Monday, 3 September 2012

Get in the right frame of mind

Get moving!
Moving countries...cities... neighbourhoods, can all be pretty daunting. I met a lady the other day who is just about to move to Chennai, India with her husband's work. She was pretty happy about moving there. I can imagine having curry every day is a pretty good draw, and there are lots of cultural links with the UK and maybe she might be just plain excited about moving somewhere new. I have to say I'm a little jealous. Not that I want to leave Sao Paulo anytime soon but I love the idea of the unknown.  The running joke for us, is that now that we've got our Permanent Residency, where should we move to next? We have limited options now because the girls will be of (serious) school age in a few years so let's see..

Get some perspective!
I actually wanted to write about all the naysayers; all those people who hate the idea of Sao Paulo before they've even stepped foot in the city. To be fair, GRU is not the best introduction let alone the taxi ride down the Marginal into the city. Crime, language, traffic, cost of things can also be thrown onto the list. I've met people here who have hated Sao Paulo so much it seeps into their every day life... I always wonder if they are only like this in Sao Paulo or will they just move back to their own city and find something else to complain about.

Get in the right frame of mind!
  • Make the effort to learn the language, seriously. Make some Brazilian friends. We went to our local bar almost every night and learned a lot of our Portuguese through talking to anyone and everyone. A few caipirinhas don't hurt either. We went on a 4 day holiday as soon as we arrived with 8 Brazilians and the entire weekend was in Portuguese - I didn't understand a thing.
  • Find a house / apartment close to work / school so you have some sanity in your life, i.e. traffic-free.
  • Adapt and use Brazilian products - I love Granada soaps, Arezzo shoes and Pao de Queijos!
  • Make the effort to get to know the city - check out different neighbourhoods every weekend. This big, dirty city has SO much to offer.
  • Get out to the beach as often as you can for a breath of fresh air. We're going for the third weekend in a row!
Every city has it's pro's and con's and I'm not saying that Sao Paulo is the best place in the world to live in but for right now, it works for us. Maybe I'm being biaised because I AM a city girl... put me in the countryside and I might be writing a completely different blog here : )


  1. Great advice! You are absolutely right. The city has so much to offer. I wish more people would see it this way too. I spent in SP only 3 weeks but I fell in love with it. Even though I am coming from smaller European city (even though it's the capital city of my country), I can say I am a city girl and I loved SP so much! It's so metropolitan and its dynamics and energy is just amazing... I cannot wait to be there again.

    Looking forward to read your next post!

  2. hi there :)
    i would like to say , i totally agree to what u say, but here is my take on SP.
    i used to live in Dubai and then Kuwait, now am in SP so big cities always has been a pleasure. but i am a bit struggling with making friends. my wife who is a Brazilian HATES sao pualo so much that its effecting me, and with my poor Portuguese its becoming hard to move around and start making friends. any suggestions ?

  3. I realised I forgot to add the most important thing - making friends in a new city. In all the cities we've lived in, its been friends that make our stay in each place so special. Maybe if you make new friends together she might start to enjoy going out to some (great) restaurants, or doing a day trip to the beach or going to mosey around an antique market....

    Internations has their 5th Anniversary event on this Friday. The reason I like Internations is because it's a mix of expats and Brazilians so you can learn/ practice your portuguese and find other couples who might be in a similar situation. Though be warned: not everyone is going to be your cup of tea but I think if you can walk away from a night out having met someone you would want to see again, it's worth it.

    good luck!