Monday, January 23, 2012

Here's to Hoping the World Doesn't End!

Well, almost a month has gone by since my last post and so much has happened.  It's not fair for me to keep it all to myself.

Side note** I imagined that moving to Botafogo would have given me more time - more time for blogging, class prep, and all of the indoor activities I was used to doing.  Our move has done the exact opposite (not complaining) but more time outside and spent with friends means less time for blogging.

In the past month since my birthday I've:

Had 4 visitors
Taken the train to the Cristo
Rode the bondinho  to Pao de Acucar
Taken 1 trip to the Tenda Espirita de Umbanda
Read 2 books
Done 5 consecutive days of yoga (dotted with several other days)
Gone to the beach 3 times
Bought a ticket to the Carnaval Parade

That's of course not even everything but that's what has taken up the majority of my time for the last few weeks!  So far 2012 is off to a great start, with no apocalypse in sight!  

My first two visitors were my mom and sister.  It had been a year since I'd seen them and while the year went fast, so much can change in that time.  I notice the changes in myself so much more when I am reunited by my family and friends from home.  You might say I've become more 'Brazilian' - I don't know if that's necessarily true but I guess we are all a product of our environments.  I certainly like to shower more and clean my house more, wink wink (but I still ALWAYS take my shoes off when I enter the house, because shoes in the house is just gross to me!)

I wouldn't say I'm becoming more 'Brazilian' because there are so many things about Brazilian culture that I still don't identify with, and probably never will, since I didn't grow up with the same understanding of the world from Brazilian eyes.  Now my eyes are broader (in terms of cultural experiences) than those of my (my specific) Canadian peeps and of my Brazilian peeps.  That makes me neither more Canadian nor more Brazilian, it just makes me 'me'.  A combination of experiences that could relate with both sides, but at times makes me feel very removed.

I have big fears of our inevitable move back to Canada.  It's taken a long time to 'assimilate' into Brazilian culture.  To learn the language, the general rules of society, how to get around, what the prices of a pineapple should be.  A lot of blood, sweat (a freakin' LOT of sweat) and tears (also, a BUTT LOAD of tears) have gone into getting myself to the point I'm at today - a point where I feel I'm actually growing as a person: not standing still, or worse, moving backwards.

I feel like it will be difficult to find common ground with people once I'm back home since this huge period of constant adjustment has been the centre of my life for so long.  It's the first time in my life that work, money, clothes and 'things' have played so little importance to who I am.  

I know these things are very important to Canadians (whether they like to believe that or not).  

They were very important to me, too.  They are still important to me, to my happiness.  But they aren't the centre of my happiness, like I always felt was the true race to life.  To work as much as possible, to make as much as possible, to have a big house, to buy a lot of things, to have a car, to travel everywhere... I feel like I can see things with clearer eyes now.
Maybe I can say that because I've found my true calling with English teaching - my job doesn't feel like I'm torturing my soul, like it used to.  My true love of language, of teaching others, of sharing information, connecting with people, seeing the product of my work... What if I can't find that again when we move back to Canada?

Living in another country is like being on a permanent holiday.  Everything is different and new every day, even if you're doing it for the 100th time - it's not the way you grew up doings things.  No matter what level of Portuguese you are, you are always hearing a foreign language on the street.  Drinking coconut water at the beach still feels like a special event.
There is something very exciting about living life this way.  Even when nothing really happens, so much is happening every day. 

I think that's why my husband would prefer to live in Canada.  If it gave him the same feelings it gives me living in Brazil, I can't blame him.  Although for him, it's a much different sensation, I'm sure.

The reality is Canada is easier.  Canada is more organized.  Canadians are polite and they look out for each other, in general.  In Brazil, you're fighting the fight alone, give or take a few specific situations that bring the community out in people (Danielle and I talked about this exact topic while at the Farmer's Market by my house - the Market is a place I see a lot of community, but step outside the streets of the market and a car is sure to run you down).

Anyway, I didn't even get into more details of what I've done the last month but it has generally been a great month of reflection for me.  I also want to talk about the Centro of Umbanda that we went to, which was very interesting and awesome.  If you haven't heard of Spiritism in Brazil, or Umbanda (which is not the 'black magic' one) check out the wikipedia def that I linked up above.

Other than that, my cats are lovely, my friends are lovely (Danielle and Alex's weekend here was GREAT GREAT GREAT), and JIM has totally made it possible for me to experience my first Sambodromo during Carnaval!  Woo!  2012 is looking fine!  (as long as the world doesn't end!) 

P.S. We aren't moving back to Canada any time soon but we have been doing some life planning which has got the question coming up in my mind... Never hurts to think about it. 

Does anyone else have the same fears about re-assimilating into your own culture?  Or have the experience of actually doing it? 


  1. Hey! I like your new blog layout!

    Nice to hear from you again, I was hoping you didn't give up on us!

    I had no clue that you guys were going to eventually move back to Canada! SHOCK! When you get back there you are probably going to view life in a completely different way.

    My dad works with a woman who is American but her family moved from the US to Brasil (Belo Horizonte) when she was in middle school and she lived there until she was in her mid 20's until she had to move back here (for some reason, don't know why) and she said her life was forever changed. She's been a big help in helping me make up my mind about my ideas and wants for myself in Brazil. She continually tells me that I will never be the same person after my experience but in the best way possible. She said she thanks god for her experience there and said she learned just because we are used to doing something in a certain way, it does not mean it's the right way. These kind of things really inspire me!

    I think you'll probably have the same sentiment once you return to your homeland. Or not, I don't know. But it seems like you are the type who does appreciate what you have and had.

    Sorry for my mega comment but I felt I needed to say that. Actually, I think you have inspired me to do a post about this =P.


  2. Dear Lindsey,

    The idea of going back to Brazil scares me half to death, for several reasons, but mainly because we have been in the US for almost 15 years now. I became an adult here, in Brazil I always lived with my parents.
    However, what bothers me about Brazil is not so much the lack of "organization" as you pointed out, you get used to that fast, and also when you learn how things really work this whole process becomes a lot easier. You also mentioned the fact that you could get run over walking outside your market, hell, that happened in Florida all the time and do I really need to say how bad it is in New York city?
    My concerns with Brazil are a lot more subtle and harder to spot and overcome.
    It gives me chills to the back of my spine when I remember how people in Brazil are do NOT go direct to the point and are masters in "beating around the bush"!!! It is actually considered rude to be objective and "honest" about what you want, what you feel, how much you like something or not and if you want to go somewhere or not. Brazilians are super sensitive and it's easy to offend someone and be misunderstood as rude and insensitive.
    Work relations are also very different and I have worked in the US for too long to remember how to "defend" myself in a Brazilian corporate environment, it definitely is an art I will have to learn from scratch and it won't be easy.
    Gil and I discuss about our concerns to the idea of returning home almost every day...
    I am just curious, why do you say your return to Canada will be "inevitable"?
    Great post!!! :)



  3. Love the new layout! Beautiful colors!!!

    Let me just say this: Moving back to your own country/culture is harder than moving to a new culture in some ways and easier than others. But overall it is much more intense, difficult, and, well... sad (even if you love your country/culture) because it also signals an end to some very important time. HOWEVER, it in the end it is wonderful. To be able to take the two versions of "you" and blend them into the person you want to be... it is a beautiful thing that few get to experience. At some point you will find you place and continue on, but more in the way YOU want to and less in the way you just kind-of-happened-to-be-living before. You just have a lot of patience with yourself, because unlike moving to a foreign place where you expect things to be different/hard, you will discover they can be at home. Initially, anyway.

  4. Interesting thoughts. You're right, it is hard to find common ground with people from your own culture after having been away for so long.

    I think a lot of the changes aren't those more external things like lunch rather than dinner being the biggest meal of the day... they're deeper and can be hard to even put a finger on - and you end up with this weird feeling of "things don't quite fit" or "you guys just don't understand."

    In any case, it's great that you've found a deeper happiness than some of the material things our North American culture tends to pour its heart into!

  5. Hey Lindsey, I moved from Brazil back to Ireland and found the transition quite challenging. After experiencing Brazil for the first time home felt really boring. Where was the madness? Why didn't people chat on the bus? It definately takes a while to readjust, if in fact you ever do. If you do move back to Canada be sure to be doing something you enjoy. It'll help.

    I may be moving back to Ireland at the end of the year and while one part of me is looking forward to living in an organized society (even if the economy is totally fucked), another part will miss the edginess and excitement of daily life. Oh and the rudeness. You have to be really rude to get on, at least in Recife, in a way that would be shocking at home. And I'll miss that. Well, that and the beaches.

  6. Noooooo PG and Lindsey, you guys can't leave!!


    JK, I know how it goes; hard to decide, etc.

  7. Just wanted to say much of what you say about 'Brazil' can also probably be attributed to you being in a big city. Like when you said "In Brazil, you're fighting the fight alone, give or take a few specific situations that bring the community out in people" couldn't be further from my experience in my Little Cowboy Town in the interior. I actually have to ask people to stop helping me, and people are so understanding with my language limitations. Our vet has actually taken it upon himself to set up meetings with every bank in town to give presentations and hopefully get more students. It's mind boggling.

    Ah, re-integrating can really stink. I travelled and lived all over for 2 years- 1998-2000- but it was also a life-stage tough time. (28-30) I didn't know that then, though. I read a book called "Culture Shock" I think....Reverse Culture Shock has the same affects. I think Peace Corps estimates a US person needs $6,000 to help with a smooth reintegration.

    I returned to the US and and didn't quite know what to do with myself. Teaching ESL was a PT job there, and I wanted to go to grad school *right then*, but nothing was working out. I also couldn't imagine living in the US for the rest of my life. I made my 10-year plan, and it all worked out, here I am in Brazil, with my grad degree and a loving partner. The 2 dogs and 27 chickens are a bonus!

    Carlos and I are probably here for hopefully I won't have to go through that again. The US wears me out.

  8. @Danielle

    We're not leaving for a lonnnng time! (if at all, but don't tell my mom)

  9. wow.. Eu não acredito que você esta pensando em voltar pro Canadá... Eu adoro ler teu blog e sobre sua vida canadense-brasileira... Mas realmente, se estiver difícil a adaptação, o melhor é voltar, você tem que lutar pela sua felicidade, e estar em um lugar onde você se sinta livre e tenha bem-estar, siga seu coração, é o melhor remédio e caminho para a felicidade.

    Eu te desejo boa sorte nas suas futuras escolhas e todo amor que houver nessa vida para você e todos que te rodeiam =) [Desculpa por escrever em português] ;)


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