From Sao Paulo to Arizona: Flavia's Weekly
Hi, my name is Flavia, people call me Fla or Flav. I'm originaly from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I'm living in Arizona, USA. I've been here since 2012. Married to a Brit with an American daughter.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I move abroad to study in Switzerland for 1 year. I always wanted to go back home and have a "normal" life, just like everyone else. It's been almost 20 years and I'm still living abroad, the normal life includes thinking about where could we move next.
2. How do you make a living?
For years I worked in the hospitality industry. I've always loved it. Through the years, I've been a stay-at-home mum, a real estate agent and now I work in a technology company, but I am starting my consulting business to help expats make the best of this unique opportunity.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I've retired skype and now use hangouts. It drives me crazy when it doesn't work, but then again, it's a free product and I can't complain too much. I also use whassup for quick text messages. With work, and a kid and everything else, we keep in touch as often as we can, twice a week or more.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat anywhere?
Learning new things all the time and being open to new cultures, new food, new friendships.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat anywhere?
Missing births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries... Notice that they all include: food, laughter, family, friends and partying.
6. What do you miss most?
Family, friends and food.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
It really depends on which phase you're living. When I went to university, it was so easy, then it's at work, and now with a daughter, at school, you get to meet a lot of the parents and become friends with a handful of them.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Brazil and the US have a lot in common (as my British husband likes to point out), but there are quite a few differences, such as, eating a lot of the food types with their hands. In Brazil we use knife and fork for basically everything. Here in Arizona, I see people walking around with guns all the time. It's been 3 years and I'm still not used to it. Also, a lot of people will walk out on the streets in their pajamas. In Brazil, unless things have changed a lot, you wouldn't see a teenage girl going down for breakfast in a hotel in pajamas, for example.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That americans are fake. I can see how for different cultures Americans may come across as being fake because, they actually talk to you and ask how you are and smile a lot. In many places around the world, you don't have people in stores or in businesses chatting or you don't go out of your way to help people, but in the US, people are genuinely happy to help and everyone asks how you are doing. I'm not saying people in other counties are rude, it's a bit hard to explain, so I'm not sure my answer came out very well. I just feel like Americans do get a bad rep, on that sense.
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?
Much lower. It has made a huge difference in our lives. It still took about 3 years for us to get back on our feet after moving to AZ, but living in London, then moving to AZ (and maybe almost anywhere in the world), we actually have a standard of living that wasn't possible in London. As an example, we paid $1600/month on after school care (about 1-2hrs on a woman's tiny flat with about 5 other children) and now we pay about $160/month or $16/month depending if she goes full time or not to after school care. In a facility with loads of activities for her to do.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Just do it, enjoy the time. There will be aches and pains, but soon enough you will be back home and it will all be a memory, so make it a good one.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I 've been blogging on and off since 2004, it was in Portuguese, all about my life in Northern VA, just a diary and a way to meet other Brazilians around. It turned out that I met some great people. Now I blog in English, it's a more structured blog, with of course my experience, as an expat, the good and the bad, but also more informative.
Flavia's blog, Flavia's Weekly
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