About Me

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

São Paulo vs. New York

Oi Galera!

Sorry I've been so ''sumido'' as of late, things are still really busy for me around here! School just started, and I'm taking a super heavy credit load this semester so I'm already exhausted (…not a great sign…), but it's only this semester and then three more classes next semester until I'm officially graduated, and hopefully starting to do what I want with my life. It's about time!

Anyway, It's been over a year since I came back from Brazil, can you believe that? It's pretty crazy! Not surprisingly, many of my views about things have been permanently altered after my stint in Brazil, just like many people who have lived there/live there have observed. Even if you don't observe it and think you haven't changed from living in Brazil, you have!

One of the things thats really changed for me is the concept of lively versus boring.

Yesterday I was in Manhattan (a place where I go very often, because I live close by and also because my sister currently lives there, so I visit her there often), and couldn't help but think about the weird sensation that the place gives me.



I used to think New York was ''the center of the universe'', just as New York markets itself. It markets itself as a lively place where everyone is dying to be. I understand the allure of New York, but in reality I think it's a different place than most people envision.

It's a bustling city, with around 8 million inhabitants in its city limits with another 12 million in the surrounding metropolitan region (Similar to São Paulo.) Even though it's bustling, it hurts me to say this, but I think New York has turned into somewhat of a soulless place.

There are people everywhere, but no interaction. It's almost a sterilized city. By this I mean there is nothing unique about it anymore….each corner has a Starbucks Coffee, every two blocks there is Whole Foods Market and every block there is Duane Read, without much diversity in-between. There is no originality anymore. There is no grit. It's like a shiny coin that didn't get it's design imprinted on it….shiny and pretty but plain and kind of boring.

New York gets a back wrap because people think it's inhabitants are rude. I never agreed with this before, but now I'm starting to understand why so many people say this. New Yorkers will say ''Thank You'' and ''You're Welcome'', but there is almost no sincerity or genuine friendliness to be found in the city. It's like each person is their own walled fortress, trying to get to where they're going as fast as humanly possible with as little human contact/conversation/recognition as possible.


Contrast this to São Paulo…it's like night and day.



Some expats might say that Paulistanos are not overly friendly, and you'd be right. But at the same time, being someone who knows each of these groups pretty intimately, Paulistanos are definitely more outgoing than the common New Yorker.

Also, São Paulo is a crazy, mixed up city. It's got the chicest neighborhoods you'll ever see, decrepit neighborhoods falling apart, leafy suburban areas and favelas. Not uniform. The sidewalks are different every few steps, the stores are not all the same (well, only the banks and pharmacies…) and it doesn't give this completely sterile vibe that New York gives.

It's really funny how New York is such a tourist attraction, especially for Brazilians. I know they marvel at the tall buildings, how the streets are planned out on a neat grid and all that….but I wonder how they would really do if they needed to survive in New York. Brazilians are intensely social animals and the New Yorker is the complete opposite. I think most Brazilians would feel a little depressed after a real stint of New York living. You're on your own, and nobody really cares if you're lonely or not--because everyone in that city of 8 million people is lonely. Ironic, isn't it?

Abraços,
Alex

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Don't Like The Brazilian Middle Class

First off, I'd like to give a big ''OI'' to my readers! Sorry for being missing in action for such a long time! I'll write a post as to what I've been up to soon, time really flies! Anyway, lets get to the meat of the post.

I Don't Like the Brazilian Middle Class

Lately my interaction with Brazilians has been low, mainly because most of my friends that were part of the Ciências sem Fronteiras program that were studying at my university have left for other universities or went back to Brazil, but any kind of interaction I have with Brazilians now tends to be from the middle class, are here temporarily and are going back to Brazil at some point.

Unfortunately, speaking from an outside viewpoint, I find the Brazilian middle class incredibly negative. Brazilians are always known for their positive outlook on life, on their ''joie de vivre'' (did I spell that right?) and their ''Brasilidade'', something that combines a happiness with limes and sugar and creates a caipirinha like human. I have to disagree, and strongly, that all Brazilians are like this.

In my opinion, the lower class Brazilians have got some of this ''Brasilidade'' going on. The upper class definitely have it going on, as the Brazilian upper class lives better than almost any upper class anywhere in the world (yes, even better than the American upper class.) But the middle class? HELL NO.

The Brazilian middle class is a bunch of whiners. They complain about everything, they nonstop talk about how Brazil is an ''inferno'' and how they hate it, how they can't stand Brazil, other Brazilians or anything having to do with their own country. They don't look at things objectively, they look at them as if they were a two year old, and decide they hate everything Brazilian. They think it's cool to degrade their past, their ancestry, their bloodline, and try desperately  to be anything but Brazilian.

Now, I'm American. I don't necessarily love my style of life in the US (although I live a great life and I'm not taking it for granted…I just want a change of scenery and I love Brazilian culture), I don't tell everyone in the world that I hate the United States. I tend to try and make a balanced comparative between Brazil and the US. I know I haven't lived in Brazil for very long periods of time, so I'm missing some authentic experiences, but in general I lived my life like any citizen in Brazil. Middle Class Brazilians, for some reason, think life in ''the first world'', as they love to call it, is just like the movies that Hollywood brainwashes them with.

The middle class Brazilian fights, for two seconds, and then gives up and complains. They complain about how they hate Dilma, how ''nada presta'' how there is nothing that they can do to change their situation or the situation the country is in. They sit there, and cry, and cry and cry while making sure everyone around the world knows that, in their opinion, Brazil sucks.

All I want to say is, the majority of middle class Brazilians whine about everything, do nothing to change the things they don't like, give up on almost everything, and continue to think that going to the ''exterior'' to live a magical life on their three week vacations, buying apple iPhones, iPads and MacBooks is more important than painting their cinderblock wall in front of their house. Makes me sick.

Middle Class of Brazil: YOU are the ones holding Brazil back and YOU are the ones who messed it up in the first place. I would be happy if 50% of the middle class of Brazil was replaced with another nationality, hell, even ARGENTINIANS would be better than you. Wake the hell up and stop being babies. And put down your damn iPhone and do something important.

**Note: I know not all middle class Brazilians are like this. But unfortunately, the nonstop crying and doing nothing syndrome is RAMPANT in the Brazilian middle class.

Beijos
Alex

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Não, vai ter copa!!

Olá  minha gente,

Sorry for being so absent lately, I've been busy doing nothing :P. 

Anyway, Copa is fast approaching!! To be honest, I'm very nervous about what's going to happen. I know that half the infrasturcture promised is either unfinished and/or incomplete (so thats kind of a problem…), but to be honest, I'm more secured in terms of how the events will actually turn out. I'm afraid about violence against tourists, or violence that might occur because of disagreements between police and protesting Brazilians. I'm even worried about the potential attacks that drug gangs could pull (especially in Rio and São Paulo.) 



I'm cautiously optimistic, but in reality I can't help but think that this World Cup is going to make Brazil have an even worse reputation than she already has. The American and British media has already been out for blood regarding Brazil and it's capabilities for years, but now I think the situation is about to get much worse. I think, unfortunately, Brazil's reputation is about to go from bad to terrible. Its a shame that a wonderful country like Brazil has to be governed by such stupid people who can't get anything together. The place is marvelous and deserves a worthy government that can make it the place it's dying to be…a world class country!! 

What do you think? 

Abraços! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back, and Lost !

Olá Galera! 

Well, after a little bump in the road (ahem, wanting to shut down the blog....), I’m back and blogging much to the chagrin of the ‘‘recalcados!’’ I’m here to stay! :) 

Anyway, this week we went back to school after Spring Break, which was quite extended this year. At my school we usually get a a four-day weekend for Spring Break but this year I had a full school week off, plus two weekends, so I was away from school for a full nine days! I did absolutely nothing, I went home and stayed in my house the whole time except for leaving it a grand total of three times to go eat out a few times. I guess I had nothing better to do though, my friends from back home weren’t around and the weather was terrible (as usual.) 

When I came back to school I was pleased by the arrival of another shit load of Ciência sem Fronteiras students. In total, there are now about 50 Brazilians attending my school. For a school with 60,000 students, 50 doesn’t seem like a lot. But for some reason wherever I go I ONLY SEE BRAZILIANS. My Brazil-dar is extremely fine tuned as of now and I can immediately tell who is Brazilian just by looking at them. It’s not how they look that lets me know they’re Brazilian either. I’m almost sure it has something to do with the Brazilian eyes. Not physically how the eye looks, but it’s the ‘‘olhar’’ that definitely is the marking component. I walked past a table of Brazilians at the dining hall who I hadn’t met previously (as they just arrived) but I knew they were Brazilian immediately, and they obviously picked up on something off of me considering they all stared me down until I reached my table, meu jeito brasileiro gave me away Hahahahaah :P. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? 

I’ve only met a few out of the group, but so far this group seems a little more ‘‘chato’’ unfortunately. One of the new mineiros made a comment that really rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ll give him a second chance. Other than him, the rest seem very ‘‘timidos.’’ Like they’re afraid or something....maybe it’s the subzero temperatures freezing them alive/consuming all their energy? Who knows... 

As for academics, it’s in shambles. I mean, totally horrible. I have no drive anymore. I don’t know whats up with me because I feel like I just don’t care about school anymore. Not an ounce. I tell myself I need to study, I force myself to do so, but the information never sticks. I’m having a hard time actually getting myself to class (is it the weather that makes me not want to go, as I normally have to walk miles a day in subzero temperatures? Or am I just lazy?), I’m not doing all of my work and I’m afraid that I’m gonna flunk some classes. The weird part is that I technically care about getting good grades, but my organizational skills (or lack there of) are preventing me from actually doing something about it. I’m already going to be graduating late, but now I’m just worried about actually getting to graduate at all. 

I think it has to do with a few things outside of school. I know I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I have a very high pressure family. My father is a very successful businessman who built everything he has and has provided for me and my family from nothing. He grew up extremely poor (we are talking Brazilian styled extremely poor, not America poor), he has an abusive alcoholic father, a schizophrenic sister, a mother who never protected him from his father, and dealt with crime (including the murder of one brother and extremely close second call with another brother that almost died after having his skull cracked when having the shit beaten out of him in front of his house) and death his whole life. He’s the only member of his family that is still alive. So considering where he came from, it’s amazing where he is now. 

But, because he came from such tough backgrounds, he had to have to a drive unlike anyone you’ve ever met in order to escape the situation alive, let alone doing extremely well for himself financially. I’m so proud of him, and honestly I don’t even really know how to put it all in perspective. 

The dark side of the success story is that he thinks the impossible is possible. He has higher expectations than any of you could possibly understand. I have to be perfect at everything that I do. There is no room for any funny business. So, he expects that I graduate at the top of my class, he has expected me to work in a corporate setting since  it was legal (I’ve worked in offices since I was 16 years old), I worked illegally before that under the table. Now due to the economy being still extremely shitty in the US, I’m having a really rough time finding an internship for this summer even though (not to brag) my resumé is better than most 40 year olds, and I have lots of office experience and experience with dealing with the public, as well as being totally bilingual and almost trilingual nowadays with my Spanish improving every day. I’ve been looking the whole school year (yep, since September!!) and no bites. No wonder unemployment is still so high for my age group. 

You can imagine how this infuriates my dad. I don’t have normal conversations with him anymore. He can’t stop talking about how I need to find an internship, blah blah blah. He doesn’t even ask me how my life is anymore. I feel like I was put on earth to serve my fathers need of me being perfect for him.

In result, this discourages me greatly. I feel like my future is going to be dictated by my Dad and what he wants me to do. I still have not made many decisions in my life, the only one I made (and thank god I was allowed to make it, although it was in jeopardy for a while) was the study abroad in Brazil. It’s not like he paid for it though....I did. 

So now I feel stuck. Im constantly worried about jobs, couple that with school and I think I burned myself out. Now I don’t really care about either and it’s just going to lead me down a path of failure. I don’t know how to get out of this apathetic state I’m in, because now everything is just so blue-tinted and bitter. I don’t like being this person. I want to change. I also want to quit school and build a fucking shack in a favela somewhere because at least nobody would expect that I create a billion dollar company by the time I’m 25. 


Abraços,
Alex  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why I'm done Blogging

Hey Guys,

I've decided I'm going to stop blogging. I always have something to say, but unfortunately most of the time I get a lot of hate comments (which I delete before any of you can see) and I'm kind of tired fighting the ridiculous vira-lata Brazilians who do nothing better than hate themselves and try to spread their hate of Brazil to everyone else.

It's really sad. It makes me want to give up on Brazil sometimes because I think ''How could there be so many of these people who try to make OTHERS miserable with their points of view, and want others to hate Brazil as much as they do?'' But, I'm not gonna give up. I'm just going to ignore the constant comments like..

Que vergonha nacional!
Que vergonha de ser brasileiro!
Só no Brasil mesmo!
Brasil é uma merda!
Brasil é foda!
Brasil é blábláblá pápápá…….

and all the other bullshit. It's tiresome to hear other expats complain about stupid things about how they don't like the milk in Brazil or how they can't stand the Brazilian chocolate. Just complaints about why Brazil sucks and absolutely no constructive criticism as how to make it better.

It's also tiresome dealing with protecting your love of Brazil, and being questioned as to why and how you could ever like Brazil by the rowdy vira-latas and whiny expats. It's tiresome having your every comment slashed and burned, being called a gringo who doesn't know anything, and how my opinion is not valid because I wasn't actually born in Brazil (mind you, I almost never say negative things….I say positive things about the place and I'm still virtually murdered.)

So, I'm done. No more blogging for me, at least for now and the foreseeable future. Maybe one day when I'm actually back in Brazil I'll write a post now and then, but I'll have to remind myself not to say positive things because I might get death threats. I'll keep the subjects to the already over written subjects of why Brazil is a horrible place, probably the most horrible country on the face of the earth, according to the vira-latas who are always right and don't know how to take other people's opinions.

It was a good run while it lasted, but I'm done dealing with explaining myself. My best to the vira-latas, hope you find an apartment in a  flop house somewhere in Germany or Newark so you can escape to the first world and work in a Brazilian restaurant there for the rest of your life, you will have escaped the slums and Brazil and will have made it big serving feijoada to other vira-latas in the post-industrial suburbs of the Northeastern USA and outskirts of perfect European villages. Primeiro mundo!

Beijos, Abraços, Fiquem com Deus
Alex

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

School, and other concerns :/

Oi Gente!

So, I'm in the second semester of my ''Senior'' year here at my university. Normally, people graduate after 8 semesters at a College. Well, unfortunately for me, I'm having a little bit (ok, a lot) of bureaucratic trouble and red tape to deal with, mainly having to do with my transfer here after freshman year, as well as the fact that my school screwed me and changed the general education requirements needed for a degree not long ago (of which I was blissfully unaware of until about a week ago). This means, that effectively, I have about one more full year here…meaning I have this semester to deal with, along with two others in the not-too-distant future.

Main issue now is that my classes are really hard. And I'm super unmotivated, have literally no interest in ''Cognitive Psychology'' and sometimes wish I never went to college. I know everyone always talks about he light a the end of the tunnel, but right now I'm not seeing any of that. I'm gonna be a SUPER senior, I've got a ton of super hard classes, parents who are pressuring me to finish as quickly as possible, dwindling savings, and pretty much am dying to get back to Brazil as soon as possible.

I'm trying to get internships lined up for the summer to improve my resume (which by the way is pretty good…not bragging or anything :P) because my GPA isn't really showing the ''real'' me, if you know what I mean.

This brings me to another point. How the hell am I going to find work in Brazil? I've already been scouring the University Placement office trying to find some sort of Brazilian connection, but I'm not finding it anywhere. How did you guys, those who are foreign but living in Brazil, find work? Can you give a few tips?

In the meantime, I'll be playing russian roulette while trying to procrastinate studying, pondering dropping out of school, and running away to Brazil for good.

Beijos
Alex

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cultural Unity: Brazil vs. USA

Hey everyone!

After thinking I had nothing to blog about anymore earlier today, I stumbled across an interesting discussion on an online forum, and thought it would be interesting to talk about the subject here on the blog.

The main original question was "Does Brazil have anything that really unites it culturally?" Well, off the top of your heads, you would probably scream ''HELL YES!'' picturing samba, churrasco, carnaval, football (soccer) and all the things you typically associate with Brazil.

How about for the United States? There are a few things that I would associate with the US, including American sports (Football and Baseball), but other than that the other things seem much weaker in comparison to Brazilian counterparts. At a quick glance, the United State's cultural identity is much more fabricated in a false sense of something that doesn't really exist than Brazil's. But this isn't to say that Brazilian cultural identity doesn't have it's problems, faults, and issues---cause it does. Vamos lá.

Brazil is a beautiful woman who hates herself. The Vira-Lata complex constantly jeopardizes Brazil and Brazilians and their culture. Let me just give you some examples of what I'm talking about:

When I was in São Paulo, I would often express my love for Samba music, Bossa Nova and other musical styles that have roots in Rio de Janeiro. The majority of middle class people would immediately ask me if I was insane, what was wrong with me, and how I could ever like something that was so ''brega'', or ''coisa de pobre/do morro.'' I would stir up the pot some more and even say that I enjoy watching Samba dance and actually like carnaval. And I love Seu Jorge's music. This left them dumbfounded.



Look, I get that these people weren't from Rio. They were from São Paulo. But just because you're from São Paulo doesn't mean you're better than someone from Rio and doesn't mean you have to instantly hate anything that comes from Rio. It seems that most people who are not from Rio will tell you that they hate samba, that they hate carnaval, that they hate anything that is even somewhat stereotypically Brazilian. But why? Sometimes I feel like Brazilians are trying to prove that they are European and will abandon anything that has non-100% european roots. At the end of the day, this is hopelessly vira-lata-esque behavior. It affects huge population swaths of the country.

Even though Samba may not represent every single Brazilian, it still is part of the cultural identity of Brazil. Unfortunately, I've met many people who were willing to try to change my opinion on the subject (which really isn't going to happen), and try to convince me that Italian opera or Lasagna is just as Brazilian as Samba or Churrasco. See what I'm saying? It just seems self loathing.

On the other hand, American culture hasn't really created enough for it to be able to even deny itself. The United States doesn't really have any kind of music that is SPECIFICALLY from the US (maybe blues could be considered one, but even that's pushing it), there are hardly any foods that are truly American (Apple Pie might be the only one), there are no unique dances that originated in the country….and the list goes on. The United States never constructed it's own culture, but rather took other country's foods and musics without really blending them to create something unique. That's why, to me, the idea of what it means to be ''An American'' is so abstract, and really has no definition. It's much less defined than what it means to ''Be a Brazilian.'' Even though what it means to ''Be Brazilian'' may come out of stereotypes (Like being good at futebol, dancing samba, jeitinho, light hearted/good spirited, multiracial e blábláblá), I do see more uniting qualities amongst most Brazilians than I see amongst Americans. Sometimes I feel like American culture is extremely fortressed, with little groups doing their own thing without really contributing to the greater culture that everyone falls under. In Brazil, it's the opposite.



So, what do you all think? Who has a stronger cultural identity? What does it mean to be Brazilian, and what does it mean to be American?

Abraços,
Alex