Throughout this semester, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Nathaly – a student at Auburn University who is from Brazil. Talking to Nathaly was not only always a fun time, but was very informative as well. I had the opportunity to learn about her home country, and their culture and way of life. Needless to say, Sao Paulo is a little different from Auburn. What I learned about Brazil was so eye-opening, I’ve decided to create a list of five things you should know about Brazil and its culture.
1. If you’re hitting the town at 8 o’clock – you’re way too early!
Not only do they go out much later in Brazil, but meals are eaten at a later time as well. Nathaly recalled being shocked when her friends in Auburn told her to be at their house by 8 o’clock at night to go out, when in Brazil she’d start getting ready around that time! This is not too surprising, as Brazil is a polychronic culture, thus their conception of time is not as stressed as it is here in the United States. Coming from Miami, a city with a culture that has a heavy Latin influence, this was something I could relate to when I came to Auburn to as well!
2. If you aren’t eating well when you’re in Brazil, you’re just going to the wrong restaurants.
Of the many things Nathaly and I discussed, the most detailed conversations we had were about FOOD. Brazil boasts the most delectable cuisine: from their all-you-can-eat steak restaurants, to tasty desserts, to nutritious lunch buffets. Here’s a tip: skip the McDonald’s if you’re visiting Brazil and go for the authentic cuisine!
3. Setting schedules is a little different than in the United States.
In Nathaly’s school, she was taught 15 subjects at once. This meant for longer school days, and schedules that were set on a weekly basis rather than daily. In addition to long school days, some of her classes would require extra hours for lab or other activities later in the day. Because of how time consuming grade school was, Nathaly says it is very uncommon for younger students to have part-time jobs. I believe this can be linked to the difference of the individualistic, self-focused culture of the United States versus the collectivist, relationship-driven culture that many Latin American cultures, like Brazil, often have.
4. Brazilians are cleaner than us.
Not only am I pretty sure that most Brazilian’s have better hygiene than us, but their restaurants definitely get better health inspection grades. (I saw in this Buzzfeed video that Nathaly shared to her Facebook wall that Brazilian’s often shower multiple times a day). Nathaly also claims that one thing that she will never get over about restaurants in the United States is the use of carpets. Apparently, carpet flooring in restaurants in Brazil is virtually unheard of and is considered a sign of uncleanliness. This made me laugh because I had honestly never thought twice about restaurants with carpeting.
5. And if by any chance you run into my friend Nathaly, wish her congratulations!!
Nathaly recently got some awesome news! She was chosen to work for NBC this summer for the Summer Olympics in Rio! How cool is that?! I am BEYOND excited for her!
In the future, I plan to work in public relations and will definitely come across various cultures. If I happen to work with somebody from Brazil, I will keep in mind the things I learned from Nathaly. When communicating with people from polychronic cultures, I’ll remember the lack of emphasis on timeliness and how that could affect meetings as well as plans with friends. In addition, I’ll remember that Brazilians take their food seriously – but this is because it is deep rooted in their traditions and culture. Meals are a social time, and not rushed or on the run the way they tend to be in the United States. Learning about Brazil and getting to know Nathaly throughout this semester was an overall enlightening experience, and I am thankful that she was willing to give up some of her time to allow me to share parts of her culture and country!