Procurando Moradia em Sao Paulo

(Looking for Housing in Sao Paulo)

One of the most stressful things about travelling is worrying about finding a place to live. Moving to Sao Paulo, I was lucky enough to find housing through a friend, but it can be nerve-racking when you are moving to a new city or country and you are struggling to find a place to live.

Here I have some sites and facebook groups that may help with the search. Some are for housing specifically, and some are for expats in general! I hope they provide useful!

  1. Easy Quarto

http://www.easyquarto.com.br/sao-paulo/sao-paulo-capital-companheiros-de-quarto

  1. Sampa Housing

http://www.sampahousing.com/

  1. InterNations – Sao Paulo

http://www.internations.org/sao-paulo-expats/forum

Facebook

Sao Paulo (in general)

  1. Casa Cajaiba (one specific place available to students)

https://www.facebook.com/casa.cajaiba?fref=ts

  1. Young Expats and Internationals in Sao Paulo

https://www.facebook.com/groups/282191611941181/

  1. Expats Sao Paulo

https://www.facebook.com/expatsaopaulo 

  1. Worldwide Expats in Brazil

https://www.facebook.com/groups/523660624404435/

  1. Erasmus and International People in Sao Paulo

https://www.facebook.com/reisaopaulo

USP

  1. Rede de Estudantes Intercambistas – Sao Paulo (REI)

https://www.facebook.com/reisaopaulo

Como Usar o Transporte Público em São Paulo e Aplicativos úteis

(How to Use Public Transit in São Paulo and Helpful Apps)

Just like any major city, you will need to become acquainted with public transportation in Sao Paulo, and fast. Sao Paulo is a massive city, constantly crowded, littered with peopled and cars on the streets, and taking a taxi everywhere is absolutely out of the question if you’re on any sort of budget.

Luckily, the metro is incredibly comprehensive and access all of the major areas of the city. Unfortunately, once you finish being a tourist and really get into the nit-grit of living in Sao Paulo every day, the metro fails to go everywhere you need to. This means you will have to learn to take the bus.

For anyone nearly as directionally challenged as I am, taking the bus is one of those things in life that you will always dread and avoid as much as humanly possible. It can be quite confusing and of course, it does not help that it’s all in another language.

First piece of advice: suck it up and ask for directions. Since living in Brazil, I’ve become unbelievably comfortable with approaching strangers on the street to ask for directions. Uncomfortably, so, for my friends. But developing the courage to do so has helped immensely not only with my language skills, but has also saved me a lot of time wandering and trying to decipher the public transport system alone.

More than likely, particularly in travelling to USP, you will need to use both the metro and the bus to get from place to place. In these cases, it will be very expensive to purchase passages each time.

The first thing you need to buy is the “Bilhete Unico”

bilhete

If you do not have a student ID, you will buy the “Comum” fare. With the ID, you can buy the “Estudante” fare. There is no difference, except each time you swipe the card, the student’s fare comes out to half. (This is another thing you will notice in Sao Paulo. Almost everything has a student discount of 50%!).

With the “Comum” fare, you can transfer up to three times in 3 hours. With the “Estudante” fare, you can transfer up to three times in 2 hours.

For more information: http://bilheteunico.sptrans.com.br/

Useful Apps

One thing you will notice here in Sao Paulo is that everyone has an app for everything. Here are a few that I recommend for day-to-day transportation.

  1. Google Maps.
    • This one is self-explanatory, but in case explanation is needed: it is incredibly useful in looking at different routes and options for arriving where you need to be. However, sometimes, it fails to mention the best methods of getting places that you know to be better than those listed on the app.
  2. Waze
    • This app is great in giving you information on traffic, accidents, and other impediments en route. This app is best used in the city/capital. The further you get from highly-populated areas, the less useful it becomes. For living in Sao Paulo, it’s a must.

Waze

https://www.waze.com/

  1. Cade o Onibus?
    • This app is dead useful for public transportation. It gives you schedules and nearby stations/stops for buses and the metro. It will also give you current locations for buses, and has options to save your favorite lines and routes.

cadeoonibus

http://cadeoonibus.com.br/CoO/SiteV2

  1. Sao Paulo Metro
    • This app has a full map of the Sao Paulo metro. You can look up routes and the closest stations.

spmetro

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=br.com.metrosp.appmetro&hl=en

  1. Easy Taxi
    • This app is great for getting taxis when public transportation is unavailable or when you are in an area where access to taxis isn’t great. You simply enter your current location and taxi drivers with the app (most in Sao Paulo do) can choose to accept the call. If they do, the app gives you an estimated time of arrival of the taxi and a map of where the taxi is at the moment.

easytaxi

http://www.easytaxi.com/br/

For more apps, see here:

http://info.abril.com.br/noticias/downloads/fotonoticias/8-apps-para-ajudar-no-transito.shtml

Como Navegar o Campo da USP

(How to Navigate the USP Campus)

a_faculdade_medicina_ribeirao_preto_da_usp_vai_mapear_as_praticas_exercicio_fisico_na_populacao_da_cidade

You will see that the USP campus is ENORMOUS. It’s known as “Cidade Universitaria” (University City), and it is, indeed, a city on its own. It’s incredibly big and a bit difficult to navigate. Honestly, the best way to learn the best ways of getting around is just to start using the bus system inside of the campus and pay attention as you drive through campus!

If you do not live in Butanta (the district right outside of the university), you will most likely be taking the train or bus into Butanta, the district in which USP is. In this regard, it is fairly simple getting back and forth between the Metro Station and the University. Right outside the metro you will easily be able to get any number of buses labeled “Cidade Universitaria”. These will all go through the campus. You will want to look up ahead of time what stop you need for your department, but the drivers can generally help you with that as well. On the campus itself, you can then, conversely, take any bus labelled “Butanta”. Make sure, if you are not certain, to ask the driver before getting on that the bus is heading to Butanta and not in the opposite direction. If you take the bus in the wrong direction, it will take you twice as long to get to the metro than if you take the correct one, though you will arrive there either way.

Here is a link with a list of many of the buses that lead from other major parts of the city to USP and vice versa: http://www.puspc.usp.br/?page_id=100

Here is a comprehensive map of the university: http://www.usp.br/mapas/mapas/pdf/cidadeuniversitaria.pdf

When in doubt, you can always use Google Maps!

To use the bus system on campus for free, you need to apply for a School Pass:

  1. Go to the SAS-USP, “Setor de Passe Escolar”

                   Rua do Anfiteatro, no. 295

                   Cidade Universitaria

                   11 3091 3581

                    8:30am-5:30pm.

  1. Take a photo with you
  2. Carry your identification card, received from the Federal Police
  3. Carry a Bilhete Unico

Como Solicitar Matricular-Se na USP

(How to Apply to and Register at USP)

After getting accepted by Drexel Study Abroad into the “Drexel in Brazil” program, you will need to follow the USP procedures for exchange students. The dates listed are those for enrolling in USP for the fall semester. The class registration and orientation information is specific to the Institute of International Relations.

  1. Drexel Study Abroad will notify you that they have nominated you to USP. (March/April)
  2. You will receive a link from USP in the upcoming weeks with application instructions. (April)
    1. If you do not receive this email within two weeks, email the university. You will want to email the International Office directly. If you are uncomfortable with communicating in Portuguese, you can write in English to:

                        Rafael Dall’olio

International Officer

                        USP International Office

Webpage: http://www.usp.br/internationaloffice/

Phone: (+55) 11 3091-3529

  1. You will need to submit the following materials: (by mid-May)
    1. A letter of recommendation from Drexel
    2. Your transcript as well as a simple translation into Portuguese
    3. A copy of your passport
    4. A photo in .jpg format, 50Kb
    5. A copy of the Academic Pre-Approval form submitted to Drexel Study Abroad prior to acceptance into program
  2. After reviewing the documents, USP will send your letter of acceptance to Drexel Study Abroad. (end of May/beginning of June)
  3. Upon receiving the letter of acceptance, you will see into which Departments you have been accepted. You will need to email the International Cooperation Center (CCI) of each to get information on Orientation and Class Registration. This correspondence can be in English, if you choose, but Portuguese is preferred. Below is contact information for the CCI of the Institute of International Relations (IRI) and Economics (FEA – Economia)

                             Alexandre Joviniano dos Santos

Instituto de Relações Internacionais – International Office

E-mail: ccnint.iri@usp.br

Phone: + 55 (11) 3091 0517

Adriana

                              Faculdade de Financeiro, Economia e Acontabilidade

E-mail: ccintfea@usp.br

Phone: + 55 (11) 3091 6075

  1. Orientation is the first day of classes. You will receive information about the school and forms to register for classes. Have a list of your desired classes ready. The earlier you submit your paperwork, the more likely you are to get your classes. Literally, the first person to hand their paper to the International Officer during orientation has first priority. I would advise requesting this form ahead of time and having it filled out before getting to orientation. Below are links to help you navigate class registration. (First week of August)
    1. Instructions on using the online course catalogs: http://www.usp.br/internationaloffice/en/index.php/admissions/undergraduate/orientation-for-disciplines-selection
    2. Course Catalog, organized by Faculty: http://www5.usp.br/ensino/graduacao/cursos-oferecidos
    3. To look up the requirements, general descriptions, required requisites, and schedules for specific classes: https://uspdigital.usp.br/jupiterweb/jupDisciplinaBusca?tipo=D&codmnu=2214
      1. You will need to enter the Course Code (LLL####) in the “Sigla da Disciplina” box. Once on the course page, you can scroll down to the bottom and click “Clique para consultar os requisites para LLL####) to see required requisites and click “Clique para consultar o oferecimento para LLL####) to see the schedule for the course in the upcoming semester.
    4. Academic Calendar: https://sistemas.usp.br/jupiterweb/jupCalendario.jsp
  2. You will receive your student ID cards (hopefully), access to the online systems, and permanent class registration within the first three weeks – given that there are no strikes on campus at the time (very unlikely!). You have three weeks to drop and add courses before your schedule is finalized.

Como Pegar Seu Visto de Estudante Brasileiro

(How to Get Your Student Visa for Brazil)

Getting your student visa to Brazil is fairly simple for undergraduate studies. One thing important to note is that you must be outside of Brazil to apply for the student visa. Keep in mind that the following instructions are up-to-date as of August 2014 and are subject to change based on a number of factors, one of the most important being current US-Brazil relations. Be sure to double check the visa requirements ahead of time.

  1. Locate the closest Brazilian Consulate/Embassy. For Drexel students, this is in NYC.

225 East 41 Street

New York, NY 10017

Phone: 917-777-7777

Cg.novayork@itamaraty.gov.br

Visa Application Material Drop Off Hours: M-F 9am-12pm

Visa Pick-up Hours: M-F 2:30-4pm

  1. You will need to make an appointment ahead of time to drop off your application materials, as of August 1, 2014.
  2. You will need the following documents to apply for a student visa:
    • Passport, valid for at least 6 months, with at least one blank visa page
    • Visa Application Form, filled out online, printed, signed, and with a passport photo glued above the barcode.
      1. Find the application here, by clicking “Solicitar Visto” https://scedv.serpro.gov.br/frscedv/index.jsp
    • Two recent 2” x 2” passport photos
    • Copy of your booked, round-trip ticket itinerary
    • Original copy of letter of acceptance to USP (or whichever university), stating the length of studies and what you intend to study.
    • FBI clearance or criminal background check from the last 3 months. If you do the Criminal Background Check in PA, you may use the digitized copy sent to you immediately after completing the request online.
    • Proof of Financial Capability During Stay – in other words, proof that you will be able to pay for your trip. This can be proof of a scholarship, a copy of bank/credit card statement, a copy of a savings certificate, a letter from a sponsoring organization or your family (with an attached bank statement), notarized. Most banks will notarize documents for free. Luckily, there are a bunch near the NY Consulate.
    • Proof of residence within the consular jurisdiction within the last 12 months. This can be a letter from your employer or Drexel (notarized), a copy of a utility bill, voter’s registration, or pay stubs.
    • You will also need to get a money order for $160 USD. Checks and cash are not accepted. You can get a money order at any US post office.
  3. Upon submitting your application materials, you will be given a ticket with your pickup date and a number. Do not lose this ticket. If you do, it will take at least 3 more business days to get your visa.
  4. Keep in mind that the visa will take a minimum of 5 business days to be processed.
  5. You may have a family member take your ticket and pick up your visa for you.
  6. Upon arriving to Brazil, you will have 30 days to register with the Federal Police and get your CPF. (this is explained in another post.)
  7. Enjoy your time in Brazil!

For complete, detailed information about the Visa to Brazil or any other Brazilian Consulate services, go here: http://novayork.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/other_types_of_visa.xml#Temporary Visa iV

Minha Experiência Pessoal Candidate-se a Aceitação da USP

(My Personal Experience with Applying for Acceptance at USP)

First and foremost, as a Drexel Student going to Brazil, you will need to understand the process of applying to and registering at a university – whether it be the Drexel-sponsored USP or another Brazilian university.

In all honesty, this process, which continues to today, is uniquely frustrating and disheartening. But it also depends on how you choose to handle it. Mine – blow off all the steam in one, whiney, angry episode, and then laugh it off after when recounting the story to others, where the punchline is my own misfortune.

Below, I have a quick (or not so quick) explanation of my own personal journey to/at USP. I truly hope and do expect that it be easier for anyone else who decides to pursue this program in the future.

March 2014

After having completed and submitted all of the necessary paperwork to Drexel Study Abroad, the office let me know that I had been accepted and they had already nominated me through the online system to USP for the Fall Semester.

A week later I received a general email from USP in Portuguese, with links to general student information.

Lesson Learned: Study Abroad gets work done. Incredibly quickly. Even when it’s in another language.

May

The chaos ensues. On May 15th I received an email from Study Abroad informing me that they had been told by the International Office at USP that I had not yet done my online application due the follow day, May 16th. Panicked, I combed through my Drexel email but failed to find an email with any application instructions or requirements from USP. Immediately, I emailed the International Office at USP asking to be sent the application materials. They responded with an email simply saying that I had been sent a link through which I could access the online application.

I never found that link.

I emailed them 3-4 more times in the next week. I was not given a response until more than a week later, more than a week after the application was due. Given the lateness, I instead sent my application materials directly to one of the International Office officers and was accepted to the Institute of International Relations and the Law faculty. I was told that there were no more spots left in the Economics school, though if I wished to take classes in that faculty, there would be a way to do so.

Lesson Learned: If you do not hear from USP within a few weeks of being nominated by Drexel, make sure to email them first, asking about the application materials. Remember that it will take days to weeks to get a response.

June –July

In the first week of June, I visited Sao Paulo. At the time, I was living in Salvador da Bahia, in the Northeast of Brazil. I went directly to the International Office at USP to speak with them personally. I verified that everything was set with materials they needed from me and asked about class registration. I was given a link (written on a post-it) and told that once the site was available (estimated to be near the end of June, but “don’t be surprised if it takes longer, it will be the World Cup”) I could log on to look at and register for classes. I also requested that my letter of acceptance be sent to my address in Salvador so I could use the original copy, as needed, to grab my student visa.

              *As a side note, I was living in Salvador, studying Portuguese at a language school but with a tourist visa. The school had informed me, before arriving to Brazil, that I would be able to change my visa to a student visa while in the country. I recognize, now, that it would have served me well to have done personal research on this before leaving the US, as it was incorrect information.

After leaving Sao Paulo, I did not hear back again from the university until after the World Cup, save a few email responses saying “It’s the World Cup, everything will be available afterwards!”

On July 14th, the day after the World Cup final, I received an email from the International Exchange Office explaining that I would need to contact the Institute of International Relations for information about my acceptance letter, my orientation date, registration for classes, and for any questions about my visa. In other words, the International Exchange Office could give me absolutely zero information that any exchange/international student might need. Go figure.

Luckily, it took only two days for the Institute of International Relations to get back to me. Unluckily, the email I received was anything but what I had hoped to hear back. Instead it detailed the following.

  1. I would need to leave the country to obtain my student visa. There is no office in Brazil with the capacity to do this within the country. (Admittedly, this one was my fault for not knowing the visa requirements.)
  2. In order to register for classes I would have to a.) be at the university in person and b.) already have my student visa.
  3. Orientation was on the first day of classes. 11AM, exactly three weeks from two days before.
  4. My visa letter was already sent to Drexel in Philadelphia. If I wanted the original, I would need to get it there.
  5. In order to take classes in other faculties (outside of International Relations), I would need to contact each department individually and ask to take classes.

At face value, there should not have been any problems. In theory, I could have booked a last minute, cheap flight to a neighboring country – say, Argentina – gone to the US embassy, turned in my paperwork, and gotten my visa just a week later, with plenty of time to spare. But, as I had explained to the IRI and IEO offices, I was obligated to my languages classes until July 20th, for which I had already paid for. Additionally, anyone who has travelled before knows that original documents are necessary for little things like student visas, and with the university not wanting to print me a new one, I needed the one in Philadelphia. However, mailing documents back and forth between Brazil and the US, or just Brazil and other countries in general can be a dangerous game when they’re time sensitive.

That meant, I needed to book a flight for the next week. With all of my belongings in Salvador, I decided to first fly to Sao Paulo, drop my things off at an apartment which I had arranged to rent last minute through a friend, and boarded another flight to the US the next evening.

Needless to say, the flight cost me more than an arm and a leg, and upon landing in NYC, I promptly took a train and a bus to Philadelphia, grabbed my letter, and promptly took a bus and a train back to NYC, where I stayed the night at a relative’s house.

The one thing I can say about this whole process is that the Visa Officer from the NY Brazilian Consulate who took care of my visa is an angel. Wherever she is, that woman deserves some sort of award, or raise, or at the very least, a cookie and a hug. Upon seeing my anxiety and hearing the above story, she took my paperwork and promised to have it done within 3 business days, instead of 5. Whew.

Lessons Learned: Always do more research on official and complicated administrative processes, such as getting your student visa. Do not expect responses and follow-up from other offices as you would at Drexel/in the US, even if you’ve studied abroad before and had a good experience. ALWAYS pursue as many scholarships as possible to fund your travels. Mine saved my a** in buying my ticket back to the US. Personal international problems do not accommodate to you. You bear the burden of getting yourself out of it, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and just get it done now.

August

On the morning of August 4th, I landed in the Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo and ended up taking a(n expensive!) taxi straight to the university. Though I arrived to orientation fairly late, I was able to hand in my class registration forms and made it to class later that night, 7.30-11.00pm.

However, as of now, I stand almost three weeks into the semester, without a definite class schedule. Receiving group emails from the IRI office about being registered in classes in which I have no interest, but without word on the classes I DID put on my registration form. I have about 10 emails sent but unanswered and I’m still without access to the USP version of Drexel’s Blackboard, or BBC Learn … whatever it is that we use … on which all of the professors have been putting the class materials. This upcoming Friday will be the final registration day and, in all honesty, only God knows if I will actually have a comprehensive schedule by then.

As of now, the library, university hospital, sport’s center, and whichever office it is that gives students their ID cards which allows free access to the university bus system (YES, you have to take a bus, the campus is entirely too enormous to traverse on foot) are all on strike.

Lessons Learned: Sometimes, it is okay, and even necessary, to lower your expectations for the sake of staying sane. Being persistent is not inconveniencing anyone else, it’s just getting your own agenda done. Don’t be afraid of being annoying, maybe it’ll actually motivate people to get a move on their duties that affect you.

So, in short, this university is a mess. It’s frustrating and seriously makes me question its ranking as “Top University in South America”… God help all the international students the “Worst University in South America”.

To be honest, I’ve found myself questioning the worth of this program in the last couple weeks. Whether all the time, resources, and money I’ve spent just on the simplest tasks to ensure my proper attendance and registration here has all been worth the experience I have. While I find that I want to say no, in spite of this university which currently functions as the bane of my existence, I know that in the end it would have all been worth it.

So far, just in two weeks, I have had four to five simulated international/business negotiations in Portuguese with some of the most intelligent and well-spoken people I have ever met. I have begun a course taught by a former member of the Crisis sector of the EU and have gone days at a time without physically speaking a word of English, just Portuguese. Who knows what will happen in the next 15 weeks. I suppose in a lot of ways, my experience with USP thus far has been indicative of my experience in general with Brazil – a contradiction of overwhelming frustration and overwhelming inspiration.

Welcome to Brazil!

Beijos,

Jen

UPDATE (3 days after the above was written)

Upon visiting the offices and inquiring about my classes in person, things seem so much simpler, though suspiciously so! Upon meeting the International Office head of IRI, outside his office, we had a brief conversation about my schedule – I mentioned that there were two classes I needed changed, and he said, “Okay, I’ll do that.” I want to believe that it’s as simple as that, but… well I’m a little weary so I’ll be checking in tomorrow to make sure my schedule is set.

Also, I have been told that access to the online system will be given to all the exchange students next week. It seems that it was not negligence on their part in not sending us that information upon the start of the term, but it’s planned not to be given until three weeks in, go figure.

Lastly, today I spoke with the Economics department in person. Though they did not respond to my emails after our previous meeting in person, I had been put on the waiting list for a course I wanted. Tomorrow, supposedly, I will know definitively if I may take the course, if I go back to the office.

Lessons Learned: Email just isn’t a way of communicating here. Always go in person, and multiple times.

** There will be another post, similar to this one simply listing the requirements and objective process for applying to USP after acceptance by the Drexel Study Abroad program.

DSC_0059

Seja Bem-Vindo ao Brasil

DSC_0059

Welcome to Brazil. Home of Portugles. Portunhol. Portunholgles. All of the above. Seja bem-vindo. Welcome. Tudo bem? How are you? Undoubtedly, excited to enter a world portrayed around the globe as a place of parties, beaches, females, bundas, caipirinhas, and sol. All the sol you could possibly desire. The home of the Amazonias, the favelas, incredible economic and social development, and crippling class disparities. Home of Rio and the best Carnavals in the world (that’s right, multiple, with each State hosting its own unique Carnaval). Home of Capoeira, the dance-fighting that’s deceptively dangerous and incredibly demanding for the mind, body, and spirit. Home of Samba, the dance of muscular calves, round behinds, and expert rhythm. Home of acai, the strange berry that serves as energy for the hunters of the Amazon, which, when mixed with Guarana, banana and granola, turns into the addictive frozen treat of any common passerby. Home of unsettlingly high homicide rates, frustratingly complex and dysfunctional bureaucracy, and notorious and sometimes violent fervor for futebol. Home of hypocrisy, contradiction, and internal strife.

Seja bem-vindo.

Brazil is everything and nothing at all like you expected. It’s a country of incredible hospitality, unbelievably welcoming and open people, and infectious energy. It is a variety of countries and cultures within one greater, united country and culture. It is host to intense heat, overwhelming downpours, suffocating humidity, and biting winds. It holds one of the most rapidly growing urbanized areas in the world, and home to the awe-inspiring Amazon rain forest that we dream about in primary school, dazzled by the concentrated bio-diversity. It is a country of color – of every color on the spectrum, omnipresent in the scenery, the clothing, the cuisine, and the people. It creates multitudes of genres of music, each unique in their own right, strung together by the basic common thread of the Brazilian love for dance, song, and creativity. Brazil bears more fruits than you could ever eat in your lifetime, each a little sweeter and more flavorful than the last. The food is addictive and showcases the culture and people. Every state is radically different than its neighbor, each hosting a different part of the Brazilian culture, and, at the same time, displaying the “Brazilian culture” in its beautiful entirety.

It’s easy to fall in love with Brazil. Ask any Brazilian. Brazil is that steamy, rushed, intense passion of your adolescence. It’s addictive and sweet. It’s unhealthy. You fight and make up multiple times a day. Sometimes you want nothing more than to leave Brazil behind and never look back, and other days you can’t imagine your life without it.

Brazil looks just like it does in those ads which inspire your vibrant dreams – beautiful beaches, gorgeous women, attractive men, incredible festas (parties), and lively music. But it is so much more. It is also so much less. Brazil is a prisoner to its own standards broadcast across the world. Women are objectified, men are expected to uphold macho traditions, and the scenes of perpetual parties conceal devastating truths of poverty, violence, harassment, and corruption.

Take a trip to Salvador da Bahia and try to walk down the street as woman without at least two handfuls of men whistling, yelling grotesque “compliments”, or simply boring their eyes into you as if attempting to mentally will you to walk over and fulfill their fleeting dirty fantasies.

Go to Rio or Sao Paulo and walk into a favela, characterized by violence around every corner, drug-trade, and crippling poverty, and convince them how wonderful their lives must be in such a party-filled, beach-crazed country, where all that matters are picking up gorgeous women and pouring your next drink.

Try to hold on to your idealist version of the easy life in Brazil as you witness people of all ages suffering and dying in emergency waiting rooms due to shocking shortages of doctors, hospital personnel, beds, medical supplies and organization.

The reality is that many of us don’t want to see the reality of Brazil. The country is strongly rooted with serious economic, social, and political issues that have bleak near-future outcomes. Bureaucratic corruption is commonplace and expected while machismo dictates social life.

Brazil teaches you to be comfortable with your body while you simultaneously grow ever-obsessive with your physical appearance. If someone’s not flirting with you, well, something must be wrong with you, of course.

Do you need to get something important done? Are you trying to enroll in a university? Maybe extend your visa? Just asking for information on every day legal and administrative processes? Good luck. You’re on your own. But make sure you get it done, or else, get ready to pay, meu filho!

The reality is, Brazil can be the greatest and worst part of your life all at the same time. It’s that big leap you took in your 20’s that changed your life for the better forever. It’s that unhealthy relationship you look back on in your 30’s and wonder how you could ever be so stupid. It’s that great adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life, in all of its flaws and frustrations.

Living in Brazil is more than your average trip. It’s a look inward at yourself. Your own beliefs, your own actions. Which parts of the country do you choose to acknowledge and which do you choose to ignore? Will you live on the surface, within the safety blanket of the privilege awarded to all foreigners who forever have the option of shedding Brazil when they tire of it or of diving in head-first, both living the amazing cultural and social opportunities while being conscientious of its systemic issues, joining the general population’s struggle in changing the basic economic and political DNA of the country?

Stop. Take a breath.

None of this is meant to discourage you.

Brazil is a beautiful, captivating country. You will never forget or regret the decision to come here, whether it be for one week, one month, one year, or a lifetime.

Ask anyone who has ever lived or visited here. Brazil becomes a part of your heart and changes you in ways you couldn’t possibly have imagined. Take it from someone who has travelled and lived elsewhere – Brazil is a uniquely frustrating, overwhelming, humbling, and lasting experience that I can’t imagine having lived without.

But, life is never without challenges. For a foreigner, navigating Brazil can be difficult and frustrating. My hope is that this blog will help to serve as a small chip in the ice block in the way of finding your way and understanding Brazil. At the very least, I will share some of my own experiences here, in the case someone, somewhere can benefit from or be entertained by them!

Seja Bem-Vindo!

Beijos,

Jen

  1. Here’s a funny article written by a Brazilian for the “gringos” who travel to Brazil! http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/colunas/gregorioduvivier/2014/06/1466925-pardon-anything.shtml?fb_action_ids=10152888718986258&fb_action_types=og.recommends

cropped-ss.jpg