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From California to Rio de Janeiro: The Tao of Me
05 January, 2012 10:40
My name is Peg. I was born in Fremont, CA, but have lived in five different states all across the US. Right now I live with my husband outside the city of Macaé in the State of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I followed my heart. My husband Brian and I had been dating long distance for two and a half years while he was working in Brazil and I was staying in Houston with my teenage kids. We only saw each other for a week or so every three months, which was obviously incredibly difficult. When he had a heart attack two years ago we laid in his hospital bed in Rio and finally made our plans to live on the same continent. Being apart had become too difficult and life is too short. Eight months later I left my job and moved to Brazil, and we got married three months after that. We ran away to the Caribbean the day after Christmas and eloped.
2. How do you make a living?
Brian’s job brings in enough money to pay the bills and gives me the luxury of time. I am a photographer and I’m starting down the road towards making some money with my camera. Brian is from Scotland, I am American, we live in Brazil and we love to travel. Because of the international life we lead I have some amazing opportunities to see the world and I bring my camera with me everywhere we go. We have started our own travel blog (http://akiltandacamera.com) which I get to fill with all of these photos, and I sell my prints online.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Just like every traveler and expat I know, I stalk all of my family and friends on Facebook and email. Skype has been a huge part of keeping in touch, especially with my kids. They fully support me and my life here in Brazil, and I miss them every single day. To be able to see their faces while we talk does wonders for this mom’s heart.
I go back to the states twice a year to spend a few months with them, and when I’m in Texas I use email, phone calls, text messages and Skype calls to keep in touch with Brian. We are well practiced at juggling time zones and scheduling our calls to make sure we speak to each other at least once a day.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Brazil?
I love how much I’ve learned. New scenery, a new language, a new way of doing everyday things, a new way to cook and some really fantastic new friends. I’ve had to learn how to adapt nearly everything I do because familiar foods and products aren’t available, and because the language makes me think in a different way.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Brazil?
Besides the obvious problem of always missing friends and family, I really get frustrated with the slow pace and bureaucracy of getting anything done in Brazil. For example, when Brian and I got married we had to submit my visa application paperwork three times with different requirements each time before my visa was approved, and it has taken a year and two attempts (so far) for my Brazilian ID card to be ready to pick up. I hear it might be ready in March. The next step is to try to get my driver’s license and I’m afraid to even start the process.
6. What do you miss most?
I’m lucky enough to fly home to the US twice a year to spend time with my nearly grown teenage kids. I miss them every day when I’m in Brazil, but spending time with them as often as I do is fantastic. When I come back from each trip I stock up my suitcase with all the peanut butter I can find.
I also miss the easy way everything works in the US. We forget how spoiled we are. Our society is a very organized one with back up plans and resources to turn to when something doesn’t work. We don’t have that in Brazil so I’ve had to learn how to “go with the flow” and be really flexible with our plans. We’ve also learned how great it is to have a good group of friends who can count on each other. It’s a good life, but it’s definitely been an eye opener.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Our first friends were Brian’s Brazilian co-workers. They and their families have welcomed both of us with open arms, which has been so good for us in so many ways. I also recently joined an expat group which meets in the city closest to us. I can take the bus over and spend time with this new group of friends while Brian is working. It’s the best of both worlds, really. We have been lucky to have friends from about ten different countries, including Brazil.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Brazil is so famously inefficient, and I am constantly amazed at the average person’s capacity to just accept it and work around it. There is very little direct confrontation. I’ve learned a lot about managing my own expectations and learning to slow down.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
The beaches are NOT topless.
10. What advice would you give other expats?
Keep your level of judgment to a minimum. Learn to see things with new eyes and learn as much about your new environment as you can. Don’t expect things to work the way they do at home, and learn at least a little bit of Portuguese!
11. When and why did you start your blog?
I started it nearly six years ago when my kids were still pre-teens and we lived in New Jersey. I had no idea what I was doing, but we moved around a lot back then and had some plans to travel so I wanted a way to let our family and friends know where we were and what we were up to. Life has thrown me some huge curves since then, but except for a break a few years ago I kept on writing.
12. How has the blog been beneficial?
Especially once I moved abroad, it has become a great way to connect with other expats. There is a sense of community and sharing that helps me feel like I’m not quite on my own out here, and my Mom especially loves to read about what in the world I’m up to now. Also, since Brian and I still spend several months a year on different continents, he can look in and see photos and read about what’s going on with me too. It’s another bit of communication besides all the emails, text messages, phone calls and Skype calls we already make.
Peg's blog, The Tao of Me
Find out more about being an expat in Brazil with Easy Expat's
Cutest couple ever!
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