Friday, April 3, 2015

8 Brazilian habits I lost when I moved to America

Culture habits and relationship dynamics are very particular to every country. Although moving abroad does not change us to the core, it does shape our behavior. Here I share with you few things that have slowly transformed me ever since I moved from Brazil:

Most important meal of the day
So long lunch! For the majority of Brazilians lunch is the heaviest and most complete meal. For Americans a sandwich or salad is a regular type of lunch, which is a fast solution for people to go back to their laptops as soon as possible. Surprisingly, it was a very smooth transition for me!

Most households in Brazil don't have a dishwasher. Cleaning up after a large family party is a lot of work. Here when friends ask to help after the party is over and I say "don't worry" they may not understand that I truly mean it!

Coffee time
I used to seat for a cup of coffee or frequent the office "cafe corners" and chat to people while sipping... No more! It became my on the go kind of drink, unless I'm having brunch or a dinner party - may I say special occasions?!

Waving at the server
I learned that is completely rude to wave your hands and yell a "hey" in order to get your waiter's attention - which is very acceptable in Brazil! Trust me you won't see it happening (if you do be sure to know they are foreigns too). Just wait or try eye contact while your server is passing by and drop a "excuse me..." in your normal voice.

Referring to the US as America!
As someone who came from South America, I grew up calling America the whole continent (North and South). But Americans usually call this country America and the whole continent "Americas". Even though I disagree with the term being used in politics and geography, it is a popular saying... And it comes out of my mouth naturally already!

My personal space
My sense of personal space completely changed. In Brazil people are used to talk very close to others, stand in line too close, drive close to other cars, bump into people on their way... In the US your personal space is the imaginary circle you can draw with the diameter of your arms length. Divide that by half to find out the Brazilian style!

If you can't attend a party or need to cancel a meeting, Brazilians expect and often ask for a reason why. Not in America! Nobody wants to hear your problems, a simple "sorry, I cant make it this time" works. Yes or No questions are easy answering for the same reason, people expect you to be to the point. Got it?

Time orientation
Most people are not time oriented in Brazil, it's our local culture. Go figure. I guess it's a lifestyle: anything can wait.. at least 30min? Meetings can last way more than the original plan. People complain when they wait for service but not usually feel bad making others wait for them. Prioritizing your own schedule is VERY disrespectful in the American etiquette. Truth to be said I have been always on time, but specially since I am here. It does bother some of my international friends sometimes, but sure never burned me bridges! In this country there is nothing fancy on being fashionable late. And I am finally okay in not allowing myself to waste time waiting.