Sunday, July 15, 2012

Exploiting only the GOOD LIFE

There are a decent number of expat blogs on Brazil although I have yet to find any from the South of Brazil specifically Parana, Santa Caterina, and Rio Grande De Sul.  I think it’s because there is less migration from the South of Brazil to the US so less marriages and moving.  My husband believes this is because the South of Brazil has a better standard of living so most people don't feel the need to escape their situation.  Finding these other blogs was great for someone like me who really needed to understand what I was getting myself into.  I remember when I find out I was moving there I was so happy to find these few blogs.  They have helped me so much.  I like hearing about people's experiences in life. BUT with some of the blogs when you find out their back story you feel kind of gypped.   In my opinion their experiences are not 100% authentic.

What I mean is this special set of expat bloggers are only staying in Brazil for a short period of time.   Its starts out with these expats living a comfortable 1st world life in the US that they never intend on downgrading.  Usually the husbands company has an international division that decides they need someone in Brazil to expand the business.  The company offers what is basically and all-expense paid extended vacation to the family.  The company pays for everything and helps with the relocation.  It’s always a major city such as Rio De Janeiro or Sao Paulo.  They pay for the shipping of their household goods, pay for their insurance (the good insurance) and its private so they can go to the best expat hospitals; the company gives them an allowance per month for housing, sometimes they get a company car, and other miscellaneous allowances.  They get all the benefits of their US company helping to guide them through this maze of foreign exchanges.   Then upon arrival they (usually the wife) set up a blog and talk about the trials and tribulations of living abroad.  They act as if they are living in the real Brazil.    When I find out their backstory I always feel disappointed.  I feel gypped.  How can you really be experiencing what it’s like to live in Brazil if you are on basically what I perceive to be an extended vacation?   These job assignments are almost always a couple of years so they know when they are leaving before they touch down on the tarmac.   To me that’s a wee bit of cheating, you’re not dealing with the reality I live in Brazil.  Its a company sponsored field trip.  You get to experience the best that Brazil has to offer.

Brazil is not going to become your reality and if you asked most of them they don't want Brazil to be their reality.   Isn't that an easier way of handling cultural and economic differences? How would these attitudes change if the person had to live there permanently or indefinitely?   In other words your not their for research, not there to pump up there resume's with glamorous foreign language and job experience, not there for backpacking and photography, not there for school, but really there to live.  Because maybe you’re married to a Brazilian man/woman who can't stay in the US or your husband/wife really wants to move home.  When you marry a foreigner you're marrying their country too, something I didn't realize at at the time.  

On the flip side most Brazilians who get a visa to the US have to prove they have assets. The American consulate is not a benevolent master.  You have to qualify for their lifestyle standards such as a good job in Brazil, a business, and a nice home something that will bring them back.  That knocks out about 80% of the population.  Ask any Brazilian of modest means visas to the US are hard to get.  Americans don't realize how easy life is for them.  Americans can basically go anywhere on the globe they want.  Poor in Brazil means something totally different than poor in America.  A lot of Brazilians live a really tough life.  I know all this first hand because I have met the poor Brazilians from areas such as Mines Gerais, Sao Paulo, Rio, and Amazonas.  A lot of them don't want to go back.  There are simply no opportunities for decent employment.  Most of them didn't even have cars before coming to the US, let alone laptops or IPhones.

I'm not trying to offend anyone I am just simply saying that I think when it comes to real life.  You have to really live it to give good advice.  I mean you can tell me how long the lines are and what it’s like at the grocery store, how the food is.  But you’re probably going to be more positive about the experience because it’s an adventure for you an exciting exotic long vacation.  

Like my Brazilian husband says "my people go to your country to wash toilets, wash dishes, pick fruit, and do hard labor; Your people come to my country to do the coveted jobs, or set up businesses exploiting the "best of my country."    "These are things most Brazilians don't get to experience Americans are spoiled you have the best of both worlds, and sometimes it pisses me off."

And to this I say isn't that in typical colonial fashion?


  1. The best way to discover a thing is by experiencing it. :-)

  2. Have you visited brazil yet? My husband is Brazilian and we almost moved to brazil (that's how I found your blog) like you I instantly started following expats in brazil. I found most blogs pretty honest. I also spent over a month on vacation there and a few weeks on another trip. My biggest fear was the language barrier, if you can conquer Portuguese life will be great. I spent over a month in Sao Paulo and some time in rio. I can honestly say I was never worried about safety. The time leading up to our trip to rio I was terrified. I bought leashes for my kids, left my jewelry at home etc... I felt so silly for listening to all the hype.

    1. Thanks for reading, no I have not gone there alghout now I wish I had. All my thoughts are from research, reading hundreds of posts, and my husband who is from there. I hope that all my fears are exaggerated they probably are. I want to love Brazil because unlike some folks I am moving there indefinitely and to be frank I don't want to. Which is somewhat the point of my post I want to go there temporarily and have a way out but I don't. That makes all the difference for me. I am going there for someone else and for economic reasons. I hope I like it so much that I don't mind. I will be keeping my fingers crossed.:)

  3. Theres no doubt it's gonna suck for a while lol, I wouldn't say we vacationed there when we stayed for a month and stayed at my mother in laws and after the first week the novelty wears off. The people really are extremely friendly. Ive never been to southern brazil so I'm not the best source of info. My best advice for you, start learning Portuguese NOW. That'll be your biggest hurdle and what will make life difficult. It's a beautiful country, and I think you will grow to love it. Try to keep a positive attitude and keep your mind open. And pack lots of peanut butter, syrup, and cereal lol. When are you guys planning on making the move?

  4. ^This is fucking true, haha. The language will be your biggest hurdle, specially if you are moving to a rural region. If you are moving to a capital, don't worry so much. You will do well with your work partners, with people with at least some education.

    But don't expect that the most of taxi drivers will understand when you say: "to the cinema, please". You should at least learn the basic Portuguese. Remember that, because of the high number of tourists here, we love accents, so don't worry if you can't speak the language perfectly.