I remember switching schools my sophomore year of high school; I transferred from a large public school to a much smaller private school. At the time I was 15 years old, and definitely felt a little anxious about making the switch. Compared to the huge move Nathaly made though, my three mile difference feels insignificant.
Nathaly was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and lived there throughout her childhood. When she was 15 years old, Nathaly travelled across a few countries and began to call Peachtree City, Georgia home. (That’s over 4,500 miles away from Sao Paulo!) I first met Nathaly in a Spanish Literature class that I ended up dropping, so our interaction has been limited – although we do follow each other on various social media accounts. Upon first meeting Nathaly, one of the first things you notice is how relaxed and comfortable in her own skin she is. Other than a slight accent – which in no way interferes with the ability to understand her – it would be nearly impossible to tell that she was born in on a whole different continent. The way that Nathaly has taken the initiative to embrace American culture, especially Auburn’s, is astounding.
Nathaly is involved in various extracurricular activities around Auburn. On just about any given weekday, you can find her in the Eagle Eye TV office, as she is actively involved with that program. She also enjoys crossfit, and works for the Office of Communication and Marketing at Auburn University. When she first moved to Georgia, Nathaly was placed in tenth grade, even though by Brazil’s standards she technically should have been an eleventh grader. Looking back now, she says this was beneficial as she had a longer time to adjust before college and could focus primarily on learning English. In Peachtree City, Nathaly had Brazilian friends that helped her make the big move; but admits that when she came to Auburn she made an active effort to avoid Brazilians and speaking Portuguese in order to further her understanding of English.
While moving thousands of miles across the world transforms your life in numerous ways, Nathaly says the two biggest adjustments she faced when she moved to the United States were scheduling and food. I can’t say I was all that surprised, as Brazil is undoubtedly a polychronic culture, meaning promptness is not emphasized and schedules are likely to change. From making plans with friends to the times that restaurants close, Nathaly has had to make some lifestyle changes. In addition to having to work on her punctuality, Nathaly also had to start making compromises when it came to her
diet. In Brazil, like many other Latin American cultures, lunch is often the largest meal of the day and dinner is usually a lighter meal eaten at a much later time compared to the United States. When I asked what her favorite meal was, Nathaly grinned and described a Brazilian chicken stroganoff that she loved, but also mentioned that one of Brazil’s most common signature dishes is called “feijaoda.” When it comes to food in America, Nathaly says what surprised her most were the sizes. “A small soda here in the United States is the size of a large in Brazil, it’s crazy,” she said in astonishment.
Conversing with Nathaly taught me about not only various Brazilian customs and traditions, but also about our culture here in the United States and how it is often perceived by others. I hope to continue to expand my knowledge of not only Brazil, but different cultures from all over the world as we progress in our studies of international public relations. From the looks of it – we have a lot to learn!