16 Hábitos Brasileiros Que Devem Ser Espalhados pelo Mundo

Quando gente de fora pensa do Brasil, pensa das praias lindas…Carnival…música e dança…futebol…

Brasil é tudo isso…e muito mais. É um país muito único e diverso, cheio de muitas idiossincrasias culturais que podem parecer estranhas para pessoas de fora.

Após passar um pouco mais de um ano morando no Brasil, eu achei que tem alguns hábitos brasileiros que devem ser espalhados pelo mundo inteiro…

1. Pegar Carona 

Nos Estados Unidos, a gente tem muitas regras. Uma regra que a gente tem é que é ilegal pegar carona com desconhecido. Quando eu era criança, eu pensava que era muito perigoso e estúpido pegar carona com desconhecido (com toda a justiça, talvez nos EUA, é!).

Mas no Brasil, viajar de carona é muita comum e seguro (pelo menos em Floripa e todas as lugares mais seguros do Brasil). Então se você não consegue uma carona, você se acostuma ficar de pé na rua, polegar para cima, esperando o primeiro carro parar.

2. Usar Biquinis Pequenas 

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Foto: Adam Kontor

Para se misturar nas praias do Brasil, um biquíni pequena não é apenas preferido–é obrigatório. Melhor se ele mostra suas marcas de bronzeamento.

Todo o mundo deve parar de usar aquelas fraldas…e começar usar o biquíni brasileiro!

3. Ouvir Musica Brasileira 

Eu nao entendi por que a musica brasileira nao e mais popular pelo mundo. Mas eu adorei que no Brasil, pessoal escuta e toca principalmente música brasileira–ao invés de musica de fora.

4. Escovar Dentes em Todo Lugar 

O brasileiro sempre está limpo…adora tomar banho e escovar dentes várias vezes por dia. No Brasil, é normal escovar dentes antes de café de manhã, depois de cafe de manha…no banheiro do trabalho…na festa…bom, em toda parte, o tempo todo.

5. Se Cumprimentar com um Beijo

Como na Europa, no Brasil, é normal se cumprimentar alguém com um beijo (o dois) de ar na bochecha…o no caso da Bahia, beijos de bochecha de verdade – com lábios e tudo!

6. Ser Carinhoso 

O brasileiro é muito carinhoso, gente. Quando você sai do Brasil, você percebe que a maioria de gente não é tanto assim.

Porque no Brasil, é normal beijar, tocar e dar abraço desde a primeira vez que se conhece alguém. E não apenas entre parceiros, mas também entre mãe e filho, pai e filho e tal.

Alem disso, pessoal não tem medo de mostrar afeição em público. Pessoalmente, após morar no Brasil, eu não podia viver sem esse carinho brasileiro.

7. Terminar uma Conversa com “Beijos” 

Os brasileiros não são apenas carinhosos fisicamente – eles também são carinhosos na maneira como eles falam uns aos outros.

No Brasil, é quase grosseiro terminar uma conversa e não dizer “beijos”…Até os médicos dizem “beijos” quando seus pacientes vão embora.

Eu viajei pelo mundo mas eu nunca achei (ainda pelo menos) um povo tão carinhoso quanto os brasileiros–tanto fisicamente e vocalmente. E eu acho que todo o mundo deve ser E falar assim.

8. Chamar Desconhecido “Flor” e “Querida” 

Quando eu me mudei para Floripa, eu morei com uma brasileira por quatro meses. Ela me chamava de “flor” tanto que eu realmente comecava a me perguntar se ela achava que “flor” era o meu nome! Logo eu percebi que esse era apenas seu apelido carinhoso para mim.

Era apenas mais uma maneira brasileira de demonstrar carinho e afeição.

9. Beber Sucos Exóticos 

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Maracujá….pitanga…caju…cupuaçu…guaraná…no Brasil, tem frutas que não existe fora do Brasil. E com tudo isso, pode fazer sucos exóticos e gostosos.

Que delicia…

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10. Dar um Jeito 

Se o brasileiro realmente quer alguma coisa, ele consegue uma maneira. Ele dá um jeito.

11. Nao se Apressar 

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No Brasil, pessoal é muitooooo descontraída. E o tempo passa um pouco mais devagar.

Fora da cidade de São Paulo, você não vai ver muita pessoa estressado. Pessoal no Brasil sabe apreciar as pequenas coisas, como um bom pôr de sol o uma boa música. Por que todo o mundo não pode viver um pouco mais assim?

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12. Usar Copinhos para Beber Cerveja 

Sabe que no Brasil, é um sacrilégio beber cerveja que é menos que gelado? Então, ao invés de beber cerveja em copos grandes, os brasileiros se acostumam beber cerveja nos pequenos copinhos. Dessa forma, a cerveja ainda está fria no momento em que se termina.

Melhor assim, né?

13. Depilar 

No Brasil, a maioria das mulheres depilam.

Enquanto nos EUA, um depilaçao biquíni pode custar uns $50- $60 USD (uns 193-232 reais), no Brasil, nunca se paga mais que $10 USD (30 reais) por isso.

14. Quebrar as Regras 

No Brasil, as regras são feitas para serem quebradas.

E legal morar em um lugar onde você não precisa se preocupar em ser penalizado por algo como beber uma cerveja no meio da rua ou atravessar fora de faixa (de verdade: eu ganhei uma multa de US $170 em Los Angeles por fazer isso!).

15. Ser Amigável 

No geral, o povo brasileiro é muito amigável e afetuoso. Sorria muito e sabe se divertir. Pode conversar e fazer amizade com quase qualquer pessoa. Todo o mundo deve ser mais assim, né?

16. Não se Preocupar Tanto 

O ônibus está atrasado? Leia um livro!

Falta 20 centavos para pagar o taxista? Não é nada demais. Fique tranquilo…

No geral, os brasileiros são muito descontraídos. Os gringos morando no Brasil acabam se perguntando por que todos os outros ao redor do mundo estão tão tensos e estressados o tempo todo.

Quando você sai do Brasil e veja pessoal assim, você vai querer falar: “Poxa, calma gente. Fique tranquilo. Relaxa. Seja mais brasileira.”

What the Guidebooks Won’t Tell You: 10 Things You Must Do When Visiting Rio de Janeiro

Okay, so you’re going to Rio. You’ve read the guidebooks, and you know you’re supposed to see Christo…The Copacabana beaches…Jardim Botanico…Sugar Loaf Mountain…but what else? What do the locals do in Rio?

Well, after spending nine months in Rio, I like to think that I became a bit of a local. I saw and did a lot during my time there…but there were a few memorable, not-so-touristy experiences that topped my list. And I’d like to share them with you.

So with that, here are the 10 things that I think everyone should do when visiting Rio…

  1. Grab a (Iced-Cold, Of Course) Beer at Bar Urca at Sunset 

Urca is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rio. It’s also one of Rio’s safest.

Urca is known for its long, sinuous promenade that overlooks the bay, called Mureta da Urca. And at the end of the promenade is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall bar, called Bar Urca. On weekend afternoons (especially Sunday), people spill out of the bar and onto the streets, indulging in ice-cold beers and warm pastels. Directly across the street from the bar is a stone wall that lines the water, where many cariocas sit and watch the sun set behind the mountains.

Tip: Go Sunday afternoons, pre-sunset

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Bar Urca
last sunset in Rio :(
Urca sunset

2. Listen to Samba at Bip Bip in Copacabana 

Bip Bip is another one of those casual hole-in-the-wall bars, where a table of musicians play samba (also known as a roda de samba). This place is super local and looks/sounds a little something like this (please excuse my crappy iPhone video)…

3. Mingle on the Streets of Baixo Gávea on Thursday Night 

One thing that I love about Rio are the street parties–like the ones in Baixo Gávea.

On certain nights of the week (Thursday, Monday and Sunday), the streets of this affluent, former Bohemian neighborhood fill with young, beautiful Brazilians and gregarious street vendors selling caipirinhas and beers. And unless much has changed in the last four years, you won’t see many foreigners or tourists here.

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Baixo Gavea on Thursday night

4. Hike Morro Dois Irmãoes 

Morro Dois Irmãoes is a mountain that’s home to one of Rio’s most popular hiking trails. And the top of the mountain boasts some pretty amazing views of the city. The hike itself is pretty easy and takes about an hour.

It starts in the (pacified) favela, Vidigal (which is just past Leblon). Like any favela, Vidigal sits on a hill. So to reach the entrance of the trail, you can either walk about a mile uphill (if you really want to get a workout in), or you can take a moto-taxi or van up, which shouldn’t cost more than a couple of reais.

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Vidigal
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About 1/4 the way to the top of Morro Dois Irmaos (already looks like this…)
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Top of Morro Dois Irmaoes

Then after the hike, I recommend rewarding yourself with some food and drink at Alto Vidigal, a rooftop bar which offers some more unbeatable, panoramic views of the entire city.

5. Watch the Sunset at Palaphita Kitch in Lagoa 

Palaphita Kitch is an outdoor lounge area that overlooks the lagoa (lagoon). It feels like you’re somewhere in Bali, what with its bamboo furniture and thatch huts. It’s more of a day place, so go in the afternoon sometime, and then watch the sun set over the lagoon (can you tell I’m a fan of sunsets?).

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Lagoa
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Sunset on the Lagoa
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Palaphita Kitch

6. Enjoy Street Samba at Pedra do Sal on Monday Night 

Pedra do Sal is the place to go in Rio on Monday nights. The streets fill with rowdy Brazilians, who go to mingle and listen to the roda de samba ao vivo (a.k.a. live samba music performed by a group of people).

7. Wander Along the Streets of Santa Teresa 

Santa Teresa is one of the most charming neighborhoods of Rio, thanks to its narrow, hilly, cobblestoned streets populated by old, colorful mansions and colonial buildings. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Rio, there are also loads of chic, boutique hotels that offer incredible views of the city.

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The charming streets of Santa Teresa
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Pretty mansion in Santa Teresa

While you’re there, be sure to stop by the Parque das Ruinas (Ruins Park), which is an art gallery built in the ruins of a mansion. If you go at the right time, you can even enjoy live outdoor concerts as well.

Tip: Just be sure to wander the streets of Santa Teresa during the daytime, not at night. It gets pretty sketchy post sunset.

8. Spend a Night on the Beach of Arpoador With Friends and Guitar Music 

I don’t know about you, but I actually prefer to go to the beach at night. I find it so relaxing, since you don’t have to worry about finding a place to sit amongst hordes of people–nor do you have to worry about getting sunburnt!

In Brazil, it’s pretty popular for friends to get together on a weekend night and hold a “luau” as they call it (which, for those of you who don’t know, is actually the Hawaiian word for “party”).

In Brazil, a “luau” refers to a party on the beach, generally accompanied by some food, drinks and good music. And it’s a whole lot of fun. Bonus points if you go and stay till the sun rises.

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Arpoador at sunrise. Not even photoshopped, I swear!
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Arpoador just after sunrise

9. Hit Up the Blocos for Carnival 

Carnival in Rio centers around blocos, which are basically massive street parties. Everyone gets dressed up (men dress up as women). And music, dancing and grabby men abound (girls, watch out!).

While I’ve never seen a Carnival parade at the Sambadrome before, I imagine that it’s hard to beat the fun that can be had at Carnival blocos in Rio. Just be prepared for massive crowds and a lot of mayem…and guard your belongings like a hawk.

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10. Walk along Ipanema Boardwalk on Sunday 

On Sunday, the roads that line Ipanema boardwalk shut down to cars and are replaced with bikers, dog-walkers, joggers and the like. There are even bands playing music on the street. Like so…

So there you have it. Those are a few of my favorite (non-touristy) things to do in Rio.

Have you been to Rio? What’s your favorite non-touristy thing to do? Share in the comments below.

Why “Be Yourself” Is Awful Advice

I recently listened to a podcast by my favorite relationship expert, Matthew Hussey. In it, he claimed that “be yourself” is terrible advice.

Why?

Because “be yourself” is just an excuse to be mediocre. It’s an excuse to keep doing whatever you’ve been doing. It’s an excuse to not take risks. It’s an excuse to not grow and improve upon yourself.

And we should all be trying to be better versions of ourselves. Because everyone has things that they can work on.

Think about it this way: Who is the person that you want to be? Who are the people that you envy? And why? Bthat person.

What are the things that you’ve always wanted to do? Do those things.

Let me give you an example. I’ve always been a pretty shy person–at least around new people. But it’s something that I’ve been working on, and I think over the years, I have become less shy. If I just accepted the advice to “be yourself,” then I could just as easily have stopped trying to strike up conversations with complete strangers and stopped stepping outside my comfort zone. And as a result, I would have missed out on a whole lot.

So instead, I try to do what my mom always told me to do: be more outgoing. I try to be more like my mom, who was not only outgoing, fun, vivacious, adventurous and funny, but incredibly thoughtful, generous, and kind too.

So here’s my two cents: Don’t be yourself. Instead, try to work on yourself. Try to become the very best version of yourself that you can be. And you know what they say…fake it til you make it. If you keep “faking it”–or keep practicing being the person that you want to be–eventually you will become that person.

You feel bad because you think you aren’t altruistic enough? Don’t be yourself. Instead, do more volunteer work. Or try doing one kind thing for someone else each day.

You think you’re someone who doesn’t have an ounce of rhythm and just can’t dance? Don’t be yourself. Take a dance class! And make a fool of yourself in the meantime. Who cares! And who knows, along the way, you might just discover that you have a hidden dance talent that you never knew you had.

Are you still single because you’ve always been scared to talk to people of the opposite sex? Don’t be yourself. Step outside your comfort zone. Face your fear of rejection. Get the courage to talk to that girl (or guy) that you’ve been crushing on.

Practice being that person that you want to be, whoever that may be. And in the end, you will become a stronger, more capable and better version of yourself. Guaranteed.

8 Ways to Meet People While Traveling Solo

Solo travel is exhilarating. It’s liberating. And it’s transformative.

But at the same time, it can get pretty lonely.

Over the years, I’ve gone on various solo trips and moved to places where I didn’t know a soul.

I’ve found that it’s actually easier to meet people when traveling alone than when traveling with people, because you’re really forced to put yourself out there in ways that you probably wouldn’t do otherwise.

For people who are naturally outgoing and extroverted, this might come naturally. But for all you introverted folks out there (holler!), this might take a bit more effort.

If you’re finding it difficult to meet people while traveling, here are some ways that I’ve had success:

  1. Go to coffeeshops

Depending on what city you’re in, it can be really easy to meet people at coffeeshops, especially fellow travelers and “digital nomads”. If not for the coffee, most travelers tend to go for the free Wifi. Sound familiar?

Just grab your computer or a good book, and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. I met a ton of people in Medellin that way.

2. Attend Meetup events 

Meetup is a website where users can organize and schedule events. If you’re in a bigger city, you’ll find that there’s a Meetup for pretty much anything.

Want to learn a new language? Learn how to dance salsa? Attend a yoga class? Go to a networking event? Go rock climbing? All of the above?

The great thing about Meetup is that you’ll meet people who automatically share at least one common interest with you.

3. Use Couchsurfing 

Couchsurfing is basically like a free version of Airbnb. It’s a website where locals offer free accommodation to travelers in exchange for some good conversation and company. The idea is to find hosts that you think you might get along with (judging from their profile at least), and then get to know the city you’re in from a local’s perspective.

Couchsurfing was the first way that I met people online. I was traveling to Munich for Oktoberfest and all of the hotels were booked. I needed a place to stay and ended up finding a nice German guy who agreed to host me for that period. I was nervous about staying in someone’s house that I had never met before (to be honest, the idea totally freaked me out), but I ended up having an amazing weekend–and all with people that I had just met during those few days!

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Me with my Couchsurfing host and other travelers at Oktoberfest

Then I did the same thing several years later. My friend and I couchsurfed with a really awesome Brazilian guy living in Munich. We all went to Oktoberfest together and had a blast. And I met up with him in Brazil just several months ago!

If you don’t need a place to stay (or aren’t totally comfortable staying in the house of a complete stranger), you could also post in the Couchsurfing forums, saying that you’re looking to meet other people–although be careful going this route if you’re female, since you’ll probably get a lot of sleazy guys who are looking to “hang out” for the wrong reasons. Just use good judgement, filter the sleazy ones out, and you might end up meeting great people! I did this when I was living in Rio and ended up meeting a really nice Aussie girl (also living there) who I became good friends with.

The Couchsurfing Hangouts app is also a great resource. The app shows you other locals and travelers in your vicinity, with whom you can connect with and well, hangout with.

The nice thing about Couchsurfing is that generally the people who use it tend to love to travel and be open-minded (presumably, like yourself!).

4. Use Facebook Groups 

The first time I moved abroad alone was to Toulouse, France to teach English for the year. Before going, I joined a Facebook group for other Toulouse teaching assistants like myself. One of my first nights there, a group of us all met up for drinks. We all got along well and ended up becoming friends.

Here’s some of us on our first night out…

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Through that same group, I also met a really sweet Irish girl who I became friends with and ended up traveling with several times. We even met up in Toulouse several years later for a reunion!

My point? There are about a gazillion Facebook groups out there. If you’re staying somewhere for a longer period of time, join the Facebook groups in the city you’re in and connect with other group members. Post something saying that you are looking to meet other people. You never know who you might meet!

5. Use Bumble BFF & Hey! VINA 

Bumble BFF and Hey! VINA are like the Tinder for making girl friends (sorry guys).

It’s pretty simple: You create a profile with a bio and a few pictures of yourself…and then start swiping!

On my first girl date in Barcelona, I ended up meeting a really cool Japanese girl who I got along with. Since then, we’ve gone out, traveled to Costa Brava and Montserrat, and have gone to a Barcelona soccer match together.

Here’s a little proof:

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6. Stay in hostels

I’ll admit–I’m getting to the age where I feel a bit old for hostels. I prefer a good night’s sleep to partying all night, and would rather have my own room than share one with a bunch of strangers.

The reason that I still stay in hostels is primarily to meet other people. If, like me, you need a good night’s sleep and a quiet room, you could look into getting a private room at a hostel (although sometimes they are pretty expensive and just not worth the price).

7. Rideshare 

When I was living in Paris, I wanted to take a trip down to my old stomping grounds of Toulouse. But instead of taking the usual method of transportation (the train), I decided to save some money and use the website Covoiturage (now BlaBlaCar) to carpool.

BlaBlaCar lets you find and share rides with drivers that are headed in the same direction as you. You then pay for a share of the gas (or whatever the driver decides to charge).

On this particular ride, I ended up hitting it off with the driver. We ended up becoming good friends–and still talk to this day, six years later! He is even planning to come to Barcelona to visit me soon.

Not only can it be a great way to meet people, but carpooling is also generally much less expensive than traveling by train (or bus).

8. Work from a Coworking Space 

If you’re working while traveling, working from a coworking space can be another good way to meet people. I’ve found that it’s really a hit or miss, depending on the coworking space.

My coworking space in Florianópolis, Brazil (O Sitio) was amazing. Not only was it a beautiful space, but I also met a lot of great people. The people who worked there were all super friendly and I ended up becoming friends with several of the other coworkers.

They held events and parties almost every night of the week, so it had a very social atmosphere.

But I’ve also worked from other coworking spaces where I didn’t really meet anyone at all.

My advice? Feel it out. If the coworking space is super quiet, there’s a good chance that it’s not very social and might not be so easy to meet people. I loved O Sitio because there were quiet spaces to work, but also common areas where you could mingle more. Plus, it looked like this…

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Final Words 

The truth is, there are limitless ways to meet people while traveling, and what’s listed above is only a small sampling.

You might have to step outside your comfort zone a bit (especially if you’re an introvert like me), but the end result–travel companions and possible life-long friends–will make it all worth it.

Trust me on that one.

Do You Have a Growth Mindset?

Generally speaking, people who travel a lot tend to be pretty open-minded. They tend to be curious and have a strong, innate desire to learn and grow. They tend to have a growth mindset.

Someone with a growth mindset embraces failure and sees it as an opportunity to grow and improve. They embrace challenge and enjoy trying new things. They experiment. They are curious.

Someone with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, thinks that their character, intelligence and abilities are fixed and cannot change. They will do whatever they can to avoid failure because they see it as a reflection of who they are and who they will continue to be. They hesitate to try new things and do things outside of their comfort zone because they don’t want to fail or look dumb.

Okay, so why does it matter at the end of the day?

Because mindset is everything. The way that you look at life will affect everything from your travels to your career success to your personal relationships and overall happiness.

If you think that you have more of a fixed mindset, the good news is that this is something that can be changed. You just have to be willing to change.

If you want to develop more of a growth mindset, here are a few ways that you can do that:

  1. Think of yourself as a “work in progress” or an “experiment”
  2. Don’t take yourself or life too seriously
  3. Be curious and make sure you are continuously learning
  4. Value the journey–not the finish line
  5. See each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow
  6. Face your fears
  7. Learn from each failure
  8. Celebrate the success of others

Of course, all of this is a lot easier said than done.

If you want to develop a growth mindset, you will have to step outside of your comfort zone.

You will have to constantly question and shut down that inner voice that tells you that you can’t do something or that reprimands you for your failures.

You will have to essentially train your brain to rethink everything that you have grown up thinking.

But eventually, if you work at it, that growth mindset will become a part of you.

Spending a Day in Tossa de Mar & Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava

Barcelona is a pretty amazing city. But one of the best things about living in Barcelona is being able to venture out of the city from time to time and explore the magnificent coastline.

Costa Brava is a region on the coast of Catalonia in northern Spain. It’s well known for its beautiful beaches and rugged landscape (hence the name: Costa Brava. “Brava,” as it relates to geology, means “rugged” or “rough” in Spanish).

There is so much to see and do in Costa Brava…If you can, I suggest renting a car and spending at least a week exploring the coastline (something which I have yet to do myself).

But if you don’t have much time or just want to get out of Barcelona for a day, there are some quick and easy day trips that you can take too. Yesterday, I did one of them.

I spent the day in Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar, two towns a 20-minute drive away from one another.

How to Get There 

To get there, I took the bus from Barcelona with a friend. Our trip was organized through her language school, which made things easy. But there are a lot of busses running from Barcelona Nord station, which run pretty much every hour.

You could also catch a ride with someone via BlaBlaCar, a website where you can share rides with drivers headed where you’re going (and pay for a share of the gasoline). It’s often cheaper and faster than public transportation. I’ve used this several times (in France and Brazil) and had only positive experiences.

The bus from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar takes about an hour and a half without traffic. But we went on a Saturday morning (leaving at 10:30AM) and encountered some traffic towards the end of our trip. So the whole trip ended up taking about two hours.

We spent the afternoon exploring the town of Tossa de Mar, a walled-off medieval town and ancient fisherman’s village that is incredibly charming albeit completely overrun with tourists.

The narrow, cobblestoned streets are lined with little shops and restaurants, leading up to a massive 12th-century castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the adjacent beach and coastline.

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After exploring a bit of what this beautiful town had to offer, we hopped on a boat to check out a nearby beach. The boat cost 10 euros round trip and took about 40 minutes to get to the beach and 30 minutes back.

We did a bit of sightseeing on the way there, stopping in various caves to admire the multicolored rock and hordes of little black fish swimming in the translucent water.

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And then, we arrived at our destination…

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Paradise, I know. We took a dip in the water (which was a bit cold but felt super refreshing!) and stayed for about an hour before heading back to the main beach at Tossa de Mar.

Then we spent a little more time exploring before taking the bus to our next destination: Lloret de Mar.

I have to admit: I had high expectations about this place and was a bit disappointed overall. Lloret de Mar is known for its nightlife, so there are some trashy-looking discotecas all along the main strip. And the main beach is so overcrowded that there is barely anywhere to sit. My first impressions? Not so impressed.

But then we walked down a path (from the main beach) that led us to the other side of the hill. And the difference was like night and day. It was much more calm and peaceful. And just look at that view…

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We walked down that path for a few minutes and then stumbled upon a multilevel outdoor and indoor bar/restaurant that overlooked the surrounding coastline.

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Then we sat and enjoyed some sangria for a bit before heading back to Barcelona. Not a bad way to end the day…

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Note: I think that Lloret de Mar does have more to offer than what we saw, but you might have to venture a bit outside of the city center to see it.

Why You’ll Only Regret The Things You Don’t Do And Never The Things You’ve Done

After college, when the majority of my friends and classmates were entering the “real” world with “real” jobs lined up, I packed my bags (well, overpacked them!) and moved to Toulouse, France to teach English for the year.

Even though I was going alone and didn’t know a single person in the city where I’d be living, I was determined to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany before starting my adventure in France.

So, my copious amounts of luggage and I ended up couchsurfing (staying on the couch of a total stranger) with a German guy. I spent Oktoberfest with him, other couchsurfers and random people we met along the way. Even though I spent the weekend with complete strangers, those few days will go down some of the best of my life.

See photo below for proof:

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After those wild, insanely fun Oktoberfest shenanigans came to an end, I headed to France, where I had to find an apartment, set up a bank account and get a cell phone contract all on my own with no tools beyond my rusty, high school French. (Believe me, France does not make this stuff easy for foreigners!)

Not knowing a soul, this process seemed scary and intimidating (and I learned that the Internet can be your best friend when it comes to making friends in a foreign country). But I ended up having such an incredible time that I decided to go back for a second year.

More recently, after completing my master’s degree in Paris, I once again packed my bags and, relying on some money I had saved up, moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to try to find a job. Living in Brazil had been my dream for a while and I was dead-set on somehow making it happen.

Many people thought I was crazy for doing it, but I never once doubted my decision. “Are you moving for a boyfriend?” Nope. “Do you know anyone there?” Not a soul.

While some people are more practical, I have always been entirely heart-driven; if I have an urge to do something, I make it happen.

I knew that moving to Brazil without a work visa or a job was maybe not the most practical choice, but I also knew that if I didn’t give it a shot, I would have regretted the choice forever and would have wondered for the rest of my life what could have been.

I like to live by the famous Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

While in the time I’ve been abroad, my friends back home have advanced in their careers, gotten married and settled down, at 27 years old, I am just now trying to start my career. Even though I am behind the majority of people my age, I am so happy that I made the choices I did. I have gained irreplaceable life experiences (while also having the time of my life).

I know that I can move to a foreign country, without knowing a soul – and I will be okay. I have become even more independent than I used to be; while I prefer to share experiences with friends, I also feel totally comfortable doing things on my own.

I see the US (and the world) differently than I used to. I understand the good and the bad of my home country and now see the weird and unique aspects I never used to notice or once took for granted.

I have friends all around the world. I now speak nearly fluent French and Portuguese, which would probably not have been the case had I stayed in the US and taken the same path as most people my age.

Over the years, so many people have told me that they envy me for my abroad experiences. But here’s the thing: If I can do it, anyone can do it. You just have to be willing to take a leap of faith.

It’s not just in life that we should “sail away from the safe harbor,” but in our careers, as well. So many people stay put in careers that do not fulfill them, challenge them or make them happy. They choose the professions that their parents wanted for them instead of what they really desire.

Sure, choosing the less secure occupation or leaving your career and starting something new is a scary and risky choice. However, if you never take that plunge, you will probably always wonder “what if…?” and remain stuck in a job that does not truly satisfy you.

If you are passionate about what you do, you will be more motivated to do a better job. It’s a win-win situation.

Whether in regards to your life, your career or your relationship, it is so important to follow your intuition and take risks. Your intuition is there to guide you.

I’ve found that oftentimes, the things that scare us end up being the most worthwhile. Think of it this way: When you’re 90 years old, what do you think you will regret more: traveling the world or being cooped up in an office job that you despise?

Want my two cents?

Step outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s one small step or one gigantic leap. Take that belly-dancing class you were always too nervous to try. What’s the worst that could happen?

Scared of heights? Go skydiving.

Book a trip around the world and travel for six months… or a year.

If you hate your job, quit; find one that fulfills you.

If you want to move abroad somewhere, just do it. 

Don’t make excuses. Sure, it’s easier said than done. But, life is just too short to not do the things you want to do.

And hey, if nothing else, you’ll probably get some killer stories out of it… I know I did.

Want some help taking your next big leap? Get in touch. I’d be happy to help!

*This was originally published on Elite Daily on June 9, 2014* 

How to Speak Portuguese Like a Carioca

In order to really blend in with the locals in Brazil, you can’t just learn textbook Portuguese (Unless of course you don’t mind sounding like a gringo…But who wants that?!). 

The best way to learn any language (including Portuguese) is by speaking with locals. It’s by learning the colloquial speech and gíria (slang)…the way that people really talk. 

Cariocas (people from Rio) have a very distinct way of speaking. For one, they pronounce certain “s” sounds like “sh”. So a carioca would pronounce the word escola (school) like “eh-sch-cola,” whereas other Brazilians would pronounce it like “eh-s-cola.” See the difference there? 

Personally, I love the carioca accent. I find it to be super melodic, sexy and sing-songey…but many Brazilians from outside Rio hate it (Although I’m pretty sure that this has less to do with the actual accent and more to do with the fact that they think cariocas are very full of themselves!). 

In case you’re curious as to how it sounds, the actor, Rodrigo Santoro (and the guy interviewing him here), has got a very typical Carioca accent: 

Nice, right?

Okay…so let’s get down to business. 

Shortening of Words 

For starters, in all of Brazil, you’ll find that certain words are shortened both when speaking and in informal writing or texting.

Most commonly, you’ll see and hear the following:

  • Estou –> to

Example: To em casa agora. (I’m at home now.)

  • Está –>tá

Example: Vc tá aqui? (Are you here?)

  • Estamos–>tamos

Example: Tamos terminados agora (We are finishing now.)

So you’ll never hear a Brazilian say “estou em casa agora.” The “es” is removed and it sounds just like “to em casa agora.” 

Carioca Slang 

And here’s a look at some of the most-used carioca slang words. Use these and you will sound like a true local…Just don’t use any of these words with your future boss or mother in law! 

mermão (agglutination of “meu”+”irmão”): my brother (something you might call a friend or even a stranger…goes to show how friendly Brazilians are!)

Example: Mermão, o que vc tá fazendo agora? (My brother, what are you doing now?)

caô (mentira): a lie

Example: Rodrigo sempre fala caô/Rodrigo sempre manda uns caôs. (Rodrigo always tells lies.)

Note: In this context, mandar means “falar” or “to tell.” But it generally translates to “to send.”

coé (agglutination of “qual” + “é”/oì): hey

Example: Coé mermão! E aì? (Hey brother, what’s up?) 

bolado/a (irritado; surpreso): irritated; surprised

Example #1: To bolado porque eu não consigo te ver. (I’m upset because I can’t see you).

Example #2: Viu o gol que o botafogo fez? Fiquei bolado. (Did you see the goal that Botafogo made? I was surprised.)

na moral (bem legal): better than expected; cool

Example #1: A festa foi na moral!! (The party was better than I expected!!)

Example #2: Fica na moral, aí. (Keep it cool there.)

é nós (estamos juntos!): you can count on me! 

Example: Valeu irmão, to indo nessa! é nós! (Ok dude, I’m heading out! You can count on me!) 

já é! (ok!; vamos!): ok!; let’s go! (depending on context)

Example #1:

-Vou ligar pra gente marcar uma parada! (I’ll call you so that we can do something!) 

-Já é! (Ok!) 

Example #2:

-A gente vai na festa agora? (Are we going to the party now?)

-Já é! (Let’s go!)

ta fechado! (ta combinado!): that works!/sounds good! 

Example:

-A gente se vê na sexta? (I’ll see you on Friday?) 

-Ta fechado! (Sounds good!) 

vazar (sair): to leave

Example: To vazando agora, então a gente se fala. (I’m leaving now so we’ll speak later.)

pode crer (é verdade): Right on! Word!

Example:

-A gente esqueceu de comprar cerveja! (We forgot to buy beer!)

– Pode crer! (Right on!)

zoar (se diverter; sacanear): to have fun; to make fun of

Example #1:

-Vc zuou na festa ontém? (Did you have fun at the party yesterday?) 

-Zuei!  (Yes!)

Side Note: As shown above, Brazilians will often respond to a yes or no question with just the conjugated verb. 

Example #2: Eles estão me zoando. (They are making fun of me)

valeu (tchau/obrigada): goodbye/thank you (depending on context)

Example #1: Vou sair agora. Valeu! (I’m leaving now. Bye!)

Example #2: Agora eu entendi…valeu! (Now I understand…thank you!)

partiu! (Vamos!) let’s go!

Example:

-Partiu Lapa hoje? (Let’s go to Lapa tonight?)

-Partiu! (Let’s go!) 

rolar (acontecer): to happen

Example: O que rolou hoje?? (What happened today?)

pica das galáxias/sinistro: badass

Example: Esse cara é pica das galáxias/sinistro!! (That guy is a total badass.)

sacar/se ligar (entender): to understand/to get something

Example: Vc tá sacando/tá ligado no que eu to dizendo? (Are you following/getting what I’m saying?)

caraca (nossa!): wow!

Example: Caraca! Eu adoro seu corte de cabelo! (Wow! I love your haircut!)

moleque AKA mlk (garota/cara): a guy

Example: Aquele moleque é bem bacana.  (That guy is really cool.)

Note: Moleque is an insult in the south of Brazil and can also be an insult in Rio, depending on the way that it’s used (translating to “punk”). Use with caution! 

ta de sacanagem?! (ta de brincadeira?!) Are you kidding me?!

Example:

-O Joao pegou a minha namorada… (Joao hit my girlfriend…)

-ta de sacanagem! (Are you kidding me!)

maluco (cara): guy

Example: Os dois malucos sao altos com o cabelo castanho. (The two guys are tall with brown hair).

irado (legal): awesome

Example: O Rio é uma cidade irada. (Rio is an awesome city.)

tu (você): you (When speaking informally, many cariocas will use “tu” instead of “você. But they don’t change the conjugation…they also do this in the south of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, as well. Except in RS, it’s not slang…it’s just the way that everyone speaks to one another). 

Example: Tu foi na academia hoje? (Did you go to the gym today?)

pingado (uma xícara de café com leite): a cup of coffee with milk

Example: Me vê um pingado. (I would like a coffee.–>Literally: Let me see the coffee.)

pista (balada): nightclub

Example: Tinham muitos pessoas na pista ontém a noite? (Were there a lot of people at the club last night?)

estar na pista: to be present; to be out on the prowl (single and ready to mingle)

Example #1: Só avisa par ele que eu to na pista. (Just tell him that I’m here/I will be there.)

Example #2: Ele tem um namorada ou ta na pista? (Does he have a girlfriend or is he out on the prowl?)

tirar onda: to show off

Example #1: Ele tira onda com esse carro!  (He is showing off with that car!) 

parada (coisa): thing

Example: Eu tenho que comprar algumas paradas. (I have to buy a few things.)

So there you have it! If you master all of that gíria, you’ll be sounding like a true carioca in no time. Gringo, who now?! 

26 Habits You’ll Pick Up While Living in Brazil

When many people think of Brazil, they think of beautiful, pristine beaches…carnival…festive music and dance…fútebol

Brazil is all of that…and so much more. It’s an incredibly diverse and unique country filled with many cultural idiosyncrasies that might seem strange to outsiders.

After spending just over a year living in Brazil, I’ve found that there are a few habits that every foreigner is almost certain to pick up (or at least witness) while living here. Here are 26 of them…

1. Hitchhiking

In the U.S., hitchhiking is illegal, and growing up, I was led to believe that hitchhiking was incredibly dangerous and frankly, just plain stupid (in fairness, maybe in the U.S. it is).

But in Brazil, hitchhiking is very common and generally safe (at least in Florianópolis and the safer cities of Brazil). So if you can’t get a ride somewhere, you’ll learn to just stand on the side of the road, stick your thumb up and wait for the first car to stop.

2. Wearing tiny bikini bottoms 

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Photo credit: Adam Kontor

In order to blend in on the beaches of Brazil, a tiny bikini is not just preferred–it’s mandatory. Preferably one that shows off your tan lines (which in my case, are nonexistent!).

While it may feel uncomfortable at first to bare so much skin, you’ll soon find it liberating. And after some time, you’ll almost definitely prefer the more revealing Brazilian bikini style and will find it difficult to revert to those “fraldas” (“diapers”) that everyone else around the world wears.

3. Crazy driving 

If there are no other cars around, most drivers in Brazil speed through stop signs and red lights. This isn’t something that police will ticket drivers for either.

Tailgating and passing cars illegally is the norm in Brazil. And many drivers will come so close to hitting pedestrians or the cars in front of them that you’ll wonder how accidents don’t happen more often.

4. Chilling red wine 

The first time I even knew that chilled red wine was a thing was when I was staying with a Brazilian family in Florida. They put red wine in the fridge and I thought it was the oddest thing…I thought that maybe they just didn’t know that red wine was supposed to be served unchilled!

But then I moved to Florianópolis and realized that everyone did it there too. Because of the warmer climate, Brazilians prefer to chill red wine prior to drinking it…and it’s actually pretty rare to see red wine served unchilled.

5. Making…and cancelling plans 

In Brazil, plans are made to be broken. So unless you make plans with someone at the last minute, chances are, whatever you had planned in advance is not going to happen.

After getting frustrated with this on more than one occasion, I’ve found that the best way to deal with it is just to make plans with multiple people because chances are, 3/4 of those people will cancel or flake in the end.

6. Listening to Brazilian music

One thing that I really love about Brazil is the music. There are so many different genres: sertanejo, rock, samba, funk, forro, MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira)…and personally, I love it all. I also love that almost everywhere you go in Brazil, you’ll hear Brazilian music—not foreign or American music.

After living in Brazil, you will inevitably accumulate a large playlist of different types of Brazilian music–and you’ll wonder why it’s not more famous worldwide.

7. Watching your belongings like a hawk

In the year and some months that I’ve lived in Brazil, I’ve had two iPhones stolen straight out of my purse.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson the first time, but many of these thieves are so smooth and slick that you often don’t even realize you’re being pickpocketed until after the fact.

I’m lucky enough that I was just pickpocketed both times–because just about every single Brazilian I have met has been robbed at gunpoint at some point in their lives. In many parts of Brazil, it’s not enough to be careful. You have to be super careful.

There are some places that are the exception to this (like Florianópolis and some of the smaller cities in Brazil), but in most larger cities, like Salvador, Porto Alegre, and Rio, you literally can never take your belongings out of your sight. Because the second you look away is the second that someone will rob you.

Want my two cents? Unless you are in Florianópolis or some of the smaller, safer cities in Brazil, make sure that you:

  1. Keep your purse closed at all times (I believe I was pickpocketed when I had my purse open to get money out and pay)
  2. Keep the zipper facing towards you (if it’s facing away from you, that makes it much easier for someone to open up your bag–which yes, does happen…a lot)
  3. Hold your purse up to your chest (I was pick-pocketed from a purse that hung down my shoulder)
  4. Hide your belongings in concealed travel bags and put your most valuable stuff there—that way, if you are robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint, you at least will have that remaining (hopefully).

8. Showering several times a day 

Brazilians have an obsession with cleanliness. They wash their hands numerous times throughout the day, keep their homes sparkling clean and brush their teeth about ten times a day.

Most Brazilians also shower at least twice a day. And during the hot, humid summers, many shower up to five times a day.

9. Greeting with a kiss 

Like in Europe, the standard way to greet someone in Brazil is with an air kiss (or two) on the cheek (so no, not an actual kiss…more like touching cheeks and making a kiss motion).

But in Bahia (known for its incredibly warm culture) people will often give real cheek kisses–with lips involved and everything.

10. Being more touchy-feely 

As a whole, Brazilians are very affectionate. There is a lot of kissing, touching and hugging that goes on between loved ones, family members, and even strangers.

Don’t be alarmed if a stranger lightly touches you on the shoulder or arm or if you see couples passionately making out in public.

And if you aren’t an affectionate person yourself, you might find it difficult to date a Brazilian (and vice versa). Or…you’ll just have to adapt.

11. Ending every conversation with “Beijos”

Brazilians are not only affectionate physically–they are also affectionate in the way that they speak to one another.

In Brazil, it’s almost rude to end a conversation and not say “beijos” (“kisses”).

If the relationship is more formal or professional, then you might hear “abraços” (“hugs”) instead. Although not always. It’s totally normal for doctors to say “beijos” to their patients, for instance (this has happened to me on more than one occasion!).

In the U.S., I’m pretty sure something like this would constitute as some form of sexual harassment or at the very least, be considered weird and creepy. Personally, I love it.

12. Calling strangers “flor” and “querida” 

When I first moved to Floripa, I lived with a Brazilian girl for four months. She called me “flor” (“flower”) so much that I actually started to wonder if she thought that was my name. I soon realized that this was just her affectionate nickname for me.

So don’t be surprised if strangers (or friends) call you nicknames like “flor” or “querido(a)” (dear) instead of your name. This is just yet another Brazilian way of showing affection.

13. Eating avocado as a fruit 

Okay, so technically, avocado is a fruit. But in the U.S., we treat it like a vegetable.

In Brazil, avocado is not something you’ll find in things like salads or sushi. Instead, it’s often treated more like a desert, mixed with condensed milk, sugar, chocolate syrup and the like.

14. Drinking exotic fruit juices 

Maracuja….pitanga…caju…cupuaçu…guarana…the list goes on. In Brazil, you’ll taste fruits that you never even knew existed, often served as juices.

When I was in Bahia, I tried a cacau caipirinha–basically composed of cachaça, sugar, cacau juice and cacau seeds….yup, the seeds that are used to make chocolate.

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15. Finding a way 

The other night, I was talking to a Brazilian friend of mine and was saying how, if I wanted to live in Brazil (or anywhere in the world), I believe I (or anyone) could find a way to do that. Screw visa regulations and all of that. No matter what it is, if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. He laughed and said to me, “you’re so Brazilian.”

Because in Brazil, there’s an expression called “dar un jeito” (“find a way”). This expression sums up Brazilian culture in a lot of ways. Basically, if you want to do something, then you find a way to make it happen. You dá um jeito. 

16. Throwing toilet paper in the trash can..not the toilet 

In Brazil (perhaps like many other developing countries), you aren’t supposed to throw toilet paper in the toilet, since this can clog the sewage system. Gross, but yes, it’s supposed to go in the adjacent trash can instead.

17. Taking your time 

In Brazil, time just moves a bit slower. People are very relaxed; you won’t see many people rushing around from place to place.

So as you can probably guess, Brazilians also aren’t the most punctual people. Everyone and everything always runs a little bit late, even business meetings. Although people do seem to be a bit more punctual in the South of Brazil (thanks to that European influence).

Bottom line: If you’re someone who’s always on time, you might have to adjust your schedule a bit in Brazil.

18. Drinking strong (and sugary) coffee 

Brazilians make their coffee super strong and tend to drink just a little at a time, generally in small expresso cups. And often, there’s a lot of sugar involved.

Oh, and be careful if you order a cappuccino in Brazil. At most places, a “cappuccino” is not a cappuccino…It’s basically an incredibly sugary and chocolatey coffee drink. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

19. Drinking beer out of small cups

In Brazil, it’s pretty much sacrilege to drink beer that is anything less than ice cold. So instead of drinking beer out of large glasses, Brazilians tend to drink beer out of small copinhos (cups). That way, the beer is still cold by the time you finish it. Genius, right?!

20. Waxing it all off 

Umm hellooo, it’s called the “Brazilian” bikini wax for a reason.

In Brazil, most women wax all of their nether parts on a regular basis (which yes, is incredibly painful the first time…but fortunately, gets less and less painful the more you do it.)

Luckily, this habit isn’t one that will break the bank. While in the U.S., a Brazilian bikini wax costs at least $50-$60 (and probably more with that damn tip that’s required!), in Brazil, I never paid more than a total of $10 USD for a Brazilian wax.

21. Saying “maybe” instead of “no” 

Brazilians are not the most direct people and generally do anything to try and avoid conflict.

For that reason, they will rarely flat-out decline an invitation. Instead, they will say “maybe” and then decline later…or just not show up. While in North American culture, this is considered rude, in Brazil, this is totally normal and expected. Ironically, it’s just their way of trying to be polite!

Oh, and if a Brazilian says “yes” to an invitation, then that really means “maybe” (see #5 for more on that).

22. Only texting via Whatsapp 

Brazilians don’t text—they Whatsapp.

If you aren’t a Whatsapp user before coming to Brazil, you definitely will become one while living here. And once you start using Whatsapp, you’ll wonder why you ever used any other platform to communicate.

24. Drinking agua de coco 

In Brazil, agua de coco (coconut water) is omnipresent, especially on the coast. And it’s almost always served in the actual coconut (even in restaurants).

Warning: You’ll get used to drinking it this way and if you ever have to go back to bottled coconut water, it will probably be a tough adjustment!

25. Breaking the rules 

I was once talking with a Brazilian who lived in the U.S. and found it difficult to adapt because of all the strict rules. Because in Brazil, rules are made to be broken. Granted, this probably helps explain all of the political mayhem too.

But it is nice to live in a place where you don’t have to worry about being penalized for something like drinking a beer in the middle of the street or jaywalking (true story: I got a $170 jaywalking ticket in Los Angeles…and my friend got a jaywalking ticket in L.A. for crossing the street when the “don’t walk” sign had just started flashing!).

26. Not sweating the small stuff 

The bus running late? Oh well. Read a book!

Missing 20 cents to pay the cab driver? No biggie. Fique tranquilo. 

Brazilians are a very laid-back bunch. After living in Brazil, that relaxed attitude will inevitably rub off on you–and you’ll wonder why everyone else around the world is so uptight and stressed all the time.

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