionals who may very well have studied or worked abroad and not only are tolerant of your grammatical mistakes, but understand what it's like to be stumbling in a new language and culture.

    2. Pursue the things you are passionate about. Passionate and not just enjoy occasionally! Whether it's painting, playing music, surfing, etc., you'll find it much easier to form a bond with people who love the same activity that you do, whether they're Brazilian or expat.

    supra skytop

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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