Interview for the An American-Brazilian in Brasilia

Thank you for the expert folks at Expat Finder for publishing the interview!


Please find complete text below:

14 September 2016

\We’ve had the chance to talk to Raquel Miranda, 44, a Brazilian-American expat who has moved to Brazil with her family. Mrs. Miranda who has been living there for two years now works as a public health specialist.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: From Itaguai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: What made you move out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

A: A post-doctoral research opportunity at UCDavis, California, in 2001

Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: In Brasilia, Brazil

Q: How long have you been living in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Since August 2014

Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: With family. Yes, the husband and our three third-culture children are adjusting pretty well, despite their young age [almost 11, 8 and 5]

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I do. We Skype, call each other on the phone, write emails and have a family WahtsApp group

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Right now, we’re living in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and it’s coincidentally the city I grew up in, since both my parents used to be federal public servants

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Brasilia, Brazil? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: Coming back to the place I grew up in, some 22 years later was quite interesting, and challenging! Making new friends, as a working mother, and being perceived as a ‘diplomatic spouse’, was an intriguing piece of the puzzle! After six months back, I already had a good group of friends from work, other parents from the school, and acquaintances, associated with the US embassy.

Q: How does the cost of living in Brasilia, Brazil compare to your home?

A: Comparing to the US
•Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: A couple of dollars
•Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Anywhere around 5-10 dollars
•Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Could be pretty expensive. One could easily spend 100-200 dollars one a meal with wine/drinks [date night!]
•Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine tends to be quite inexpensive since Brazil and neighbouring Argentina and Chile are good producers. Anywhere from $7 – 25 a bottle

Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Pack lots of patience! Have your CPF [tax number], have proof of local residency [any utility bill would do it!]; know your full address and have a landline phone number. Besides that, just bring a good reading book, be prepared to sit down and wait, with the patience you remembered to pack!

Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: We come in as a diplomatic family, therefore and fortunately, those steps are taken care of before our departure [from original country/post]

Q: Would you say that healthcare Brasilia, Brazil reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Extremely reliable. I’ve had the most diverse medical experiences after we joined the expat life/foreign service. Had a child in Brazil [Recife, 2010], have been hospitalized for seven days with some sort of infection… had allergic episodes… and was cared for. Our children, like any others at school age, have had their share, as well. You name it – from lice, flu, allergies, cuts, immunizations… and we have nothing to say but good things about the medical care. Obviously, we follow strict ‘home rules’, considering their ‘mama’ works with public health, at the first sign… I am on the ball!

Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or Brazil? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Yes, we did. ER visits, pediatric visits, dental coverage [basics] and minor medical interventions should be covered.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Always being accepted as the ‘new kid on the block’. Trying to prove that despite being a ‘foreigner’ or, in my case, for having lived away for so long, to be understood by others as being just like everyone else – with the same flaws, weaknesses, facing the same difficulties, and sharing the same dreams.

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Positive: the very warm, colourful, characteristic Brazilian soul. The negative? Unfortunately, the well-sung diversity creates gaps within the society, which leads to discrimination, and corruption.

Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Enjoy the local architecture, the surroundings. Other cities offer beautiful landscaping, the so-famous beaches, waterparks… enjoy the culture, the music, the colours… and the food!

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Yes. Probably in a year or so, when we have our new international assignment. Who knows what the future has in store for us?

Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Try to understand the culture: Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish [insert a smile here!]. Not many people speak English, so, don’t expect to find someone on the street that can give you directions to that fancy Peruvian restaurant! Brazilians are friendly, warm and very, very chatty! Try to be sympathetic, and listen to their [sometimes, endless!] stories!

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Obviously, our family nomadic photo and op-pieces blog, 3rd Culture Children also, Facebook groups, like Diplomatic Baggage in Brasilia and Conheca Brasilia.



{Guest Post} Exploring Popular Perceptions about the “Serial Expat”.

Though more people are starting to travel for their job, and more people are embracing the idea of “lifestyle design,” the serial expat is still a relatively rare creature. Maybe you know someone who taught English in Asia for a year – I’m one of them – but few of us know people who spend their whole lives living abroad, maybe even bouncing from country to country, seeing the world while they work.

Perhaps because so few people actually know a serial expat, there are a lot of misconceptions about what serial expats are like and what their lives are like. Many of them are negative, though a couple are positive. Either way, they all miss the mark in some way. Here are a few of the myths about the serial expat compared to the reality of the expat lifestyle:

by Chloe Trogden

In the Midst of This
In the Midst of This (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though more people are starting to travel for their job, and more people are embracing the idea of “lifestyle design,” the serial expat is still a relatively rare creature. Maybe you know someone who taught English in Asia for a year – I’m one of them – but few of us know people who spend their whole lives living abroad, maybe even bouncing from country to country, seeing the world while they work.

Perhaps because so few people actually know a serial expat, there are a lot of misconceptions about what serial expats are like and what their lives are like. Many of them are negative, though a couple are positive. Either way, they all miss the mark in some way. Here are a few of the myths about the serial expat compared to the reality of the expat lifestyle:

They Don’t Want to Grow Up

One of the most common perceptions about the serial expat is that they are Peter Pan types who don’t want to grow up. They party all the time, and they hold down a job only long enough to finance their next trip to some tropical beach where they can party the days and nights away. The perception is that serial expats can’t face the reality of a job and a mortgage and a family, so they defer the inevitable by literally dropping out and moving to another country.

The reality is that – just like with any group of people – this is true for some expats, but it is not true of them as a group. Many serial expats are working in serious jobs that are a part of achieving their long-term career goals. They are working in senior positions or working their way up to them. They are living the same kind of lives that anyone else lives – except they’re doing it in another country. In many cases, they may even be buying real estate or raising families.

They Can’t Commit

Serial expats are often thought of as serial bachelors. Many people think that they don’t want to commit to a partner, to get married, or to raise a family. The logic is that if they were settled down with a spouse and children, they wouldn’t be moving around to other countries – they’d be saddled with a mortgage State-side near their extended families.

However, the reality is that many serial expats are traveling with their partners and their spouses and that many of them have children. There are expats taking round-the-world trips as they homeschool their children. There are expats who are pursuing career opportunities as they put their children in English-speaking schools.

They Can’t Get “Real” Jobs

Going overseas to teach English is a popular choice for recent college grads who can’t find work in their home state – or who aren’t quite sure what they want to do for a career. Yet many people think that serial expats – especially teachers – decided to go overseas because they couldn’t or didn’t want to get “real” jobs.

The truth is that there are expats working in all types of jobs overseas. There are some working in NGOs, working as reporters at English daily newspapers, working as business leaders and so on. Even those working as teachers are working “real” jobs – many are committed to careers teaching ESL and developing curriculum.

They’re Adventurers

Expats are seen as adventurers who are traveling the world, learning about new cultures, tasting new cuisine, and meeting new people. Many people think that every day for them will bring something new and exciting. They may look to the lives of serial expats with envy.

There is some truth to this perception, as expats do get to experience many adventures and learn about new cultures and new people. However, every day doesn’t bring something new and exciting. Many expats are living the same kind of lives as their friends and family back home – going to work, paying bills, keeping doctors’ appointments and so on.

They’re Risk Takers

Many people think that moving to another country is a big risk and that only those who are spontaneous and used to taking risks will make that choice. While moving to another country may be a big risk for some, it’s not for others. There are many expats who consider the move to be on par with moving to another state for a job. They may be comfortable making the move yet be risk averse in other areas of their life.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for the expat lifestyle. There’s as much diversity in the expat community as there is in any other community. Perceptions are just that: Perceptions, not necessarily reality. The truth is that serial expats are living the same kind of lifestyles as any other group of people – just in a different location.


Chloe Trogden is a seasoned financial aid writer who covers specific opportunities such as grants for school. Her leisure activities include camping, swimming and volunteer work.

What perceptions have you encountered about serial expats? Share your thoughts on them in the comments!

Early Christmas gift: …and the winner of the 2012 Expats Blog Awards Bolivia is…

Expat Blogs

… this blog! 😮 Gold it is!

blog award goldI’d like to thank you all for reading, suggesting, commenting, checking the blogposts out… Thanks for the positive feedback!

Thank you for showing support through the great comments you’ve written.

One fan says: 3rd Culture Children has a wonderfully diverse mix of cultural posts, photography, food, local and daily life, and just general musings on life. It is a blog that gives you a glimpse of life as an expat, not life as a tourist living temporarily somewhere other than “home.”

If there are any suggestions or questions, please feel free to give me a shout… or Tweet along, or check the Facebook page [see right sidebar]… but I do believe the easiest way will continue to be this one over here: leaving your usual thoughtful comments at this blog… 😮 Thanks!

Now, as the tired involved mom I’m, back from the last day at the kids school, enjoying their end-of-the-year stage performance, the best way to celebrate this achievement is hiding from the kids and taking a nap, enjoying a glass of wine, bragging about it sharing the good news with my fellow bloggers!

Thank you very much for the ‘serial expats’ and friends in the Expat & Foreign Service community for taking the time to read the blog and leave comments… Much appreciated! ♥

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 Just got interviewed by BlogExpat:From Brazil to USA to Africa and back to Brazil: 3rd Culture Childrenby Erin [27 February, 2012 11:37]Raquel L. Miranda, Brazilian by birth, lived and studied in Argentina. Worked as an international researcher in the USA, before marrying and becoming a Foreign Service ‘hauling spouse’, mother of 3 third-culture children, all under the age of 7! Currently posted in Recife, Brazil – previous posts including Washington, DC and Maputo, Mozambique.

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