Brazil is undoubtedly one of the most captivating nations out there. It’s a country 24 times bigger than Germany and home to nearly 200 million people. It was this very nation, which had interested me for years. Getting to know its culture and people, understanding why it’s so hard and complex to do business here, learning some Portuguese along the way and experiencing its rapid growth, were among many things which motivated me to come.
Previous employments had already brought me to Asia, North America and many places in Europe, yet, never had I worked in Latin America before. Thus, the Latin or rather the Brazilian way of doing things (the so called “Jeitinho Brasileiro”) was yet to be discovered: To do so I decided to spend my summer, which now actually turned into being winter, here in Brazil.
Little had I heard about the place I then ended up in. It wasn’t Rio de Janeiro nor São Paulo, but São Leopoldo in the nation’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. In this very place I started working for SAP at SAP Labs Latin America, mapping out a future strategy, building a new financial dashboard and creating a general training portfolio for our office.
So how is it like to actually be in Brazil and in particular in Rio Grande do Sul? Well, to anticipate the answer: it has to offer much more than I initially thought and certainly more than just Samba, Soccer, Carnaval, Beaches and Caipirinhas. It was rather the fascinating local culture, the vivid night-life, people’s warm-hearted mentality and the delicious food, which shaped my perception about this nation. Thus, let me shortly introduce a few things, which I find worth mentioning and which you probably haven’t heard about before:
Let’s start with the most important section: food. The first meal, which most Brazilians have each day, is Pão de Queijo. It’s misleading translation as “Kaesebroetchen” (for all german speakers) can hardly let you image how delicious these little cheese balls are. Once you’ve had one, you will most likely miss them for the rest of your life! Another important dish here is “Churrasco”, a typical & regional barbeque, which can be described as special local cuts of meat that are then stuck on sword-like skewers and grilled over burning charcoal. It’s super tasty, in fact it’s probably the best barbeque I ever had! So even if Brazilians don’t eat “Churrasco” every day, meat in general is an irreplaceable part in people’s diets here! So vegetarians be warned 😉
Another interesting curiosity I want to tell you about, is a ritual that starts most of my colleagues’ day. It’s the preparation of “Chimarrão” (a mate-based tea), which is so essential to the everyday life here that you find hot water machines everywhere, even in parks. The way people drink it, further serves to depict the “sharing and caring” mentality of Brazilians: Once you finish your “Chimarrão”, the “Cuia” (which is the special mug they drink it out of) gets refilled and passed onto someone else. Brazilians are also extremely welcoming, have a great sense of humor and are the nicest & friendliest locals a foreigner could ask for.
All sport fanatics can also rest assured; Porto Alegre (the city in which I live in) has two great football teams – Gremio and Internacional. Wherever you are, it is a daily mission to argue over which one of them is better. So if you ever come here be prepared to choose a team, because no one leaves without picking a side. Last but not least I can’t conclude the sports section without mentioning that Porto Alegre also hosts the FIFA Worldcup. In accordance with the “Jeitinho Brasileiro” they somehow even managed to get everything ready & constructed in time 😉
I could go on & on for a few more pages listing things you should actually know & hear about. Yet, to put it in a nutshell, it shall simply be said that there is much more to this nation than you might think. I can just strongly encourage everyone to come here, even when there is no World Cup taking place! Whether it is the culture, the people or the food, there is certainly something you will enjoy… & if sports are your one & only passion (and you didn’t make it here for the World Cup already), a trip to Rio in 2016 will be a MUST DO as well.
That being said, I hope I have motivated you to come and visit sometime soon!