Today I have an interview with an American Expat, Juan aka 10kjuan. He is the creator of the expat blog 10kjuan.com, world traveler, and is currently living in São Paulo, SP, Brazil. He discusses his journey to becoming an expat and what life is like in São Paulo. Enjoy!
How old are you?
Where are you from?
Born in Queens, NY, but my parents are from Spain and Ecuador.
Where are you living now?
São Paulo, Brazil
When did you first visit?
I cleared customs on April 17th 2011 and have been abusing them ever since.
Living in Miami from 1992-2009, I got a taste of Brazilian culture through friends, sports, food and festivals. As a result, I had an idea of what life would be like here, and it sounded like my kind of place. I also liked the challenge of learning Portuguese, given that I'd never really had to learn a language. Everything is happening here now too - the World Cup in 2014, the Olympics in 2016, UFC events, Lollapalooza, Rock in Rio... Even Miss Universe came here in 2011. It's the place to be, which in my mind meant there'd be plenty of opportunity to teach and write, which were my two goals coming in. Lastly, as a traveler, I've always wanted to explore South America, and I knew São Paulo would be a good hub to do just that. Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, Bogota - I've visited them all since arriving here.
How did you prepare for your trip?
Poorly. But that was part of the adventure. I booked a one-way flight using frequent flyer miles - with a 2-month layover in Ecuador - packed my passports, a fabricated proof of yellow fever vaccination form, my iToys and a backpack. I figured I'd sort out the rest when I arrived.
What was the reaction you received when you told people that you were going to Brazil?
Yeah. I didn't really tell that many people. I'm not a big fan of interventions, so thought I'd do my best to avoid one. Thinking back though, most people I did tell were fairly supportive given the fact that I didn't really have a plan.
What was your first impression when you landed in Rio or Sao Paulo?
The biggest one early on was definitely Brazilians' tendency to be non-committal, avoiding yes or no answers at all costs. You can ask a hungry Brazilian if he wants something to eat, perhaps at your house after you've had lunch and with plenty of leftovers, but they won't say yes unless you ask them 2 or 3 times. Sometimes you really have to insist. On the other hand, if you try and make plans with them and they can't go, or don't want to go, they won't say no. They'll say 'pode ser', which is sort of like 'it's possible'. They could have a big-time commitment that they already know about that conflicts with the plans, but they still won't say no. They think it's rude.
Where else have you gone in Brazil?
I'd have to say my favorite thing about Brazil is Brazilians. Every stereotype has its exception, but Brazilians really are cheerful and festive most of the time, and Paulistanos are pretty hospitable with foreigners.
Are we talking cities? If so, I have to include the disclaimer that I haven't been to too many places just yet, but despite trips to Iguaçu, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Morro de São Paulo and several other beaches, I have to stick to the big two of São Paulo and Rio.