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Help! How Can a Foreigner Make Friends in Brazil?

Every so often, I receive emails from non-Brazilian readers of this blog, asking me for advice about life in Brazil. You see, there are often aspects of Brazilian culture that aren’t easy for us foreigners to get our heads around! The process of integrating can often be a bumpy one – as I’ve documented in my book Trying to Understand Brazilian Culture.

A couple of months ago a reader got in touch, to ask me about making friends in São Paulo. He has been living in the city for a few years now – but felt that it was still difficult for him to make friends with Brazilians.

If you are foreigner who has gone through this yourself, or a Brazilian who can offer some words of advice…I’d love to know how you would have responded to this.

NOTE: Obviously, there are parts of this email that have been changed to ensure the reader remains anonymous.

Hello Andrew,

I have been living in Brazil for a few years now. I wanted to move to São Paulo after taking a vacation here many years ago. When I returned to (my home country) after that first vacation, I knew I wanted to live in Brazil. But to make sure I was making the right decision, I visited two more times – before eventually quitting my job and moving here.

I have question for you. You seem like you have a lot of Brazilian friends, and I want to know how you get along with them. How do you do that?
Since moving to Brazil, I’ve realized that visiting and living here are totally different! I know that Brazilians live in the moment and are not great at planning, but I find this stressful. Like, super stressful! Sometimes they will say that they want to hang out on Friday night, but then when Friday night comes, they say they have an another plan – or they don’t wanna go out. Then I am left with no plans and nothing to do. Can I consider Brazilians who do this to me my friends? This happens to me a lot – and I have many other examples.

I guess I want to know what tips you have – how is it possible to manage a social life with Brazilians?

Respectfully,

Anonymous

I would be curious to know how you guys would have responded. I will do a follow up blog post in the coming weeks, because I think your responses will be useful for other foreigners moving here (and even those already living here who currently find themselves in a similar situation).

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