One of the hardest parts of blending in and feeling happiness in Rio was not speaking Portuguese and my quest to learn the language. Until you have the experience of being 'without words' to communicate, it's difficult to understand the feeling of loneliness, of exclusion and the lack of connection.
I always, ALWAYS, encourage people to learn at least a little bit of a language before moving to any country. You will have so much more freedom if you do.
I took a Portuguese class before I came to Brazil, but it was nothing compared to the Portuguese I have learned while living here, learning with Brazilians. Learning with a Brazilian is the best way to 'speak Brazilian' - to understand the slang, the cultural references, the double entendres, the rules of society...
Whether you are moving to Brazil or already living here, language is the key to your freedom and independence. It's what will paralyze you on your weaker days, and give you the biggest sense of accomplishment on your strong ones.
"But Lindsey, I don't know how to find a Portuguese teacher!"
Let me make your life easier and proudly plug someone very near and dear to my heart. His name is Rodrigo and yes, he is my husband.
Rodrigo is a Brazilian native and my best Portuguese teacher of all time. He can help you too. Please visit the page at the top of my blog that says "Learn Portuguese with a Brazilian" if you need Portuguese in your life (or if you need Rodrigo in your life, but if that's the case maybe we should talk first! *wink*)
But I don't mind sharing, if it helps you communicate better. It's true, without language you get really good at hand gestures and really, miming becomes a skill you didn't know you had. But miming only gets you so far when you're trying to understand social references, like Michel Telo's uberly popular song "Ai, Se Eu Te Pego" (Actually, I take it back. Miming is just fine for this song.)
Point is, if you need Brazil you need Portuguese. Rodrigo can help you.
P.S. He's cute too so you'll be getting a two for one deal, lucky you!