Poor Misunderstood Eduardo Paes

“Don’t ever in your life do a World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same time,” Mr. Paes recently said at a debate here on Rio’s transformation…

This is one quote from Mayor Eduardo Paes’ interview with the NY Times. I feel Eduardo Paes’ pain. I imagine running Rio de Janeiro is a circus on its own. It wouldn’t be far fetched to imagine that adding two hugely popular international games is making it a total shit-show.

All that, along with facing an extremely displeased public, would be overwhelming for anyone.

“I’m not cut out to be a masochist, to be someone shouted down and cursed at,” he said in an interview, referring to the way some of his more vocal critics approach him on Rio’s streets. “But this process reflects democratization, the development of citizens in Brazil,” he added. “I don’t think the protests are over.”

It is great that he supports democratization. You’d really hope so seeing that Brazil is supposed to be a democratic country. Sometimes though, it doesn’t really feel like it…

Now I know Eduardo Paes doesn’t technically control the police. His buddy Sergio Cabral does. Though something tells me he is close enough to good old Sergio, close enough to say “Simmer down now Serg.”

Of course we must remember that Eduardo Paes and Sergio Cabral have a lot to talk about when they are together. There just isn’t enough time during pillow talk to discuss everything.

Regardless, we all have to admit that Rio de Janeiro is an exciting city! Eduardo Paes is obviously a fan of excitement! He is the vibrant and social mayor of a city that is bubbling over with energy. A city such as Rio de Janeiro should expect a bit of drama. It happens in all big cities, plus it keeps things interesting. Eduardo Paes is really doing us all a favor by keeping Rio de Janeiro from turning into a boring city like… off the top of my head… Zurich.

“I don’t want to compare my city to Zurich, thank God we’re not that boring,” said Mr. Paes over breakfast served by uniformed servants”

I agree, thank goodness we aren’t boring like Zurich. Clean streets, honest police, and a functional government? Good public healthcare and education?

zzzzzzzz

We may not have all those things in Rio de Janeiro, but we have something else. We have cold beers on beautiful beaches full of tiny bikinis with free public showers where we can wash off in water full of feces and Hepatitis B. Take that Switzerland.

That said, I can’t say that I would do a better job as mayor of Rio de Janeiro. I get overwhelmed running a 84 meter apartment with the population of four. Though I can say that I wouldn’t choose to throw the birthday party of the century if it meant that we couldn’t pay for schooling or healthcare.

I suppose we all have our own list of priorities. Paes seems to think that hastily built structures, that will likely end up neglected and eventually fall to despair, and temporary international attention are the key to Rio de Janeiro’s future. And I was thinking it was health, education, and quality of life. Gosh, don’t I look silly…

 

What do you think?

The REAL Problem with Brazil

Photo from: amansfieldphotograpy.wordpress.com

I get why Brazilians are annoyed with their government. I get, at least a small portion, of what is happening here and that it is very serious. People in high places are stealing money that should go to the very VERY basic needs of a large portion of the population, not to mention many other issues. Brazilians should be pissed.

That said, I think it is also time for Brazilians to take a moment and look at themselves. Any citizen battling their government on ethical grounds needs to turn around and check out their own reflection. What kind of ethical foundation do they have?

I have the perfect example of why Brazilians need to take a long look at themselves, after they take a peek at the definition of hypocrisy.

The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess. 

I imagine this line of thinking isn’t going to be super popular with my Brazilian readers. Fair enough since being called a hypocrite isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. Trust me, I’m an American. Not only do we get called a ton of names, the women of our nation are evidently known for an activity requiring mad swallowing skills . 

Anyway, I have a simple example that I hope will explain my point: Brazilian Drivers. Brazilians love to bitch about how other Brazilians drive, how driving when traveling abroad is amazing, and how no one respects driving laws in Brazil. The complaints are double when you are walking with fellow Brazilian pedestrians. People yell at cars that run red lights, that stop over crosswalks, and people who park in front of ramps or entrances just to name a few.

I totally get it, it is annoying and wrong.

But they are missing one piece of the puzzle, the Brazilian pedestrian. Brazilian pedestrians are trying to not be hit by cars… while they are attempting to jaywalk.

While any Brazilian will complain about the lack of respect for pedestrians, where are pedestrians’ respect for cars and their drivers?! You get pissed when someone almost hits you, but you really shouldn’t if you are halfway into the street when the light is green, or even yellow. 

That is how Brazilians treat their system. They get pissed that the government isn’t “certinho”, or doing things correctly, and yet they don’t hold themselves to the same standard. Brazilians are constantly looking for jeitinhos, literally translated as knack, but it basically means a loophole, that will make their lives easier.

It shows up in all parts of daily life in Brazil. It could be paying your repairman on the side because he offers to charge you less than his company, the one you originally hired. You lie to his company, say you refused their service, and save a hundred or so reais, and he makes a hundred or so reais more. 

Everyone wins right? Well, not quite everyone. The company doesn’t win. If you really think about it, people who do that may be why they have to charge so much in the first place. This is only the tip of the iceberg, seeing that this kind of mentality seeps into other things. People cheat on taxes, steal utilities, contact “friends” so they can jump the appointment line at places like the federal police, cut corners when it comes to hiring to save on taxes, and much more. 

My point is, if as a citizen you can’t enforce and follow the laws in your own community, why do they think the government can do it as a whole, especially seeing that they are attempting to do it with citizens such as yourselves?

My friend said it perfectly when mediating between Mr Rant and I. She knowingly asked what was the consistent factor in this issue. The answer: me.

Various parties have held the office of the presidency in Brazil, and we have also had a dictatorship if we are going to list governmental changes. So what has been consistent? The Brazilian people. Kind of makes you wonder if change has a better chance of happening with a group chanting in a plaza, or with each person starting at home. You tell me. 

How to Survive Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval

Photo from: www.hurriyetdailynews.com

I made Carnaval my BITCH last year… ok it may be more other way around. Regardless, fun was had by all. So to help out all the newbies, or those who have also earned Carnaval bitch status, I am going to repost my How to Survive a Rio de Janeiro Bloco Post. Please, please, please add your own tips! Surviving Carnaval is a key point to having a successful one. Don’t hesitate to spread the word, this stuff is gold.

How to Survive a Rio de Janeiro Carnaval Bloco

1. Be careful where and when you pee. Long gone are the good old days (and amazingly nasty at the same time) of peeing anywhere you can stumble to while partying at a carnaval bloco. These days you may actually end up with a ticket if spotted squatting behind a car or pissing on a tree. My tip, treat yourself like your Mother did when you were a child. Pee right before you leave home and any time you have access to a bathroom that doesn’t make you throw up in your mouth… and maybe even then. It is Carnaval after all.

2. Hydrate. Weirdly beer isn’t particularly hydrating and Rio de Janeiro is hot in the summer. Now throw your drunk ass in the middle of thousands of other people and you have yourself a potential dehydration situation. Drink a bottle of water every once in a while and a ton of it when you get home.

3. Do not get jealous. People make out with other people at blocos, a lot. If you are a couple and someone happens to grab and kiss your mate, don’t freak out. It happens. That said, if you don’t want to be made out with, limit eye contact with the opposite sex and women do not turn around if someone tugs on your hair. If you do want to make out, ignore what I just said.

4. Eat! You need your energy for days and days of dancing and drinking in the street. Don’t just grab stuff here and there. And no, 3,000 calories worth of beer does not count. Take time to stop and eat a real meal. It doesn’t matter if you are man dressed like Pretty Woman, it’s Carnaval! I’m sure there will be three other dudes at the restaurant wearing the same thing.

5. Keep in mind that the bloco doesn’t need to be a costume friendly bloco for you to wear a costume! Costumes are accepted everywhere during Carnaval and are encouraged. If you want to have success with your carnaval costume, go ridiculous. Pop culture, cross dressing and group costumes are a big hit!

6. Engov! Engov is the hangover medicine of choice down here. Take this before a particularly gnarly day of drinking and you will be able to rally for the next day. Disclaimer, I am not a doctor and am not medically responsible.

7. Wear shoes, not flip flops. Think about it. Thousands of people, a hell of a lot of beer, Rio de Janeiro streets and heat. The roads will be all kinds of nastiness. And if you insist on flip flops, please wash your feet when you get home.

8. Don’t forget your sunscreen. Getting drunk and dancing in the street is all fun and games until someone gets a nasty sunburn. At least it will make a tourist costume that much more believable.

9. Be careful with your belongings. It is easy for a phone or cash to disappear from pockets when you are crammed up next to a billion sweaty people. Be smart about what you bring and where you keep it.

10. Wear a condom. This isn’t really just a Carnaval bloco rule but all around good sense. No spontaneous Carnaval love without the glove people!

Check out Time Out Rio de Janeiro for a list of Rio de Janeiro 2013 blocos

Now Carnaval alums, what would you add?

Parenting vs Expat Parenting

All parents have their parenting challenges. It just comes with the territory. Parents raising their children abroad are no different, except our reality is slightly skewed due to our expat/immigrant lifestyle. Here are some of the issues we face raising children outside of our home country.

1. If you and your child move to somewhere with a new language, they will eventually surpass your fluency. This is very cool, as you basically end up with your own free miniature translator.

2. As cool as it is to have your own personal child translator, it is annoying when said translator develops into your own personal language critic, complete with corrections and eye rolling.

3. Every kid has their favorite easy to convince them to eat foods. The issue with living abroad is that sometimes those foods are only available in another country and your attempt at it with foreign ingredients results in the complaint that ” it just isn’t the saaaaame Mommy.”

4. Simple questions can sometimes require complex answers, for example: Mommy why aren’t their favelas in your country?

5. People stare at you and your kids. It may be because you look different or because you are speaking another language, it really could be a lot of factors. Regardless, they are looking at you.

6. Politeness doesn’t necessarily have a universal definition. For example, I am big on my kids saying please and thank you. In Brazil it isn’t as big of a deal between adults and children. Adults, especially those who are close to your children, will tell them that they don’t need to say please or thank you. It isn’t because Brazilians don’t want your children to be polite, it is more because they feel a child shouldn’t need to use any sort of formality when requesting something from an adult. It is almost as if what I consider being polite and respectful feels like lowering the level intimacy for Brazilians.

7.  What you consider obvious when it comes to rules will be challenged. While I like my kids in bed early per US norms, it really started to kill my kids’ social life here in Brazil. Kids go to bed around 10 or 11pm in Rio de Janeiro, which means they also get up late. My poor boys were the only ones ready to play at 8am and the only ones not still out playing at 8pm. Life is about compromise and I figured, when in Rio de Janeiro do some of the things Cariocas do. Now my boys go to bed later and wake up later. They are happier and I have gotten used to waking up well after sunrise.

8. As much as all children appear as if they suffer from some sort of multiple personality disorder at some point in their lives, multicultural children turn it into an art. They can seem so incredibly foreign when playing with fellow foreigner children, and then seem 100% local when they are with local children. Hell, they can turn it on and off like a flip of a switch if in mixed company. They can even do it when throwing a fit, choosing whichever language or attitude best suits whatever momentary despair they are experiencing. This can work in your favor if they decide to use a language not prevalent in the country you are in at the moment.

9. A trip home is a true adventure. I will see your long drive and raise you a long flight, usually with a layover followed by a second flight. Going home for the holidays is an adventure that not only teaches your children how to be excellent future travelers but also makes Mom and Dad very excited about the alcoholic holiday beverages waiting at their destination.

10. Your children start to view your home country as an all inclusive resort where you eat and buy in extreme excess. For example, my half Brazilian half American boys look at the US as a large Target. They really can’t help it seeing we spend half our time there purchasing all the things we and are friends “need” from the states.

Shoulder Driving Assholes!

Brazilian roads are “special” places, meaning short bus special as opposed to something exceptional. Driving in Rio de Janeiro is almost like a video game, one that trades off between the classic paperboy video game full of dodging obstacles and Grand Theft Auto where you hope no one shoots you or tries to steal your car.

All and all though, once you get used to the lack of turn signal use and ridiculous playboys threatening everyone’s life by doing whatever it takes to pass one car, it isn’t that bad. That said, there is one thing that pisses me off to no end about some Brazilian drivers. Honestly, I dream of tracking them down and smashing their windshield with a bat. Dramatic yes but I am allowed to imagine anything I want.

What pissing me off so badly that I want to damage someone’s personal property? Those Mother Fuckers who drive on the shoulder during traffic jams. Honestly, there is no excuse for that kind of shit.

Firstly, you are Brazilian and are supposed to have a large respect for lines. Come on, it is one of the things your culture is known for. Guess what, traffic is a large line. Get your ass in it and stay there. Wait your turn! Secondly, the shoulder is for broken down cars, not for impatient douche bags wanting to cut 3.5 minutes off their commute.

And I have come up with an idea for revenge. Obviously I’m not going to do this but it made me feel better on Sunday as I watched those asshole try to cut off people once the shoulder disappeared, only to shoot back out once the shoulder returned.

Anyway, tacks. I would love to throw tacks out onto the shoulder, nails could work as well. Just imagine them cruising along thinking their shit doesn’t stink only to blow their tires and totally screw themselves over. Having to replace four tires would be enough to make those bastards think twice about riding the shoulders.Plus they’d most likely be rear ended by one of their fellow shoulder assholes. Two birds with a hundred tacks.

Please do keep in mind that in my imagination this action never causes injury, fire, or any sort of massive car accident. It would only cause monetary damage to the cars of the asshats driving them.

I also considered egging the cars as they went by, only that wouldn’t work seeing that I would be stuck in traffic and couldn’t get away. There is also the idea that we drive half in our lane and halfway into the shoulder to block the bastards. But as Mr Rant pointed out, that would put us at risk of being hit by one of them.

Of course this whole thing reminds me of what is forever wrong in this country. The police are not there to enforce, there is a group of Brazilians who openly take advantage of that fact, and the other group of Brazilians sit by and watch in disgust without doing anything.

So for the time being, I will spend my time in traffic imagining tires safely blowing out from tacks. I will also imagine Rio de Janeiro police actually enforcing driving laws and giving out the R$800 fine those douches are supposed to get. However, with all the shit that goes down in Rio de Janeiro, picking off obnoxious (though potentially dangerous) drivers isn’t really high up on the list so I doubt that will ever happen.

Am I the only one who gets extremely annoyed by this kind of behavior?

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And the Winner of American Exbrat in Sao Paulo is Natasha! Congratulations!

Don’t Fuck With Their Beer

Cariocas are standing up to many things these days, and this semi-recent movement is one that is close to my heart. Cariocas are standing up to rising beer prices.

You can get away with a lot in Rio de Janeiro. Politicians can steal money from public education. Police can be corrupt. But don’t fuck with with a Carioca’s beer!

The people of Rio de Janeiro have a long and steady relationship with this very light and very cold beverage. It is welcome at almost any Rio de Janeiro event. You have beer at the beach, in plazas, at children’s birthday parties, weddings, graduations, picnics, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up at the occasional funeral. I don’t know what it is, maybe the heat, but Cariocas are quite possibly more attached to their beer than they are their children.

That is why the ever rising prices at bars, in plazas, and on the beach are just pissing them off. It was one thing when a chopp (draft) went up from R$2 to R$2.50, it is a totally different thing to be busting out R$6 to R$8 or more per glass. You can raise the price of groceries, the price of toll roads, and even the price of utilities without too much hoopla. I mean, what are you really going to do about that? Start growing your own beans on your apartment balcony? Refuse to leave the city? Put solar panels on the roof of your building? You are kind of screwed there.

But when it comes to beer there is something this creative bunch can do. They are bringing coolers! Cariocas are ignoring their normal go-minimal-and-buy-there-attitude in order to make a point and save money at the same time.

“Isoporzinho”, or little styrofoam cooler, parties are becoming all the rage. Facebook events are being created so large groups can get together with their coolers and drink in “protest”. This is also happening on the beach! Carioca beach goers, horrified by new summer prices, are going old-school. They are bringing their own chairs, umbrellas, and coolers!

I totally understand and support this. R$15 for a beach umbrella for a local and R$25 for a tourist is just plain ludicrous. Plus with coolers being cool now, I can finally contribute to our Rio de Janeiro beach experience. What can I say, I’m American, I know how to pack a bad-ass cooler.

What about you? Will you bring or just deal with the prices?

Rio de Janeiro Takes Justice into Their Own Hands?

Honestly, this picture makes me sick. I don’t care what a person has done, this kind of humiliation is unacceptable. Someone who does this is not in the right. They are not fighting for good. Hell no, this is above and beyond wrong. It is the ugly side of ugly.

This type of action, along with a few others, were statements from a new group of Cariocas called the “justiceiros,” or vigilantes, who have decided to take crime in to their own hands. The picture above is an example of their work.

As it turns out, this street child does have a history of crime. Some rumors say that he was targeted as a known thief, but gossip is not something concrete enough to condone actions such as these. I’m not even sure facts are.

So what has given these Cariocas the idea that they have the right to take justice into their own hands?! Well, it seems some Cariocas have gotten to the point where they feel justice will only happen that way. And from what I have heard on the streets, they have a weird sort of hate/understanding coming from the public.

The people of Rio de Janeiro are tired of crime. They are tired of police that don’t take care of things, who never seem to be anywhere nearby when needed. They are tired of a government that does nothing for their people. For Heaven’s sake, just the other day a hospital in Zona Norte, and the people inside, were victim of an “arrastao,” a typical Rio de Janeiro type of attack where a large group of people run into an area or store and steal anything and everything in a short amount of time. They did this to a HOSPITAL! It is one thing to do this on the beach, still scary and unacceptable, but still not a place where the sick seek shelter.

Turns out in my area alone there were 3 arrastaos last month. One in a pharmacy, one in a Lojas Americanas, and one in a grocery store. The stores and the majority of the people in them were victims of this kind of unpredictable and scary type of attack.

Crime is once again surging in Rio de Janeiro, where a majority of the people have practically nothing to lose. Once again I wonder how the government doesn’t realize the power in giving good public education, public health, and public aide to ensure that the children of Brazil have a future to focus on.

Regardless, I do appreciate Cariocas standing up for themselves. That needs to happen. I just don’t necessarily think violence is the way. First off, an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind. Secondly, I’m not sure if this kind of scare tactic is going to work in the first place. I see the theory, that thieves will realize there are consequences to their actions, that if they attack someone on the street someone will be there to take care of it. It is kind of like a fucked up Carioca Playboy wannabe Kick-Ass situation.

 

Personally though, I think it will just make the whole situation even more violent. People are upping the ante, and is a risky move on many levels.

And while I understand being tired of fear and danger, do you really want to live in a society that treats people like this?

What is your take on this situation?

Giveaway: American Exbrat in Sao Paulo

cover

Lucky lucky readers, you guys have a chance to win a copy of American Exbrat in Sao Paulo by Megan Foxhole. So you can get a taste of the goodness that I am giving away, here is a summary of the kindle book:

American Exbrat in São Paulo: Advice, Stories, Tips and Tricks for Surviving South America’s Largest City.

Whether you are moving or traveling to São Paulo for a job, following a loved-one back to his or her home country, or embarking upon a personal adventure, the opportunity to live in Brazil is one of a lifetime. American Exbrat in São Paulo will help you navigate the rough spots and illuminate all that is worth enjoying. For those who may not be moving or traveling to São Paulo, but are simply Brazil-curious, you will get a view into a world that is exotic and chaotic, yet cool and full of conviction. American Exbrat will be your companion on the journey through the ups and down, ins and outs, and the curious roundabouts. If you are in the city temporarily, semi-permanently, growing roots deep in the soil of São Paulo or simply along for a virtual ride, the stories, advice, tips and tricks on these pages will help make the experience memorable.

 Bem-vindo to your new adventure!

Now the fun part. To participate in this contest, read American Exbrat’s “10 Terms You Should Know” below and add a potential 11th in the comment section. Give it a go! But don’t be scared, if you don’t know a term just leave a comment. I know not everyone can bust out terms like Megan!

Chapter 10:  Ten Terms You Should Know

Sometimes knowing the vocabulary and sentence structure of a language isn’t enough to gain a good understanding of what’s happening around you. Brazilian Portuguese, in particular, is a language full of slang and terms unique to the culture of the country. Knowing just a few of these concepts will help you understand a bit more behind the motivations of a Brazilian.

1. Jeitinho

A Brazilian’s ability to get around, over, in or out of something despite a law, a regulation, a contract, physics or gravity. Brazilians use this God-given talent mainly for situations in which the overwhelming bureaucracy is impeding their capacity to get something done. But they may also use it to simply get out of a task they don’t want to take on or to avoid paying full price for something. Do not attempt to perform jeitinho. It is a complicated dance that, if done incorrectly, might push you back ten steps. If needed, ask a Brazilian to perform it for you. For more about jeitinho, see Chapter 12: Society.

2. Paulistano/a

One born in the city of São Paulo. Also know that a paulista is one born in the state of São Paulo.  There is a distinct difference as paulistanos consider themselves very metropolitan. As the state of São Paulo is very large and diverse in culture, a paulistano and a paulista can be a very different animal. Do not complain about São Paulo to a paulistano or paulistana. Paulistanos are convinced that São Paulo is as important and entertaining a city as New York or London or Paris. I’m not saying that it’s not… I’m just saying.

3. Carioca

One born in Rio de Janeiro. There are vast differences between someone from Rio de Janeiro and someone from São Paulo. Cariocas are said (by paulistanos) to be more interested in hanging out on the sand than working and paulistanos are said (by cariocas) to work too hard and be overly obsessed with money.

Note: The paulistano and carioca are both distinct and separate from the baiano, a person from the state of Bahia. A Brazilian joke outlines the core difference of these three cultures and goes something like this: A man is selling beer on the beach for R$4 a can. A carioca buys a beer, but convinces the vendor to sell it to him for R$3. A paulistano buys a beer and tells his friends he spent R$6. A baiano just brings his own beer.

4. Feira

Weekly farmer’s market. Most neighborhoods have a feira at least one day a week. The feira involves the closing down of multiple city blocks to make way for the stands of meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts, snacks, spices and often clothing and household items. The feiras begin as early as 7 a.m. and are over by 1 p.m. Five of the seven days of the week are named after the feirasegunda-feira or second feira (Monday), terca-feira or third feira (Tuesday), quarta-feira or fourth feira (Wednesday), quinta-feira or fifth feira (Thursday) and sexta-feira or sixth feira (Friday).

5. Xepa

The last hour of the feira, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. During this period, all the vendors of perishable goods just want to go home without having to drag any produce back with them. When it is xepa, you can receive significant discounts on anything that will eventually go bad. Just ask “Quanto?” No matter what the vendor says, pretend to walk away and they will lower the price.

6. Tudo Bem

This is a very useful phrase that means “all is well” and very indicative of the Brazilian culture. It is most often used as a greeting, in question format, with the appropriate response being a return of the “tudo bem” or simply “tudo” (all or everything) or “bem”(well) or “bom” (good) or “ótimo” (great).

7. Rodízio

This term means rotation and will refer to two conditions. First, your license plate will determine one day that you will be unable to drive your car during the morning hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and the evening hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Rodízio also refers to a menu option, typically in sushi restaurants and churrascarias, where you pay one price and are served to your table “all you can eat” selections.

8. Churrasco

A Brazilian style barbecue that involves grilling meats, sausages, cheese and bread, traditionally on an outdoor grill. It can also refer to a Brazilian restaurant that serves a variety of grilled meats rodízio style, a churrascaria.

9. Farofeira

The act of bringing your own food and beverages to the beach. Farofeira is looked down upon by the upper and middle classes. The proper way to approach consumption on the beach is to purchase food and beverages from the vendors, even if you are not particularly fond of cheese-on-a-stick, ice cream or beer.

10. Boteco

A place to drink. Usually, this term is used to describe those little corner places where the old men drink cachaça all morning. However, you will find some trendy botecos in neighborhoods like Vila Madalena, Jardins and Pinheiros with good Brazilian food and a wide selection of beverages.

Now it is your turn. Put your thinking hats on and come up with something good, or just post a comment, in the comment section below. Make sure there is a way for me to get in touch with you!

For an extra entry, like Megan’s Facebook page: Born Again Brazilian. Make sure you leave a comment on her page telling us you liked it!

 Last day is Feb 12th! A lucky reader will be selected at random and I will let you know the following day

 

How to Be a Successful Expat

Photo from: http://blog.melonicoaching.com/

Moving to a different country is not always easy. It is not a prolonged vacation, at least not after a few months. Even when abroad, real life has a tendency of sneaking up on you. Trust me, I live in Rio de Janeiro. If real life found me here it can find us anywhere.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do that will help you adapt to your new reality.

1. Regularly do something that scares you. No I am not suggesting that you go somewhere shady, join an extreme sport, or put your life at risk in any sort of way. When living abroad, especially when you don’t speak the language, people tend to scare easily. It’s understandable but it is also something that you need to get over. Being scared is very different from being smart. Scared keeps you from doing things for no particular reason while being smart means that you get out there without putting yourself in a bad situation. Be smart and explore your new city. Check out different neighborhoods. Try new things. If you are afraid you’ll get lost, look up directions online beforehand. Fill up with the knowledge of those who did these things before you. If you are afraid you will stick out from the crowd, get used to it because most likely you will.

2. Go it alone. One of the best ways to actually learn your way around is to explore on your own or with a friend who is just as lost as you are. Do your research online, as it is very unlikely that you are going somewhere no one else has gone before, and find the best way to get there. Then go! Having to navigate will force you to pay attention and you will know your way around in no time.

3. Learn the language! Learn the language! Learn the language! In case you aren’t picking up on my subtlety, LEARN THE LANGUAGE.

4. Take mass transit…if it is safe. Mass transit can be tricky and I know it is not always the safest route. It really depends on the city/country. That said, many expats I have met have been warned not to take mass transit in Rio de Janeiro. I find that ridiculous seeing that I have been using every form of mass transit available in Rio de Janeiro since arriving here. Of course I do get that companies get nervous about liabilities but please do keep in mind that when traveling with a company the HR team has a tendency of trying to scare the crap out of you when it comes to doing anything outside of your apartment. That also goes for US embassies. I swear if Disneyland was considered another country they’d send out emails warning about potentially aggressive terrorists hitting heels with strollers. That said, there have been incidences in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the rest of the world. Do not take mass transit late at night (or in the very early morning). It something seems weird or shady, walk the hell away. That is just common sense.

5. Stay on top of the local news, especially if your future country is in turmoil.  For example, that means that you shouldn’t get your news about Rio de Janeiro from the New York Times if you can get it from Globo or one of the other local news sources. Honestly, when shit hits the fan in Rio de Janeiro, I get on Twitter. It is the most accurate and up to date source I have found yet!

6. For the love of all that is holy, try different looking food! Obviously I mean in sanitary conditions, at least as sanitary as possible considering the moment. You traveled to another country to experience new things, or because of a big paycheck. Either way you might as well have some stories to tell when you get home. Remember, people love crazy food stories!

7. Celebrate. Every country has their celebrations and you should go out and enjoy them! While not all of them can be hedonistic drunk fests like Brazil’s Carnaval, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth checking out. You’ll regret it later if you don’t!

8. Go native, as in make local friends. Locals will show you the coolest stuff in their city/country, will help you learn the ropes, and will impact your life as they encourage you to see their world through their eyes. Nothing like a change of scenery followed by a change of perspective to shake things up! Trust me, I have made some serious life friends in Rio de Janeiro.

9. Meet fellow foreigners. Everything in life is a balance, especially when it comes to the company you keep. As awesome as locals are, sometimes you just want a fellow expat/immigrant to talk to about life in a different place. That is something a local would not necessarily understand. A fellow fish out of water can be a very big breath of fresh air.

10. Travel if possible. Take advantage of your foreign location and explore the cities and countries around you. Once you have left, what are the chances that you’ll be back in that part of the world again?

11. Respect the culture. As much as we all have opinions, it is important that you respect the country that is hosting you. You may hate it but it is still home to someone else.

12. Be prepared! Look up your future or current home up on google. Find resources for expats. Visit pages like the HiFX Expat Page where expats such as myself have contributed pearls of expat wisdom. Seriously, the more prepared you are for the challenges ahead, the better the outcome.

 

22 Signs You Have Adapted To Life in Brazil

1. You can now make homemade pancakes, brownies, waffles, bread or whatever else you used to buy in a packet back home… and you do it well!

2. You tan but not because your skin has adapted. You can now tan because after so many burns you finally know 1. how to properly time sunscreen application and 2. the ideal time of day on the beach for your skin.

3. Ladies, your gym clothes no longer consist of old clothes or items stolen from the closet of your significant other. That would be truly unacceptable. Your gym clothes not only match now but they also cling, cup, and mold to your body.

4. Remember said gym clothes?  Well, you also feel perfectly comfortable wearing them to run errands, even if you aren’t planning on going to the gym.

5. Not only can you hail a mean cab, you do the same with your waiters!

6. You know what a pressure cooker is, it does not scare you, and you use it on a semi-regular basis.

7. You have mastered the hand signals required for ordering beers from across a bar.

8. Jeans double as semi-formal pants.

9. Your garbage disposal is a mini trash can that sits next to your sink.

10. You offer to hold someone else’s backpack if you manage to get a seat on a full bus.

11. You complain when they don’t serve beers at childrens’ birthday parties.

12. Beans and rice make up 50% of your diet.

13. You no longer flinch when red wine is served chilled.

14. How on Earth did you live without blackout curtains???

15. A plaza where people sell beer out of a styrofoam box is the perfect place to spend a Friday night.

16. Bbqs do not consist of hot dogs and hamburgers. A successful bbq must have meat, chicken, chicken hearts and more sausage than the entire group could eat in two days.

17. Nothing makes your ass happier after a crap than a nice strong stream of water. Toilet paper need not apply.

18. Ladies, at this point nothing grows in but your landing strip.

19. Men, Boardshorts are no longer swim suits. They are the shorts your wear to the beach over your swim suit.

20. Capoeira no longer looks like break-dance fighting.

21. Ladies, your bikini is smaller than your underwear.

22. You go home for a visit and can’t for the life of you understand why you can’t bring your kid inside a bar.