Braving Brazil: Navigating a Global Space


Before coming to Brazil, I thought about some of the challenges I would face in the new country that would be different to the social and cultural norms I was used to in the United States. As a foreign traveler in a new place, I knew it was vital to be open-minded when it came to learning about Brazil’s culture and I was ready to be immersed in a whole new experience.

One of the first obstacles I noticed in Brazil was the language barrier. I went abroad thinking I could get by with the little bit of Spanish and Portuguese I knew because people in Brazil would speak some English, too. Since I have only ever traveled to countries where English is a dominant language, I thought that Brazil would be the same way. However, I was shocked to find that barely anybody spoke English, even in the more tourist-heavy locations, and not many tourists in the areas we were in were from English-speaking countries. We had to rely heavily on the help of our Portuguese-speaking tour guide to get us through the city and help us navigate new places during our tours to different energy plants in the countryside.

To help overcome the language barrier, my roommates and I looked up how to say common phrases in Portuguese and also how to ask for help and directions in case we got lost. We got familiar with translational apps that worked offline so we didn’t need to be connected to cellular to communicate with locals, and we began using those apps regularly to help us be more independent in our conversations with people in Brazil.

After learning how to navigate the language barrier in Brazil, I became a lot more comfortable on the trip because I felt a bit more independent. It was a lot easier for me to establish a daily routine with my roomates once we all got used to using translational apps with Brazilian locals and getting comfortable with common Brazilian phrases for hello, thank you, and goodbye.

Most of our daily routines were similar to the United States, but one other difference was that in Brazil a lot of our meals were buffet style and our dinners were later in the night and lasted two or more hours. We ended up making dinners our fun events for the night and they were a good way to unwind after long days of traveling and tours.

My favorite experience in Brazil was the wind farm we went to where we learned about wind turbines and the energy that comes from them. The wind farm was located on a large field with a lot of cows and open pastures, so the area was very beautiful to look at. I loved learning about how wind power helps create a more sustainable form of energy as opposed to fossil fuels due to relying solely on weather fluctuations for the conversion of energy.

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