Monday, July 12, 2010

the troubling parts

I think the biggest thing that gets me down here is just the lack of social circle I have.  I'm so lucky to have my husband and he is definitely my best friend - sorta along the lines of Rachel's description of a great partner, lover, and soulmate. 
But he goes to work sometimes (!) and sometimes I just wish I could invite a girlfriend over to have drinks with or watch movies with or to go out with.  Someone who can just hang out with me all night and eat junk food and gossip with me. 

Having close friendships (even just one or two - I'm more of a quality over quantity person myself) are what I miss the most about Canada.  It's also probably the worst thing about my job.  Both of the main offices at my school are in Centro and I travel to my students' place of business to teach their classes.  This means I don't often come into contact with my coworkers.  In fact, I don't know any of the other teachers (minus maybe one or two who I've met) and I don't know any native speakers here.  Sure, I've met quite a few Brazilians but nobody who I've been able to develop a friendship with (aside from my husband's amazing friends, but nobody lives close enough to just 'come over' for the night). 

I miss the companionship of people who speak my language though.  People who just understand what things are like across the border(s).  I know some of you out there have gone through a similar situation to my own.  Any advice on how to meet people?


  1. I'd like to say it gets better, because it does... but not much. I had very similar posts a few months in:

    Even if you work AT a school, it's not like a typical work environment where you have hours sitting next to co-workers. You go for a couple of hours, teach your classes, and go home. You're not solving problems with coworkers.

    I've made more friends with students than with coworkers. Also, at the time I wrote that friendship post, I thought my Portuguese was pretty good, but now I can say that it's much, much better now.

    I made friends with a student who has invited me out multiple times with her clique of girl friends, and I'm starting to get to know the other girls, too. They're about it.

    I just try to keep myself busy with work so that I don't think about it so much.

    However, you're in a big city. You can check on places like Facebook if there are any ex-pat groups in Rio (I know there are some in SP). You might also be able to sign up for Portuguese classes or find some volunteering programs (though I'm not sure where you'd start to look for those, sorry).

    Good luck. You can do it!

  2. Sorry to see you feeling blue. I have been lucky that Luiz's friend network is vast and we all enjoy each other very much. But the language barrior continues to be just that.

    I, too, have made friends with students/ex-students. And Danielle's comments about work-mates rings totally true. Plus I had very little in common with the young, about to get married, chirpy teachers at FISK. Just sayin'.

    I'm going to schedule a play date for us bloggers -- check back at my blog for details.

  3. I think a playdate is in order!

    I feel your pain! I spent years with my Brazilian friends, and I have some good ones, but it's different sometimes. There's an ease in talking to someone in your own language. I'm lucky to say I now have a large foreigner cirlce, enough so that it's messing with my Portuguese!

    It does get better though. Brazilians, Cariocas epecially, are a tough crowd to get to know. It takes a lot of time to get into their inner circle. And location plays a big part. When you live far here you just live far.

    Do you go to the gym? It's a great way to meet people here. Take a yoga class or just lift. You'll meet people.

  4. i think we are riding in the same boat..unfortunately at different ends. maybe we should just convince our husbands to move closer together so we can have friends, how about it? :)

    Good luck! I know it will get easier, for you and I! But also, one day we should probably just make plans to meet and have a night where we eat junk, watch movies, and talk talk english :)

  5. There is a Meetup group for English speakers in Rio. You can join at this website:
    Once you join, you will likely get an invitation to join InterNations, a group for ex-pats.
    I found this information on the internet because I had planned a move to Rio this summer; unfortunately, family issues forced a change in plans. If I ever do get down there, though, I'll be sure to look up all you North American bloggers!

  6. Thank you you anonymous shadow :) I totally joined the group... I wonder how I missed it before! Hopefully you'll be able to come in the future!

  7. Hi! What you commented on is definitely at the top of my list of preoccupations about living in Brazil. A year ago a volunteered two monts in Rio (fantastic times), met a man and now, a year after, he's moved here (I live in Spain, although I'm from Finland) and we're married. Originally, my plans were to stay in Spain (after all, I've already left my homecountry and just finished my bachelor's degree here), but my husband is having saudades and we're playing with the idea of living in Rio.

    I know Rio, so it's not that I don't know where I'd be getting in, on the contrary, I know where I'd be getting in. The traditional jeitinhos, bureaucracy, poverty and crime are coupled with personal issues such as finding work in my area and making friends. My husband keeps going on about how Brazilians are out-going and easily approachable and how it's impossible that a soon to be university lecturer doesn't get employed in Brazil, but he just misses the point that it's different for him, a Brazilian, and to me, a gringa.

  8. Have you tried the International Newcomers Club of Rio? I lived in Ipanema in 2003 and 2004 and the INC was a lifesaver for me. Met some great women and did some fabulous outings (the ceramics factory in Itapava was a favourite!) Not sure where they hold their monthly meetings now but it used to be in the Hotel Sharaton in Leblon. BTW, the Hotel Sheraton also has gym memberships and it includes the use of their fabulous pool area which overlooks the beach...spent many a lazy Sunday afternoon poolside :)


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