1. Happiness is Key
The energy of the people in this country truly amazes me. They seem to be happy and full of joy 24/7. The way Brazilians greet you, the way they go about their everyday lives with a warm smile, and their caring hearts is something that I love about this country. It makes me feel welcomed everyday that I am here. Easily I can say that Brazil has been the most welcoming country I have experienced thus far in my travels and for this reason I will definitely be back.
2. Patience is a virtue
Usually, I am used to a fast paced lifestyle in the United States. I go into a store and the lines go quick. If I need to get something done, I have people to give me quick answers. I pick up my iPhone anywhere at anytime, the internet works in seconds. I walk on the righthand side of the sidewalk everyone else walks on their righthand side of the sidewalk. If I have an appointment at 3:00 pm it will already have started at 2:55 pm. However, here in Brazil this is not how life works. It is all about taking your time to get things done. It does’t matter what it is, what you’re doing or where you’re going, you can take your time.
I will say this did take some adjusting to get used to but I have come a long way. I remember my first trip to Starbucks it ended up being a 40 minute experience waiting for just ONE coffee. Everyone who was ordering was either talking at the cash register about what they should drink, talking about how their days were going or simply wasting time on anything their minds could come up with. For me this was astonishing, I could not believe how slow people were in doing something as simple as ordering a coffee. After my first Brazilian Starbucks experience, I swore up and down I would never step foot into another Brazilian Starbucks again (which obviously did not happen). It didn’t take long for me to realize that Starbucks wasn’t the only place where this slow service was happening, it was everywhere. It is a way of life. People stroll down the streets, walk on the wrong side of the road creating congestion, show up an hour late for a meeting and so on and so forth. In my first months in Brazil, I couldn’t stand it. The slow pace of life was driving me up a wall. After the second month or so when I was fully settled in, it started to grow on me and by now I’m the one who is walking on the wrong side of the road, talking at the cash register and even showing up on my own time to personal meetings. I think that when I return to the states and ask for that first coffee, when the barista hands it to me in only a few minutes, I will hand it back and say “are you sure this is mine”?
3. Enjoy the small things in life
It’s a common saying to enjoy the small things but I have never really noticed myself doing so until now. I think the reason being is because here I don’t have unlimited access to my phone like I do in the United States and I also don’t have my car. I spend more time noticing things that I would most likely bypass if I were to be distracted by a phone or driving. Somedays I walk down the street and think how beautiful everything around me is. Simple things like the beaches, sunsets or laughter of children playing in a park put a smile on my face. For me this is something I want to continue to implement in my life after Brazil. I don’t want to forget the simplicities of life and becomd distracted 24/7. I want to continue to appreciate what I am surrounded by.
4. You don’t have to always follow the rules
Brazilians are very laid back about following the rules. If you get on a bus and don’t have the correct change, the driver will simply let it slide and allow you to ride for free. If a class starts at 11 and you’re there at 11:15, no one will say anything. If you don’t have the exact change in a taxi, it’s no problem, no one will make it a big deal. The list could go on and on. This is life here. No one frets over small matters and everyone bends the rules. I’m not saying it can work everywhere but it’s something unique about the Brazilian way of life.
5. Celebrate anything you can
Carnaval, birthdays, holidays, tuesdays, you name it and you can celebrate it. Sometimes I don’t even know what I am celebrating but I know I don’t have school so it’s a celebration. Brazilians love celebration and they can turn any occasion into a party.
6. Don’t stereotype
Before I came to Brazil, everyone looked at me as if I were crazy. People constantly said to me why do you want to go to South America?, Do you know how dangerous Brazil is?, You are going to get robbed, I hope you know what your in for, São Paulo is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. With all of that being said when I first came here I was a little worried. I walked down the street for about a month mean mugging everyone because I thought I was going to get robbed. I looked at everyone as if they were my enemy. My best friend Katherine even went to the extent of buying a knife proof backpack for school so that no one could cut her book bag open and steal all of her stuff. I now look back and laugh. Brazil has been nothing like what people tried to burn into my head. Of course there are places where you should stay aware of your surroundings but overall it’s like New York, theres bad parts of town but theres amazing parts too. This isn’t to say that bad things can’t happen but it’s more to say bad things can happen anywhere you go. Not only in the places that you stereotype them to happen.
After spending almost half a year in Brazil I’m happy to say that this country has taught me a lot about life through it’s beauty, culture and people. This experience has had an impact on my perceptions of life far more than I would have ever imagined. I’m very thankfully that this is the country I chose for my semester abroad and I definitely would not change my decision if I were to go back in time.
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