3 Positive and 3 Negative Aspects of Brazilian Culture

Being a fresh gringo to Brazil has given me some insights on the cultural differences between Brazil and the U.S. Some of cultural differences can lead to some problems. Take this story for example…

Being new to Brazil I was trying hard to make Brazilian friends and get integrated into Brazilian culture. After a few weeks of living in Brazil, I was finally invited to my first party and I was really excited!

This was a great opportunity for me to make some friends, practice my Portuguese, and see how Brazilians party.

E-livro de graça: 101 Palavras que você não vai aprender na escola

 Read What do Gringos Really Think About Brazil?  |  leia este texto em português

One of my English students wanted to have a class on Sunday morning, but because I really wanted to have a good time at the party, I told him I wouldn’t be able to teach him that day, even though I could’ve really used the money.

When the day finally came, I was so excited I couldn’t think about anything else. I was told the party started at 9pm, but I arrived a little late, at about 9:15. I walked up to the door and I could see through the window that there was a family having dinner…

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know the person who’s house it was! I called my friend that invited me to the party but he didn’t answer his phone. I thought maybe the party had been cancelled…

I waited around for awhile for my friend to return my call, but eventually I just went back home, defeated.

I decided to just watch a movie and forget about the party.

At about 1am I awoke from the sound of my phone. The friend who had invited me to the party was calling. I picked up the phone and he told me the party was awesome and asked me why I wasn’t there…

Little did I know that Brazilians have a different concept about time. It was too bad that I missed out on the party because I wasn’t used to Brazilian culture. But I sure learned my lesson…

The Good and Bad of Brazilian Culture

I’ve been living in Brazil for almost four months now which has given me plenty of time to notice some differences in the culture here, and compare it to the United States, where I was born and raised.

The main reason this article was written was so that our Brazilian readers can see how their behaviors are being interpreted by a foreigner and to give them another perspective on their habits and ways of life..

When you’re inside your own culture, it’s sometimes difficult to distance yourself enough to certain things that may be obvious to a foreigner, simply because everyone around you is doing it.

So when you have an outsider come in, they can tell you things about your culture that you may have never thought of. But even if you have thought of it, maybe the foreigner (me!) can give you a different perspective on it.

You may not agree with everything that this article says, and that’s okay, but I recommend that you be open to what someone from another culture has to say about the Brazilian way of life.

So without further ado, let’s start with the positive aspects of Brazilian culture.

The Good 

1. Brazilians are Patient

Unlike the USA, which is obsessed with efficiency and getting as much done as they possibly can, Brazilians are generally in less of a hurry. They don’t seem to get as stressed out about the little things like Americans.

Patient people are much more enjoyable to be around than people who aren’t. They tend to take pleasure in the little things in life, and are also less likely to get sick.

In other words, Brazilians are more likely to stop and smell the roses.

2. Brazilians are Warm and Accepting

I often hear how warm Brazilians are to people they don’t know. There are many examples of this, but I want to talk about something you may not be aware of…

One of the first things that I noticed when arriving here from the United States, was how much more comfortable people here are with holding eye contact.

Many Americans are very uncomfortable with holding eye contact; on the street, hardly anyone looks into anyone else’s eyes. And if you do make eye contact, it only lasts a brief second.

When you don’t hold eye contact with strangers, it makes you much harder to approach and start a conversation with. Also, when someone is uncomfortable holding eye contact, it’s usually because they are insecure, have anxiety, or are nervous.

Brazilians tend to be more comfortable in their own skin (. People are much more comfortable holding eye contact and the more you look into someone’s eyes, the quicker you two will connect with each other.

Just from this simple fact alone, Brazilians appear to be more warm and inviting.

3. Brazilian Culture is Less Individualistic, and More Social

Both individualistic and social cultures have their positive and negative aspects.

Individual cultures can leave people feeling isolated and disconnected from the world, while social cultures can lead to conformity and lack of free-thinking.

Individual cultures produce people who think critically, embrace their unique gifts and perspectives, and strongly believe in their ability to succeed. Social cultures tend to produce people who are very comfortable in social situations and feel a sense of community with people and nature. This includes strong family values which creates families that are very close and happy together.

As was mentioned above, although both cultures have their positive and negative characteristics, they compliment each other extremely well.

So whether you were raised in a social or individualistic culture, you’ve likely gotten most of the benefits you’re going to get from it. However, spending time in a different culture than that which you were raised in can lead to rapid growth.

So this section has two messages: one is that Brazil is a great country for Americans to go to and two, America would be a great country for Brazilians to go to.

And now that you feel good from reading the positives, let’s check out the bad stuff stuff Brazilians can improve on…

The Bad

1. Brazilians are Sensitive to How Foreigners Perceive Their Country

 

For some reason, Brazilians are very concerned with how other people perceive their country. For more info, check out the article Gringo Stereotypes, What Do We Really Think?

I’ve met numerous people who don’t like carnaval because it gives Brazil a bad image.

On one hand they’ll talk bad about the government and the negative aspects of Brazilian culture, and then they’ll get upset and defensive when they hear a foreigner say the exact same thing. Do you ever do this?

We had a poll on the Real Life English Facebook Community about how Brazilians thought foreigners perceived their country and almost EVERYONE had bad things to say. There were maybe one or two responses out of X amount that were actually a positive image.

Why do you think people think badly of Brazil? In my experience, it’s been the exact opposite.

I think this attitude has a lot to do with Brazil’s social culture. Brazilians can be very attached to the image of Brazil as if it was their own self.

I don’t notice this attitude in America at all. When foreigners criticize America, many Americans are quick to agree.

But on the other hand, some Americans are so self-centered that they don’t even allow the viewpoints of the people of other countries to even enter their awareness. They just think America is the greatest, and that’s that.

For example, when Americans criticize America, a stereotypical response is, “If you don’t like America, you can just get out.”

But on the other hand, being passionate about your country and actually caring about it are very good things.

2. Brazilians Don’t CORRECT People on Their Portuguese

As a Portuguese learner, I find it very unhelpful how Brazilians tend to not correct gringos on their Portuguese.

Sure, you don’t want to correct everything that someone is saying, but when you hear someone say something wrong, use a phrase that no one really says, or mispronounces something, correct them. Just because you know what they were trying to say, doesn’t mean everyone else will.

When you don’t correct someone’s Portuguese, you’re preventing them from becoming a more fluent speaker, you’re slowing down their growth.

Maybe the reason Portuguese is “a hard language to learn” is because Brazilians aren’t helping foreigners learn it!

I know Brazilians are just being polite and are very conscious of hurting people’s feelings. They don’t want to seem like a know-it-all or like they’re being condescending for correcting the person they’re talking to.

But don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings. Most people like to be corrected because they want to know how to speak the language correctly. You don’t have to be in a class to correct someone’s mistakes.

When correcting someone, just make sure to say it in a nice way. For example, if my English student was to say, “I never been to the United States,” I would correct them by saying, “Oh, so you HAVE never been to the United States?” Then they can correct themselves by saying, “Yes, I have never been to the United States.” This doesn’t interrupt the natural flow of conversation.

Another way you can correct someone is if you notice them mispronouncing or using a word that is uncommonly used, you can make a mental note of it and just wait until there’s a lull in the conversation to bring it up.

English speakers are very well known for correcting other people’s English, even other natives! Often on the internet, people can get a little out of control with correcting people’s grammar and spelling (known as grammar nazis).

So please correct people on their Portuguese!

3. Brazilians are Habitually Late/Flakey

Brazilians just don’t really seem to care about doing what they say they’re going to do when it comes to time.

As an American, if you say you’re going to be at my house at 8:00, then I expect you to be at my house at 8:00, not 8:30. This was the problem I talked about at the beginning of the article.

Now you may look at this as just an American too stressed and in a hurry, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, why don’t you care about doing what you say you’re going to do? Because it’s common in your culture is just an excuse.

If you don’t know when you’re going to arrive, then SAY that. And if you don’t know if you’re going to show up, communicate that too.

Obviously, sometimes things happen that are out of your control. You’re not going to be on time 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be late 100% of the time either.

From the point of view of other cultures, being habitually late communicates you don’t respect my time.

Again, I’m not addressing the issue of “why does it matter if I’m a little late.” No, it’s about doing what you say you’re going to do. It’s about having integrity.

However, I understand that because Brazilians have a flexible time frame, they tend to be more patient, relaxed, and live in the moment.

Conclusion

Don’t take this article the wrong way. Brazil is one of my favorite countries in the world, which is why I’m living here right now. It’s out of love for Brazil culture that I wrote this article.

But if there’s one thing you could take away from the article let it be this: correct people on their Portuguese! Remember, one of the reasons Portuguese “is such a hard language to learn,” is because Brazilians don’t correct foreigners trying to speak it! 😉

Stay classy, Brazil.

More Recommended Articles on Brazil

Return from 3 Positive and 3 Negative  Aspects of Brazilian Culture to Cultural Reflections

  • Luiz Geronimo

    I agree with you.

  • Agnaldo Genova

    Most of the brazilian people are envious, competitive one another, the people are like “show of”, snobs, for example: whether I have one good car, or I have traveled to one different country like Paris, Italy, whatever, or even whether I´ve lived in the USA (The majority of Brazilian people actually love the USA but don´t assume that cuz everything in USA is much better than here like infra-structure, politicians, healty, life quality…) I feel myself better and superior than others. The people from my country, unfortunatly, don´t care about the many problems that there is here, in other words, in my humble opinion, the people are concern just about soccer game, with the last chapter of soap opera, in short, I would like that the people from Brazil were different in some important topics. The people are supposed to be more patriots and change everything here. I hate to drive here cuz there is a lot of people no mannered, and in my opinion the brazilian people are so violent people. Since I´ve arrived from US, I don´t watch television because there is people dying in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening… I´m so sad about it. When I say about my thoughts from the people from my country, everybody complain with me, and when the people starts to fight with me, I only argument with them: Oh really? You know how to sing the Corinthians, Flamengo, São Paulo soccer anthem? And how about the Brazil´s anthem? Have u ever tryed to learn how to sing that?

  • C

    I noticed the late arrival times, when friends who were Brazilians would tell me to meet them at a bar , after work, then show up 2 hours later. They would just say, that’s how we are. I realize we- Americans- are sticklers with time, and it was hard trying to explain to my friends , the BRazilians are not blowing us off, they just take their time with things. My solution was to tell them to meet me 2 hours earlier than I really planned, and it seemed to work out fine.

    I also play gaves with Brazilians and help them with their English. I assumed they learned it in schools, but, another one of them told me a few of his friends learned English from ME. I was kinda shocked, because his English is very good, and I had no idea I was teaching him. I would simply correct their English when they tried to talk, and I didn’t judge them as they spoke, sometimes in broken English. I do not judge people on things like this. On the streets, in the US, when someone speaks Spanish to me, or broken English, I will not try to correct them in an open way. I will simply repeat their sentence in the correct manner – in case they get insulted- then try to answer them in simple words, especially if they appear to be struggling. I am now going to start learning Portugues from them and I will make a point of forcing them to correct me. I didn’t really know they found correcting people on Portugues, because they were worried about hurting their feelings.

    I am aware that we -Americans- can come off as pushy to foreigners in America and overseas in their lands. I guess it’s our cultural to try to offer efficient solutions to thing, and will make a note of not doing that in our American way

    I also did notice Brazilians will complain about their country and get angry if you agree with something in what I consider completely minor. I never had a problem when a foreigner was angrily talking about things in America which bothered him. Instead of getting mad, I simply would try to put it in perspective. I would explain our political ideology and how things work, without trying to insult their intelligence. Most Americans are like this, but, you know as well as I, we do have some of the “Why are you here if you don’t like it?” people. Every country does.

    I think Brazil is a great country and would like to see them succeed. I have had 2 chances to their country, which unfortunately, fell through. I am determined to do so, even if there are things which will be, perhaps, annoying to me.

  • Vanderson

    Hi, my name is Vanderson. I’m Brazilian. Look, I liked your text, and all you told is true. I’d just want to clarify some things: yes, you told the truth, Brazilian doesn’t endure to hear to talk barely about Brazil. Although he make jokes with other people, like Portugueses and Argentines. Moreover, Brazilian is one of the less patriotic people, ironically. But it happens largely because Brazilians have like a “inferiority complex” with respect to their own country. They tends to think that practically any country is better than Brazil, in many senses. Then he speaks ill of Brazil, but he doesn’t want that another people do the same. And the second reason is because many stereotypes about Brazil, besides being very distorted, sound really offensive, like, for example, Brazil be a jungle cover to cover, replete of monkeys on the streets (what is lie), and a land of prostitutes and naked women. These and another bad stereotypes can be saw on the Simpson’s episode in which they come to Brazil.

  • I`m Brazilian and I`m living in the USA right now. In Seattle, to be more specific. I’m thinking about what you’ve written, regarding the fact that Brazilians don’t correct other people’s Portuguese. I’ve noticed that here people are not ashamed to correct my English when they feel it’s necessary, even people who are not my friends and teachers. I try to understand that it’s a cultural thing, but I can’t help but feel embarrassed and self-conscious whenever they do that. It’s like all the time and effort I spent learning is not enough, because I will never speak like them. I know that many of these people have good intentions, but it’s hard to get used to this way of thinking.

  • Hey Camila, thanks for the response. You’re right, it’s just a cultural difference. We’re correcting you because we want to help. Don’t worry native speakers do it to each other, too. :^)

  • Casinha

    Hi Trevor,

    I’m Brazilian and I will give you a little hint: Whenever you are talking with some brazilians, you can say to them, please correct me when I’m wrong. That’s what I do when I’m with my foreign friends. Because as many people don’t feel comfortable if someone correct them in front of others, brazilians can think the same way with you. I’ve met lot of brazilians who don’t feel comfortable or simple don’t like when someone else correct them, but this of course, depends of the situation.

  • Larissa

    So, just a little comment about the “Correct people on their Portuguese”: The thing is that here in Brazil there´s a lot of different accents and slang. You´ll easily find people who speak the same word differently. That´s not to mention that sometimes something is grammatically incorrect, but to us it already become a slang of some sorts. When I was helping my neighbor´s niece learning portuguese she would often say things like ” But I learn in class that way. It´s not all right?” And I would tried to explain the slang to her or I would say that´s because she first started having class in another state, and here we don´t talk like that.
    And about the “Brazilians are habitually late” oh yes we are. I´m actually the opposite though, I tend do be extremely punctual. I just don´t like the idea of making someone wait or something. On another hand, when I invite my friends to somewhere/something I tend to always give the wrong time. Like, I will tell them that the party is at 8, but I will expect people to start coming 8:30 , at the very least.

  • everton

    cara sou brasileiro e posso lhe afirmar que que suas espectativas sobre o brasil estao todas corretas e que nos gostamos muito da cultura americana e um dia irei fazer um curso para pegar fluencia em ingles

    • Justin

      Hey Ana, Thanks for the comment. I’m curious what are the odd cultural aspects about dutch culture?

    • Justin

      Awesome to hear your perspective Bernard. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment!

  • Fahed

    Hello everybody!!

    I intend to move to Brazil, and this is a hard decision.
    So can anybody please advise me about this step.

    Many thanks

  • luisa

    I would say portuguese is a really hard languege to learn because we don’t corret the grammar, but because its has a lot of rules exeption and anomalies! As a native speaker I’ve had my gramamr correted all my life and i still make some pretty bad mistakes, and its not unnusual to find my friends and I discussin if it’s correct to use that verb in this form.
    Also I do usually corrent my friends grammar, but not other people since depending were you are from Brasil the way of speaking is really different and you don’t want to be rude by saying “the portuguese of my region is more correct then yours”

  • Rose Souza

    Parabéns pelo artigo, realmente tudo o que foi dito está certo e de fato o português é um língua muito difícil de aprender, até mesmo muitos brasileiros não sabem escrever e falar corretamente como deveriam.

  • Thank you ! Loved your article
    Learning portuguese to help Brazillians in my city .i am a volenter .this was helpful information you wrote it well very positive well done ! Obrigada

  • James D. da Silva

    Verdade, tudo o que disse! =) Seja muito feliz aqui! Forte abraço!

  • Elizabete

    É verdade o que você disse sim, e que bom que estamos entre seus favoritos! Vou prestar mais atenção…e tentar melhorar….beijos! 🙂

  • Sérgio H. L. Cabral

    Legal, meu caro. Os três defeitos nossos foram muito “light”. Sugiro que você note como o brasileiro se comporta em público e verás que saímos da idade da pedra. No trânsito, é um auge ! Nos supermercados, sãos uns ogros. Param o carrinho (cart) de um lado e olham para o outro, bloqueando totalmente a passagem. E, pior, se zangam se você pede licença…Também são “viciados” em novelas , pois fofoca da vida alheia muito lhes interessa…Valeu !!

  • po_si_ti_vi_da_de_

    Regarding the Portuguese correction issue, I think this is quite common everywhere. When I lived in Australia, people did not use to correct my English mistakes and when I lived in Beijing, they also did not like to correct the many wrong words I said in Chinese. Even though I could learn both languages correctly. Therefore, this is not a bad issue of Brazil. In fact, the bad issues are manyyy others.

  • Tayane Salgado

    Hi Trevor! I’m a native brazilian and I agree with do you said . So, sorry if we dont correct yours,Foreigners! Because we dont worry with words.
    Also, we dont need to hear own problems that we know. Not will be change.

  • Mark

    we dont correct gringos’ portuguese because we do not care if they speak right or wrong, it’s okay if we understand, even some of us speak wrong. just know that sometimes even our president speaks wrong. haha

    • BKK

      This is what I appreciate about Brazilians. And how they try to speak your language to help if you get stuck when speaking Portuguese. I worked there and when Spanish speaking associates would come, who didn’t even try to speak Portuguese,Brazilians always used any Spanish they knew to communicate with them.

  • Review Geral

    Sou brasileiro, na verdade concordo com tudo oque você disse. Aqui no Brasil as pessoas costumam atrasar-se sempre para tudo e é por isso que na maioria das empresas e escolas há uma certa tolerância de atraso. Nós brasileiros odiamos as leis que não funcionam por aqui, nós costumamos dizer que o problema do Brasil são os brasileiros, embora seja um povo bastante receptivo principalmente no interior dos estados. O grande erro do brasileiro é achar que existe somente o Rio de Janeiro como ponto turístico sendo que a costa de nosso país é enorme. Muitos brasileiros amam os EUA porque é possível ter uma vida de luxo sendo pobre já aqui no Brasil quem os dominam são os milionários, como exemplo, eu sou do interior de SP e nunca pude ir ao Rio de Janeiro mal conheço meu país por ser pobre e se não conseguir me tornar rico ao longo da vida dificilmente poderei usufruir das belezas que o meu país possue. Uma grande parte do povo brasileiro se tiver 10 reais a mais que outra logo passará a se sentir rico e tentará diminuir o outro, isto de fato acontece porque se você for pobre os poucos amigos que tem corre um grande risco de serem todos falsos ao contrários dos ricos que tem tudo que querem e que são cada vez mais ricos.

  • luana

    parece que só tem brasileiro aqui hahaha

  • luana

    nossa nem vou escrever em inglês… estava lendo os comentários e boa parte de vcs que leram e comentaram são brasileiros. só pelos nomes já da pra sacar ahahha bjs galera

  • Anna

    I’m Brazilian and I’ve been living in the UK for a few months and I really miss someone to correct my English mistakes here. Regarding this point, British people seem to be worse than Brazilians because sometimes they pretend they’ve heard something and then answer the question (while I had asked a diffferent question) just to avoid asking us to repeat what we’ve just said. Or when we just don’t understand what they say and ask them to repeat or slow down, they’re not patient and may say ‘forget about it’/’never mind’. Even though of living here for a few months, I haven’t got any local friend, I usually go to the university and come back home without talking to any local etc etc. So, I think that Brazil is a nice place to live if you want to learn Portuguese, you may also say to the person that you aprecciate if she/he corrects your mistakes, I’m sure it won’t sound weird (as it would sound here in the UK). Can’t wait to go back to my lovely country where people like each other and are truly polite 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Anna. It’s really nice to hear your perspective in another country. Those are excellent aspects of the Brazilian culture. Thanks again for reading and sharing!

  • Karla Leite

    The positive aspects of individualism are among the things I like the most about American culture. I think it’s inspiring. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing, Karla! That is a nice part about the US. I love the warmth of the Brazilian people!

  • Alysson Primor

    Thank you for sharing your perceptions about our culture Trevor. I can observe the aspects you mentioned in here daily and I must admit that, just like you, I always get pissed off with the fact that people tend to get late. I know it is a cultural aspect, but I greatly dislike it, since I do not act that way myself. About correcting people, that is something I really see as being impolite. I have some foreigner friends that I never correct, unless I cannot understand what they are trying to say. In fact, spoken Portuguese is very different on the different regions of our country. Very few Brazilians have a good command of the standard language, although they comprehend it. I am attending a Portuguese Language course at University currently, so I tend to take into consideration and appreciate every time of communication. What matters, is to communicate and, to be honest, I feel that when a foreigner speaks Portuguese with a perfect Brazilian accent, somethings seems out of place. We want foreigners to do mistakes. If they didn’t, how could we make jokes about it? We tend to joke about everything. That does not means we do not like you or anything, it is just that we find it fun! So, if you want to improve your Portuguese, you can always study grammar books, but that kind of Portuguese will look artificial because people do not use it on the streets, it only exists on its written form. I am not sure which places you have visit in here but, if you really want to know more about the culture, you would have to travel throughout all of the country. I live in the southern part and, truth be told, our culture, in general, VERY different from the one from the northern regions. Again, thank you for sharing and please, do not mind your Portuguese. We like to hear people from the USA using the verb tenses wrongly. I understand the way they are flexed in English is a lot easier than the way it is in Portuguese. We will always forgive you! Just be a kind person and people will like you, it does not matter where you came from. After all, in some way, Brazilians are all half breeds and we usually like to talk about differences between our culture and the one from other countries. It is captivating! Have a great day!

    • Real Life English

      Awesome comment Alysson, and congrats on your Enlgish. It’s people like you that make Brazil really hospitable for us gringos! take care.

  • Vitória

    I don’t know in which part of brazil are you living at, but the reason why we don’t correct the fluence of foreigns here it’s because most of Brazil speaks the same words with different phonemes. And it’s not a thing of one or two words that you can say in a slign different way front one state to another, it is a thing of saying 3 or 5 letters or syllables different from one CITY to another. I just need to get in a car and drive during 6 hours(And some citys here driving during this time you don’t even get out of it) to find people talking completaly different from me. So no, I won’t correct someone when they pronunce something that sounds wrong to my hears, cause I always presume it’s just a accent from a city that I haven’t been yet. (Don’t know if the grammar is confusing or not, sorry if it is)

    • Real Life English

      Thanks for your comment and insight Vitória!

  • Laura Barros Faganello

    I’m Brazilian and I will give my opinion about these topics.
    1. Brazilians are Patient: I’m not patient, but here most of people are. Here when someone ofend someone, we say that he is non-patient.
    *sorry, my english is not very good
    2- Brazilians are Warm and Accepting: Yes! And we think that it is a good way to have a healthy and happy life.
    3. Brazilian Culture is Less Individualistic, and More Social: is it wrong? I think that’s normal and better to our life.
    Brazilians are Sensitive to How Foreigners Perceive Their Country: Yes, and that’s why i’m reading it. I confess I really don’t now why are we sensitive about it…
    Brazilians Don’t CORRECT People on Their Portuguese: it depends of your social class. It’s difficult for me to explain it in only a few words.

    Brazilians are Habitually Late/Flakey: it’s frequent, but a lot of people are ponctually.

    • Real Life English

      Thanks for sharing Laura!

    • Hey Laura, you are spot on! Thanks for reading and offering your perspective!

  • Faria Marlene

    Hi I’m Brazilian living in America for 30 years, I’ve never had one person here trying to correct my broken English, sorry to say that but I had more people making fun of me and calling me stupid than anything else. Many times even ignored me when they hear my accent. We Brazilians don’t correct anything on other people’s because (in our culture it’s impolite to do that ) we don’t feel good inside, we feel like we are offending the person. Maybe u want to be corrected because u are a English teacher, but not everyone like it. Another thing we only see the good and bad things from other cultures when we are not from there, Any countries have bad and good things when it comes from someone’s else eyes, but people from there think it’s normal, we are all raised differently. You can say that something is bad, but for us it’s not. I can see the way American people live and if I compare with the way I was raised, I find so many bad and good but i don’t see as bad. We’re all different and unique. We all love to learn new languages, cultures, different food. We are Brazilians, we don’t want to be American, the Chineses don’t want to be American. If it’s bad or not ,we’re all proud to be who we are.

    • Awesome insights. Thanks so much for reading and sharing with us Faria! By the way, I think you’ll enjoy this article too! http://reallifeglobal.com/gringo-stereotypes-for-brazil-what-do-we-really-think/

      -Justin

    • Hey Faria, Thanks for your input and sorry to hear about your negative experience with not being corrected (and also being ignored). First of all, I’m curious, where do you live in the U.S.? And great insight about the bad and the good parts of all cultures. I didn’t write this article, and I would agree that there’s no point in discounting an entire culture, but I think as individual learners part of the process is expanding our cultural lens to include other ways of thinking, and I think maybe one of these is to speak English without the fear of making mistakes (and embracing the feedback of other people). So maybe this can be applied on both sides of the coin (speaker and listener). Hey here’s another article you might appreciate on Gringo Stereotypes for Brazil– http://reallifeglobal.com/gringo-stereotypes-for-brazil-what-do-we-really-think/ Thanks again for reading and offering your thoughts!

  • Angela

    I have some Brazilian friends who say they would feel bad to interrupt or say no or to tell the full truth. I wonder: is this just their personalities, or if it’s part of the Brazilian culture? I’d love to know your perspective.

    • Yeah good insight, Angela. I would say it’s a mixture of personality and the Brazilian culture. Just like with Americans, there are certain cultural traits that tend to show up depending on where somebody find’s themselves along the spectrum of their personality!

  • Cristy Helen

    Nossa! Tudo verdade! Sou brasileira e achei este artigo justamente porque fui ao Google pesquisar “Brazil” para saber qual imagem teriam os gringos quando buscassem sobre meu país na internet, o que só reforça o que você disse sobre nós. E realmente ficamos muito bravos quando alguém fala mal do Brasil, especialmente se esta pessoa não for brasileira… eu inclusive já estava chateada com você antes de ler a matéria achando que falaria do Carnaval, futebol e samba, pois não é só isso que temos a oferecer. Que bom que eu estava errada. É isso 🙂

    • Cristy Helen

      E nós não corrigimos os gringos justamente porque conseguimos entendê-los e eu, particularmente, tenho vergonha, mas gosto quando me corrigem. Eu tenho uma curiosidade: vocês entendem perfeitamente quando nós falamos inglês mesmo que pronunciando algo errado? É tipo como um sotaque gringo?

  • You are being way too nice. 🙂

    I’ve been living in Brazil for the last 15 years (I’m 46 now), but I’m not from the USA. I’m Dutch. I have to say it takes at least 7 years before your views on the country you migrated to start to become unbiased by your own culture. The first few years you see the country as more beautiful than it is and you consider your own views wrong because you are a gringo. Then a couple of years come where you see everything more negative than they really are. After about 7 years you’ve become integrated enough to lose this either too positive or too negative view and just see it as it is.

    You mentioned you wrote this to show brazilians a foreigners point of view, which I thought was naive. But you wrote this after only 4 months of living here, so it’s ok. See, the one culture you will learn the most about isn’t the Brazilian culture. In my experience, when you move to another country, the culture you will learn the most about is your own. The cultural differences will point out all the flaws, and good things, of your own culture. It takes years before you really start to get the brazilian culture and even then, you’ll never get it as if it’s your own. But your understanding and awareness of your own culture will get way better.

    Now on to Brazil and Brazilians….. Ever wondered why Brazil is a third world country? Actually I should say: Developing country because within the name “third world” underdeveloped countries are included as well, and Brazil definitely is not underdeveloped. But it isn’t developed like a first world country either…. but why is that?

    I’ve thought a lot about that question because it isn’t easy to answer. Brazilians often, if they are willing to talk about it, blame the government, and if they´re a bit more educated, may go towards the idea that they used to be a colony and that portugal stole all their wealth…… But they conveniently ignore the fact that Portugal is one of the porest countries in Europe, which should show that wealth isn’t a cause for success, but more a result of it.

    The real underlying factors of Brazil being a third world country is, and now I am getting to the subject of your article,….. their culture.

    The good things you mentioned about Brazilian culture are all related to: Personal relationships.

    The bad things you mentioned about Brazilian culture are related to: How to maintain personal relationships good.

    Personal relationships are important in Brazil. When you say that it feels like that in places like the USA and the Netherlands, personal relationships are not important. But that’s not true. Personal relationships are important everywhere. There is nothing wrong with personal relationships.

    Now let’s look at your list of bad things.

    All 3 points you mentioned are related to: Do nothing that make the other feel bad. Don’t talk bad about anything that matters to the other, like their country, their mistakes in portuguese, or that they´re late. It’s considered rude behaviour here. It is, and here we come to a fundamental problem in Brazilian culture,… it is better to lie in order to be polite than to just be honest.

    On it self, litle white lies usually are good for personal relationships. But in Brazil, the concept of little while lies,… doesn’t exist. Brazilians prefer to just not mention the negative aspects….. and this leads to not focusing and not doing anything about problems.

    This extreme focus on not hurting people’s feelings (that is, the people that you have a personal relationship with) is so important, it outranks rules, and sometimes even the law.

    Have you heard about the “jeitinho” already? If you know how to use the “jeitinho” in Brazil, life becomes way more easy. It just requires you to not care about rules all that much. Ethics in Brazil are mostly focused on who you´re dealing with, not about ethics themselves.

    Do you have the right to be helped first even though there is a line? Well, if you know the guy behind the counter, then often the answer is yes. Why then does nobody in this line complain? Well,… remember the “good” things you mentioned about Brazilian culture?…. That’s why.

    I’ve struggled with this issue for a while. Knowing what I wrote above makes you feel like the future for Brazil is to always be a developing country. But things are changing in Brazil. Long term planning is getting more important to Brazilians of all income levels. This used to be mostly for upper middle class and the higher classes. Now middle class is the biggest class in Brazil. More than 50% of Brazil is in middle class income level and a simple thing like buying a house with a mortgage is accessible to almost everyone now. In Brazil too, family planning is normal now with on average only 2 to 3 children per couple, even in the lower classes. (depends a little bit on where in Brazil you are.) All these changes also cause changes in culture. But I’m afraid that the “jeitinho” will be around for a long time.

    Long reply, for what it is worth. Ofcourse what I wrote is a little bit simplified version of reality. But I hope it’s apreciated, also by your Brazilian readers.

    • Mateus bernardo

      Thank you Peter! I’m brazilian and I agree with you. I think there is a motive the people don’t want to ‘hurts other people feelings’ sometimes, the brazilians think it’s better to acept the wrong and corrupt things than get out of the comfort zone and really sorve the problems. It’s easier to accept someone breaking the laws than to face it, this certainly is a problem to the development of the country.