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From London to São Paulo: The Book is on the Table

14 June, 2012 09:25  Erin Erin

book is on the table brazil Hi, I'm Andy and I'm originally from London, UK where I worked as a social worker. In February 2012 I moved to São Paulo, Brazil with my wife and I'm blogging about adjusting to life here. I'm getting used to it. Gradually....

1. Why did you move abroad?
It was a move that we had planned for while. I met my wife (who is from São Paulo) when I first went travelling around South America in 2007/08 and then she moved to the UK in 2009. However, she deferred her degree to do so and I always promised that we'd come back eventually so she could finish it.

Then, in February my job finished due to government cuts in the UK and it seemed the right time to go,  especially as the the Brazilian university term starts in February. It all worked out quite nicely in the end!

2. How do you make a living?
Well, because we had planned the move in advance we were fortunate enough to save a bit of money which means that at the moment I'm, well, bumming around!

Well, that's not strictly true. I'm studying Portuguese three days a week at a local university and I've also been amazed by how many job offers I've had in the short time that I've been here – Brazil is definitely a place where  you can get very far by who you know! For example,  at the moment my wife and I are writing the subtitles for a Brazilian TV program which has been sold to a network in the States. Very random!

Other than that, I've been offered jobs as an English Teacher, Barman, Recruitment Consultant and in promoting 5* Hotels. As I said, random.  

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Probably not as much as I should but I've never been very good at that. However, stuff like Skype, Facebook and Twitter make that process much easier than it would have been 20 years ago. Plus, people seem to be enjoying my blog and that is hopefully giving them a (light-hearted) impression of what I'm getting up to out here.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in São Paulo?
I think it's just having the opportunity to experience living somewhere completely different to the UK. I've always wanted to learn a language so that's another thing ticked off my list.

Oh, and of course the weather is a bit better than in the UK.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in São Paulo?
At the moment my Portuguese is still pretty basic although the lessons I'm taking are really helping. I'm at the stage now where I can understand a lot of what people are talking about but the problem is being able to respond. It's really frustrating but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

6. What do you miss most?

I have only been away for a few of months so the novelty of living somewhere new hasn't really worn off yet. However, I definitely miss people, especially my friends and family. I miss not being able to call one of them up to go for a pint on a Friday night or to watch football over Sunday lunch. Hmm. Yorkshire Puddings.

I guess there are little things too: British ale, Sunday newspapers and errr...Baked Beans!

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?

Enrolling at university has helped. I had contemplated doing private lessons but through doing the course I've met a lot of people from all around the world who seem to be in similar situations to me which helps.

My in-laws have also been fantastic. We currently live with my wife's parents and whilst they don't speak any English they have been very patient with my shoddy Portuguese! My sister-in-law's friends have also taken pity on me and I play football with them every Thursday.

The great thing about Brazilians though is that they are very hospitable and they genuinely go out of their way to make foreigners feel welcome. That's pretty cool.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Brazilians are far more expressive than us Brits and as a fairly reserved and quiet guy (c'mon I'm British!) it can be quite overwhelming but you get used to it.  And to be honest, it's quite refreshing that strangers think nothing of making conversation with each other on the Metro, etc. People barely make eye contact on the Tube in London.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That its an overtly dangerous country where you're likely to be mugged, killed, shot, etc if you visit. Sure, Brazil has its problems and you need to keep your wits about you but I'd say you need to do that in most places around the world. I know that I did in London.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Depends. São Paulo is very expensive place in relation to the rest of the Brazil, but obviously not on the scale of London – though it's massively not far off. Imported things like electronic goods are ridiculously expensive here so we just made sure we stocked up on everything we needed before we came.  

11. What advice would you give other expats?
If you're moving to Brazil then learn some Portuguese! Not many people speak English so it's really essential – if only I had listened to my own advice!
the book is on the table andy
12. When and why did you start your blog?
It was actually the suggestion of my wife and sister-in-law. They thought that some of my frustrations and thoughts when I had  when I first moved here were quite funny so they encouraged me to start writing them down and to post them as a blog. The reaction so far has been quite surprising but I'm just glad I'm not the only one who is being entertained by it. And as I said, it's also a way for people back home to have an idea of what I'm up to as well.

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