Meeting people in Brazil

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.

8 responses to “Meeting people in Brazil

  1. Oi. Quem estiver buscando um amigo brasileiro pode me contatar, estou à disposição. Eu também gostaria muito de fazer novas amizades. Podemos também ajudar um ao outro no Inglês e o Português. =D

    Hi. Anyone seeking a Brazilian friend can contact me, I am available. I also would love to make new friends. We can also help each other in English and Portuguese. = D

    My Facebook – facebook.com/vitor.livingstone / My Skype – livingbarross / My Phone +55 11 9 85955962

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  2. I find myself in Brazil for two weeks on business. I was hoping to make a friend or two just to hang out with and maybe serve as a tour guide. From my reading here, it sounds like that is a pretty far fetched idea huh? I am also a photographer, but every time I mention that I want to go out and take photos, every response I get is ended with, “be careful with your camera, you can get robbed…” as if it is not safe to just be out and about on the street taking photos? This troubles me because I really enjoy the essence of Brazil. I’ve never been here before and it is conceivable that I may never return. Is it really that unsafe to be out? Is there a collective of Europeans in Brazil, or perhaps Americans that I can connect with? Perhaps that would be the solution for finding someone to hang out with during my stay here?

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    • Thanks for your comment. It all depends where you are going in Brazil and where you would like to go. Some foreigners get really excited and end up in a favela with a camera around their necks, so the general rule is to stay out of certain places and don´t be tooooo adventurous. Most Brazilians, rich and poor, are already used to foreigners. In poorer parts of Brazil (north, north-east) you might find a willing tour guide but you will have to pay for everything and might be taken advantage of. It´s all, and I mean all, a question of intuition. Even Brazilians are easy targets to bad people. Making friends in two weeks is tough, but you could visit gringoes.com or one of those sites to find out about get-togethers. You can also try pubs and bars owned by foreigners (Irish, American bars, etc.).
      You can and should enjoy the essence of Brazil. If you are smart and used to dealing with all types of people, you will have a great time here. It´s not unsafe to be out, it´s just unsafe to be in certain places. If you are interested, I could ask a very close and incredibly street-wise friend to show you around. She actually enjoys it and knows incredible places, but she lives in São Paulo. If not, tell me which city you will be in and I can do some research for you and ask around. No charge.

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  3. Interesting to read your perception of brazilians. I’ve noticed that in general brazilians do enjoy the companionship of the group they belong to, but they also have an ease to start an informal conversation with anyone. It happens in an airplane, waiting room of any sort, at a bar or at a bank line. Brazilians are in general very informal people, don’t you agree? Maybe, that is why they seem at ease when talking to someone they’ve never met before. The mistrust found in the culture may have a deep root into the past that shaped the culture along the years, a survival skill that became a cultural trace? I will come back later to further comment because I have a limited amount of time now….

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    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, Brazilians are incredibly informal. I think they only feel at ease in informal situations. Many times I have struck conversation with Brazilians that did not know me at all in airports, waiting rooms, restaurants, ladies rooms even. The problem with us gringos, I think, is that we confuse this informality with friendship and are sometimes disappointed when it doesn´t lead to anything. The experience that most of us have in our native countries is that people rarely talk to people they don´t know, but when they do it usually leads to something. Brazilians create an informal environment to feel more “secure” or at ease, but then nothing much happens after that. They don´t like talking about complex issues either. They usually feel very insecure when you talk about something they know nothing or little about. It can be a good thing, like when you need to know something, like directions, or when you feel like just chatting, but it can be very frustrating when you actually want to make friends. That is why I say Brazilians are incorrectly considered “friendly”. I don´t think it´s mistrust, just insecurity, not feeling secure enough with people that are not family or close friends to build a real friendship, with home visits and everything. Some of my gringo friends have given up inviting people out (usually alone, as we are used to doing) because they are always left standing at the door of the theatre and have to spend the rest of the evening alone. It´s incredibly common. I don´t know which cultural trait that is related to.

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  4. “Unlike Europeans and North Americans. a Brazilian will never go to a party without knowing anyone.” I’m so sorry, this is not true. And you can’t be so generalist. By “european” do you mean a latin or a nordic? Can we put together quebecois and people from San Francisco simply because they are americans from the North? I believe not. The same for brazilians. I’m going to tell you what I know by experience: the best way to make friends in São Paulo is simply going out. Choose the kind of place you like: live music venues, clubs, pubs… I asure you the nightlife in São Paulo is bigger than all european capitals, maybe comparable to London. And I bet you will never repent to try a chat with somebody in the night. Unless the person doesn’t speak english, wich is very common.

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    • It´s funny how Brazilians love the generalization “Brazilians are friendly” but never include themselves when it´s not so positive. Yes, you can generalize when it comes to Europeans in some cases, as with just about everything we generalize about. Generalization comes from years of observation. Europeans have no problem in being alone. They live alone, travel alone, go to parties alone and make friends alone. Brazilians seldom understand the one-to-one friendship. Very few of them will actually show up to an invitation made by one person they don´t know really well where no one else is invited unless it´s for courtship purposes. In my 20 years living in Brazil, the only people who always come to the party alone (because they alone were invited) are the Europeans and North Americans. The Brazilians either bring kids and spouses or the entire family, with sogra included. Brazilians are emotional people. They find it very difficult to relate instantly without some sort of pre-established emotional bond (the person knows someone they know, etc.). If you are alone in a club full of Brazilians can you honestly tell me they will not think you are just a little bit weird. And if you don´t speak Portuguese, you might as well give up before even entering. I know hundreds of gringoes in São Paulo and other cities in Brazil and they all suffer when it comes to friendship. Some are lucky enough to marry a Brazilian so they are absorbed into her/his family and circle of friends, but Brazilian spouses do not approve of their husbands or wives having individual friends outside the circle they have created. Some gringoes are just tired of having to see the same people all the time and not having the freedom to make their own friends. Brazilians move in crowds, and crowds they know well. Loners and people who trust loners are extremely rare. So yes, I think I can generalize.

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      • All right, well… As a Brazilian, I could say that people in here are really insecure, but I realised you put such a very critical viewpoint about us, I agree that most of people engaged do not go out or make friend without their “family”. It is common among us… Brazilians with other brazilians is not allowed to have any sort of relationship to another due to their insecurity.

        I’m gonna explain better why you gringoes have those views of us. It starts by the teaching process… Since a child people here are unfortunately raised among corupts, I mean the government manipulates all kind of services: School, health, police, food, exportation, jobs, and internal regiment. So what happens here, it’s that our education is based into all these bad influences. It is even worse when it comes from the President. Education has been the huge problem. It is too weak the teaching method (because it is developed by the government), the qualification from the teachers, the subjects whose are involved as well. Poverty brings up people into a radical manner which reaches most of population and those whom has been raised in the Favela, are the worst of these quotes. Although few people whom got better financial conditions are those who studies in private school and ride a better car, who has the opportunity to really grow with certain structure, but the most when they do, become selfish or only cares about their own. Then yes! few people are reliable to hang out or make friends. Nevertheless I keep saying “THERE IS ALWAYS A DIAMOND AMONG TOO MANY STONES” let me know if you are interested to know more about our culture and how everything works around here.

        My name is YURI, if you wanna become friends or even only mates, I’m right over here.

        I will be glad to hang out with you….

        Best regards,

        My contact e-mail : yurilacrimanti@gmail.com
        Skype: yuri.lacrimanti
        Facebook: Yury Lacrimanti

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