Learning Brazil

When I first arrived in Brazil, I assumed that the language barrier between my English and everyone else’s Portuguese was going to keep me in isolation until I learned enough vocabulary words to brave the Brazilian social world. Or that it’d keep me in the smaller world of English speaking missionaries. But I’ve learned something awesome about Brazil–they don’t let language be a barrier to friendship. It doesn’t matter if “Hello, how are you?” is as far as our conversation can go, they will still give me their phone number and tell me to call them if I need anything. I’ve been in this city for three weeks and I already have more than five families willing to take me to church. Half of those cannot speak English, but insist I call them if I need a ride to church. This is a whole new kind of friend making. I love it.

When my new roommate, Colleen, and I need small grocery items, we take a walk around our block to the local super market (Supermercado) or just right across the street to the convenience store. I swear, I go with every intention of practicing my Portuguese, but as soon as the shop keepers in any store hear me speaking English, they tell me they want to practice their English with me.

This is our friendly neighborhood convenience store located across the street from my apartment complex. The owner is very sweet and delivers clean drinking water to our apartment on a weekly basis.

These first several weeks on my own (and with my roommate Colleen) has been a lot of learning experiences. Even though we live in a modern town, there’s a lot of differences that stump us.

My roommate and fellow teacher, Colleen and I taking the bus downtown.

Some of these conundrums include…

Figuring out where all the buses go

Finding the right spices (spice names don’t translate very well from one language to the next) and trying not to confuse spices with red food coloring

Learning how to buy meat and chatting it up with the butcher who knows a little English

Discovering new kinds of breads and pastries at the neighborhood bread shop

Learning how to cook in an oven that only has 5 unspecified temperature settings (1 is apparently the hottest)

And learning how to wash and dry clothes

The learning experiences have been a blast. The more I learn, the more I feel at home in this budding city.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. island traveler
    Aug 25, 2012 @ 21:51:43

    Beautiful post. Traveling and meeting people is a rich and exciting event and makes you say, “I’ve learned something awesome about Brazil–they don’t let language be a barrier to friendship.”


  2. Jacki
    Aug 25, 2012 @ 22:02:06

    Thank you for the compliment. It certainly has been a rich experience. And I have several more months to experience here.


  3. cobbledtoolbox
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 01:31:17

    My husband’s from Rio and I remember the first time I visited it was definitely a welcomed culture shock.


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