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.