Some may think being an expat is hard, living the ever-changing routine, adapting/adjusting as you go…
Some others may find it intriguing, exciting and worth pursuing, despite the constant uncertainty and the last-minute life-changing decisions ones is often faced with.
Our family falls right in the middle. It’s definitely not the easiest lifestyle; nevertheless, worth every bit of it!
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.
Lily Thai opens 6 days a week for lunch and dinner, closed on Mondays, at this time of the year. They have great specials, and it is very affordable.
Chef and Owner Lily Thamibutra worked at her sister’s restaurant, Seaside Thai (now closed for good), for 5 years before venturing out to create Lily Thai. It’s located on First Street, right next to the original Nicola’s, where Dos Locos used to be many (many) years ago. They have (finally!) acquired their liquor license, so no more BYOB. Pony up for a nice cold beer or some wine. In spite of how long it took to get the nod for booze, Lily’s has already earned a reputation for authentic Thai food served up in pleasing, if not austere surroundings.
The signature dishes are the Pad Thai (with chicken or shrimp) and the Tom Yum soup (chicken or shrimp with lemon grass and cilantro). .
- Date night, sashimi & yacht. (3rdculturechildren.com)
Traveling could be seen as a passion. No matter if it’s for work or leisure. Photography is another passion, trying to capture, as much as possible, some of the unique sights visited during the several trips throughout the Northeastern region of Brazil. This is another post from the “Collecting Brazilian States” segment.
Sediments from the São Francisco River give Sobradinho Lake coloring that changes from brown, to golden tan, to green. The lake is located in the northern part of the Brazilian state of Bahia, already showcased here on a previous post.
Created by the construction of the Sobradinho Dam (“Represa de Sobradinho“), the reservoir itself is the largest in Brazil, covering a surface area of 4,225 km2. It has a mean depth of 8.6 m and a maximum depth of 30 m. Watch below the concrete bridge/platform being lifted, to give passage for the large ships, transporters and storing units! Really something!
Nome histórico: Forte das Cinco Pontas.
Designação popular: Forte das Cinco Pontas.
Nome de tombamento: Forte das Cinco Pontas.
Outras designações históricas:
- Forte Frederik Hendrik;
- Fortaleza de São Tiago das Cinco Pontas;
- Forte Frederico Henrique;
- Forte Frederick;
- Heinrich Trots Den Duivel (Desafio Ao Diabo);
- Vijfhuck (Cinco Pontas);
- Fortaleza de Frederico Henrich.
Muralhas desgastadas, fossos secos e aterrados, paliçadas em grande parte caídas pela deterioração das madeiras, foi este o quadro que apresentava o Forte Frederick Henrich, quando da chegada de Nassau a Pernambuco. Logo pode Nassau constatar a pouca defesa que em tais condições aquele forte poderia oferecer; e se tratava de um importante posto, pois era o único capaz de garantir água no caso de um cerco à cidade. Mandou alargar e aprofundar os fossos; construir uma contra-escarpa na face externa do fosso; alargar e elevar as muralhas; e do lado do mar, construir uma sapata. Posteriormente ampliaram as defesas externas, com a construção de novos fossos em direção ao sul.
Quando da Restauração Pernambucana, o Forte das Cinco Pontas foi a última fortaleza a ser conquistada pelas tropas luso-brasileiras.
Foi ainda no Forte das Cinco Pontas, onde se encontrava aquartelado o general Sigismund Von Schkoppe, que foram elaborados os termos da rendição das tropas holandesas. E a 28 de janeiro de 1654, na Campina do Taborda, o general Francisco Barreto de Menezes, recebeu oficialmente os termos de capitulação, quando ficaram definidos os moldes da evacuação dos holandeses de Pernambuco.
The architecture has been preserved, and the cells were occupied by dozens or small shops, selling local crafts.
Even where interior walls were removed, to allow a little bigger shops, the look was maintained, only two lifts give a dispensable sign of modernity and comfort, in contrast with the strong grills in the center of the building, and one may find beautiful wood work, resembling the ones found in the colorful nearby city of Olinda.
Throughout the galleries it’s possible to find several different examples of the influence of Master Vitalino, when it comes to lively arts and crafts.
Excellent musical and dance performances often take place right outside the building. The Casa da Cultura is an excellent place to obtain tourist information and start an acquaintance with the region’s cultural arts.
“Two Subjects”. That’s the inspiration for this week’s photo challenge from WordPress. This “theme” is more of a composition challenge, than the usual single themes we’re used to post about. Let’s see how this week’s compositions turn out… mix of natural and man-made two-subject themes…
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“Through”. That’s the inspiration for this week’s photo challenge from WordPress. Humm… Physically speaking? Emotionally through? A passage? A rite of passage? Too many different interpretations for this one single theme. What’s “through” for you? For me, it means passage, strategy, possibilities to overcome challenges…
Since we’re getting through one more week, let’s see how it goes regarding the challenge:
And finally, walking through the excited crowd, experiencing the largest street carnival in the world!
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During our visit to the Archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, we were invited to enjoy the magnificent islander cuisine, through an unique gastronomic event. This event happens every Wednesday and Saturday evenings at one of the best bread and breakfast of Fernando de Noronha called “Pousada Zé Maria”. Father and son run the business, and the night event we attended was hosted and presented by Zé Maria’s son, Tuca Noronha. Our appreciation to the host, as well as to the pleasant evening among friendly companions…
That said, the ecologically correct paradise of Fernando de Noronha offers opportunities for its visitors to be adventurous, without impacting the environment – and this concept is extended to its cuisine. Besides participating at Zé Maria’s Gastronomical Event, we also enjoyed typical food from the island at the Shark Museum Restaurant and Restaurante da Edilma (where I had shark for the first time!), and the perfect evening view at Pousada Maravilha‘s restaurant. The union of great food, good conversations and pleasant ambience, is the perfect combination for wonderful travel memories…
Gastronomic Event at Zé Maria’s:
Sea Food Specialty at Maravilha Restaurant:
A special dish at the Shark Museum, in honor of its creator, Eng. Leonardo Veras: “Camarão ao Léo”:
The inspiration for this week’s challenge is “Contrast”, and here I’m, sharing a very recent image that represents a lot of contrast: the end of the day, beginning of the evening; the dark colors from the previously light sky, kindly kissing the calm ocean waters, introducing the night to observers and by-passers…
And, if you’re curious to know how this scene would look during the day, here’s another contrast: the ‘earth-colored sky’ is replaced by a paradisiac blue sky, which is reflected onto the turquoise and green waters…. from a far away view, I’m bringing you all to a closer look at the “Morro Dois Irmãos”(Two Brother’s Hill) 😮
So, do you prefer the “sunset view” or the “daytime view”? I’m totally bias, because I’m deeply in love with the main island, but I’m leaving the question here! 😮
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Just like the Atlantis, Fernando de Noronha has caught the imagination of travelers for centuries and many urban myths are associated with this gloriously surreal island. With its powdery beaches, lush rolling greens and crystalline azure waters, Fernando de Noronha is a tropical paradise of sublime beauty that is steeped deep in mysticism and mystery. The archipelago – named after a 16th-century Portuguese nobleman who may never have actually set foot there – exists in the proud Brazilian imagination, as well as a beautiful group of a main island and several islets. Fernando de Noronha is, strictly speaking, an archipelago made up of one 11-square-mile chunk of volcanic rock and 20 smaller islands, three degrees south of the equator, 220 miles from Brazil’s north-eastern coast.
Discovered in 16th century, the eco-wonderland is big on conservation, thus traveling from mainland is expensive business. Fernando de Noronha has the best beaches in Brazil, as Guia Quatro Rodas Praias, Brazil’s ‘Beach Bible’, bestowed five starts to only four beaches in Brazil – and three of them are at Fernando de Noronha. One of the more popular ways to explore the island-mountain is by hiring a dune buggy [look at our photos here on the sides!], which is available easily for rent.
We would always start or days early, heading towards Lago dos Dois Irmãos, or walking down the cobblestone streets in Vila dos Remédios.
In Atalaia Beach, we were able to snorkel with fishes and juvenile sharks, checking out the swarms of hawksbill and green turtles, and also, witness rare island species like iguanas. Other adventure seekers like us, engaged in underwater activities, diving and snorkeling to experience the prolific marine life including albacore, barracuda, snappers, cangulos (fish)… An upcoming post will offer more details about our encounters with the marine and wild lives from the archipelago 😮
Leão, Sancho and Porcos Bay are the best beaches in Fernando de Noronha and our personal favorite is Sancho Bay as the water changes color from crystal to turquoise to emerald and there is a huge reef wall around the beach making it popular among snorkelers. These will be subject of upcoming posts, since we’re still going through our pictures, often having to bring ourselves back to our present time…
Fernando de Noronha’s claim to fame is its diverse and rich ecosystem. And while nature lovers throng to this eco-paradise, the volcanic island with its splendid marine life, dramatic rock formations and long lazy stretches of beaches is the perfect romantic destination as well… and we can vouche for that! 😮
…finally, leaving you “curious for the posts to come“, a glimpse of what we found during our eco-friendly explorative adventures: 😮
[We still need to share our experiences with the Brazilian TAMAR Project (marine turtles) and with the Shark Museum (“Museu do Tubarão”)]. Imagine!!