Moving to a new country can be a confusing experience. It’s even more so when the country is on a different time zone, in a different continent, and the people use a completely different language. It has been quite an experience coming to Brazil.
But all these new experiences also can make small achievements feel significant.
Back home in London, I would never have considered it an achievement to go out for a meeting, and then to come home again. But drop yourself in an unfamiliar city of 20m people where very few can use English, and then try the same thing.
Yesterday I went out alone, got a bus and metro into town, went and charged up my metro card, ordered a few beers and some snacks, and managed to get two buses to come home again.
It’s simple stuff, but when I got back I felt happy that I can now feel fairly confident negotiating my way around the city and ordering some basic food and drinks and all without anyone speaking English. And with over 1,000 bus routes and no simple spider maps, São Paulo can be a challenge by bus even for the locals – you just have to learn which buses go where because there is no information at the bus stops.
All this makes me feel so much more enthusiastic about improving my Portuguese.