A lot of gringoes ask me how to meet people and make friends in Brazil.
Brazilians are very friendly and outgoing, but they also need a lot of reassurance before they make an actual friend that is not someone they´ve known forever or a family member. They tend to stick to a closed group of friends and seldom go out without one or more of these friends. Unlike Europeans and North Americans. a Brazilian will never go to a party without knowing anyone. If a Brazilian is invited to a party that was not arranged by a group he knows well, he will either take his group, his girlfriend or family members with him. This means that you will have a tougher time than in the US, say, where people tend to move around alone. Life can get lonely here unless you are married or living with a Brazilian, in which case you can join your spouses/companion´s family/group.
The best way to make friends in Brazil is studying, teaching or working (in a school, university or office). If you are a language teacher, start off in a regular language school even if the pay is less. Then you can teach our private students and compensate the financial loss. Forget about teaching one-to-one all the time unless you want to roam the city streets alone forever. If you work in a language school, you will probably make friends with other gringoes before you make friends with a Brazilian, but you have to start somewhere.If not, enroll in a course, preferably a university programme. Study groups are usually closed, but just seeing you there in class everyday will boost their confidence.
You can also make friends in bars and parties, but they tend to be more superficial. The kind that invites you over but doesn´t expect you to actually appear. In order to make real friends, you have to do something with Brazilians, like study or work. Few people know this, but Brazilians are incredibly insecure. They need time to investigate, ask you about your background, engage in 5-minute chats by the coffee machine on a daily basis… They don´t like deep conversations, so forget about being to frank and direct about your problems. Keep it light until someone invites you over for lunch….then you can consider yourself “befriended” and accepted inside their circle of acquaintances.