From Virginia to Niteroi - Expat Interview With C The Gringa

Published: 31 May at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Brazil
C is an American expat currently living in NiterĂ³i, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and writing a blog, Brasil! Pra mim... which is full of observations about moving to and living in Brazil. C blogs at Brasil! Pra mim... (see listing here)

Meet C - US Expat in Brazil
Meet C - US Expat in Brazil

Here's the interview with C...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from Virginia in the United States.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm living in Niteroi, Brazil, a city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived in Brazil for a little over a year. In terms of long term plans, I'm playing the cards as they're dealt. Ideally, I'll be here through the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

The hard life of sandals in Brazil
The hard life of sandals in Brazil
Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved because my girlfriend is Brazilian and she returned home for work reasons. I'm a freelance photographer and writer, so my work is wherever I am.

Did you bring family with you?
No but we added to our family when a little white cat literally climbed out of the gutter one day several months ago. After a vet visit, and shoots he joined us in the house.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It's been a journey. There are many ways in which it has been exciting but there are others in which it's been very lonely, especially being in a country with a different language than my native tongue. Also being in a different hemisphere, where Christmas is now in the summer, has been different experience. At times it feel like a cognitive disconnect and it was hard to communicate what I was feeling both to those where I'm from and new friends here.

But,strengthening new friendships here and meeting other expatriates has helped ease the transition a lot.

Monkeys in Niteroi
Monkeys in Niteroi
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I wouldn't say it was easy. I had to put in effort and seek out people at times.I am outside of the city, though. I imagine it's easier to meet other expats in the South Zone of Rio in places like Ipanema.

I try to socialize with as many locals as possible but sometimes the language barrier is problematic. My Portuguese is not at the level I had hoped it would be at this point.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There are so many things to do in Rio and the surrounding areas. More and more events are happening. The city is growing and there's an increase in activities. I feel it's a great time to be in and around Rio.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the food and find that the people are very friendly and helpful for the most part.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is extremely expensive.

Beach in Niteroi
Beach in Niteroi
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I don't know... there are drawbacks but I believe everything is what you make of it. I'm a big believer in the saying, "you find what you're looking for." So, if you choose to focus on the ugly, dirty, comparably subpar things, that is all you will see. There is bad here and there is good, just like everywhere else.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn Portuguese. Practice speaking with native speakers.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Honestly, I miss snow, fall and four seasons. The changing seasons, their cyclical nature, were more important to me than I realized. I miss a sense of a start, growth, decline, end and starting again. I miss the circle. Here the weather doesn't change that drastically. It's more like a bumpy line that goes on and on and on. It throws me off in ways.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I have no idea. I'm sure it will be strange.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Give the transition time.
  2. Make friends and put in the time to grow and strengthen those new bonds.
  3. If applicable, learn the language native to where you are. Language is key to communicating and understanding what's going on around you.
  4. Make friends with local people. If you only associate with other expats you might miss a lot of what is happening.
  5. Go easy on yourself. You will make mistakes. You will make a fool of yourself. There will be epic fails but you will be OK.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog, Brasil!Pra mim... I started before I left my last home in America in Richmond, VA. I had read so many blogs trying to prepare for my own move here and they were all so helpful. I knew I wasn't alone in this, in ways. So, I started my own blog because I wanted to, hopefully, pay it forward.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
They can contact me through my blog (see below) and my twitter @cthegringa.

C blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Brasil! Pra mim... has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview, please also drop a quick comment below.
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