How is Brazil Different From the United States: An Interview


Hannah Barham

We are used to a certain way of school and a certain way of life here in the United States. We have our own traditional way of doing things, but what about life in another country? What is life like in another country? Let me ask you this: how would someone change the way they live after moving countries? My good friends Joshua and Lucas Hopkins both lived in Brazil for a period of time, and now Josh is a senior while Lucas is a sophomore. I interviewed them both to help get an idea of how Brazilian customs are different from US customs.


Josh’s Questions


Q: “Where in Brazil did you live and where? For how long?”
A: “So, I lived in Belo Horizonte, which is the capital of the state Minas Gerais. I lived there about 8 years, to be exact. I got there when I was about 8, so my ninth birthday was in Brazil, and when we left I was 16.”


Q: “Who all did you live with?”
A: “When we first got there, we lived for a while with my grandparents, my mom’s parents, and about a year later we got our own place, an apartment.” (To clarify, he has three brothers. Lucas, Adrial and Isaac. Lucas is a  sophomore, Adrial is in the 8th grade, and Isaac is 11, to my knowledge.)

Q: “What made you and your family move to the United States?”
A: “Me and all my brothers were all born here. As for me and Lucas, we are properly Tennesseans, and I think Adrial was born in Tennessee. Isaac was born in Georgia. My mom is an actual full Brazilian, so she was born in Belo Horizonte.”


Q: “Out of all the states you could have moved to, why did you come to Tennessee?” 

A: “So we came back to Tennessee especially because of my grandparents, my dad is basically the only child, and he felt that it was responsibility as the only son in the house to come help them because of some health problems they were going through, and at the time my grandfather was still alive. His lung capacity was down to forty percent. The one that really grew up over here was my grandfather, and my grandmother is from Indiana.”

Q: “How has this big change affected you and your family?”

A: “It’s not easy because when we were moving back people would say ‘oh, you’re coming back’. It came to this one point where home is where your close family is. So to us, you could say that we were more like those third culture people. You do have connections but it’s kinda like after you move and you get used to one place and one culture, and you move back. You’re not the same person.”


Q: “What were the people like in Brazil?”
A: “Culturally wise, it’s more like a group. Over here, I think it’s interesting to say we like to have our own space. But over here, not many people have a problem being that close, even if it’s like a random stranger. But I’d say, warm and welcoming kind of people. You will have those weird kinds of malicious people lingering around the streets. We lived in a big city, right? So I think that if you were to compare a big city here and a big city there, there’s not much of a difference.”


Q: “What was the school system like?”
A: “The school year there starts in February, and it ends in December, like 200 days. Your average school day is like 4 hours. So the thing is, you have morning students and evening or afternoon students. It would be like you’d have folks that would get there at 8 o’clock and stay there until like 12, like lunchtime. The foreign language there would be English. Depending on the school you’re going to, they might offer Spanish. I’ve heard of some schools that will teach Portuguese, besides French and German.”


Q: “Did you have any holidays or any other traditions that aren’t here in the United States?”
A: “Well, I think one that many people have heard of is Carneval.”

Q: “Whenever you see Brazil portrayed in fictional movies or books, is it entirely accurate?”

A: “No. I think that happens like on both sides, you know when they portray the US. When you ask a typical Brazilian, what do you think about the US, they think about Disney World, they’ll think about Miami, Los Angeles, New York City.”

Q: “What was your favorite thing about Brazil?”
A: “Well, there were many things I enjoyed. I enjoyed the food, the people there, I definitely enjoyed the weather. However I didn’t appreciate the fact that we didn’t get a lot of snow.”

Q: “What’s your favorite thing about the US?”
A: “I think that it’s really cool how the middle class can live very comfortably, cause like over there, some people would call it third world, when it’s more of a developing country.”

Q: “If you were given the chance, would you move back to Brazil?”
A: “Well, I think that’s a really tough question. We moved back here to be that help for my grandparents, now my grandmother. For now, it’d be great to visit, but probably not move back. Just for the reasons that’s going on right now.” 


Lucas’s Questions

Q: “Did you enjoy it down in Brazil?”

A: “Yes.”


Q: “Describe a normal day for you when you lived down there.”

A: “So, I would wake up, 9 to 10 o’clock, maybe 8. We went to school in the afternoon. We’d wake up at like 8, 9, or even 10 in the morning, finish homework we didn’t do the night before, we’d do nothing for an hour or so, then we’d start lunch, if Josh were there, we’d start at 12:30, if he wasn’t there, we’d start at like, 11. Then we’d walk to school, take about 15 minutes of that, if Joshua was there, we’d get there late. After school, we’d come back on foot or have our mom pick us, we’d get home, probably do some homework or nothing depending on our mood, do whatever for like an hour or two, probably make dinner, or our mom would make dinner, eat dinner, then go to sleep.”


Q: “How has this big change affected you?”

A: “Well for one I live in another country. It affected how early I wake up, cause I wake up at 6 o’clock now, and it affected how much time I spend out of my house, and what language I speak, cause now I speak English.”


Q: “What were the people like in Brazil?”

A: “Well, I’d say they were very warm and welcoming. Some different people, some different features. Open to conversation I guess. You could talk to them, if they talked back, it’d depend on the person. There are these little things, where people would sometimes be like, ‘Would you like to come over to have some coffee?’ But yeah, warm is a good way to say it, I guess.”


Q: “Can you elaborate on Carneval?”

A: “People would get on the street, dress up, not dress, worse than not dress up. We’d stay indoors, except for this one time we had the church program where it was right there around the lake. So they decided they wanted to go out on the balcony cause the parade was going by, it was a mess, and it wasn’t pretty.”


Q: “What was your favorite thing about Brazil?”

A: “Maybe my favorite part was the food or the people, maybe both.”


Q: “Least favorite thing?”
A: “I dunno, where we lived, the least favorite thing would be traffic. And maybe Game Day.” 


Q: “What’s your favorite thing about the US?”

A: “I’m not really sure what’s my favorite thing. I guess school seems to be more interesting. It is seven and a half hours a day, but it’s got more interesting stuff going on.”


Q: “If you were given the chance, would you move back to Brazil?”

A: “I dunno, I guess I would stay here. I would go back of course cause I have family and the country’s pretty awesome. Minus traffic. I would stay mostly because of economic reasons, like in Tennessee the cost of living isn’t that great, the dollar has more value, it’s one to five. One dollar is equal to five there, currently. It could change like the dollar could lose its value.”

After this interview, I had a better idea of how different other places, other countries, are so much different than how we live in the United States. It’s interesting to think about how there are people in the school weren’t always living in the United States their whole life.