Being originally from Brazil and living there for 14 years (and in North America for almost two), I was able to compare the strangest habits that us Latinos have. Whenever I tell my American friends some of our few customs, I get endless raised eyebrows. If you ever think about visiting South America someday, you may find what’s below really helpful tips to fit in.
1. Offering People A Shower
No, it’s not because someone is implying you are smelly or having an intention with you. It’s just a Brazilian way to be kind with their guests (including the ones that are not staying over). Brazilians are very hygienic people, especially the ones that are physically active, probably because Brazil is a really hot and tropical country, and it’s always summer over there. They tend to take at least two to four showers per day. Asking a guest that just entered your house if he wants to hop in the shower is not odd at all in Brazil.
2. Sentimental Hellos and Goodbyes
For many places in Latin countries, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. They tend to be really friendly to people as soon as they meet them. In Brazil for example, we talk to everyone with the same level of informality regardless of wealth or status level. There, you wouldn’t just say ‘’hi.” Either greeting a stranger, a teacher, a friend that you know you’ll see the next day or a friend you may have just seen yesterday, you would give two pecks on each other’s cheeks followed by a sequence of a hug (that looks like more as they have just been released from two decades in solitary confinement). If you are talking to someone, you will maintain eye contact with this person, and even touch them if possible (this has nothing to do with flirting). Finally, when saying goodbye (as in, see you tomorrow, not forever), you have to give your farewells to each person in the group. This means that good-nights can really take a long time. I would have to say goodbye about a half an hour before I actually have to leave.
3. Pizzas / Covering Pizzas with Ketchup
I know that Europeans cover French fries with mayonnaise, but some places take this to a whole new level. Eating pizza in Brazil means covering it with ketchup. You take a sachet of ketchup (since they rarely come in bottles there) and drown your pizza with it.
Our pizzas are straight from the wood oven. Just like in Italy, we also eat it with knife and fork because the amount of toppings on our pizzas are extremely big. We have a diversity of toppings that can be sampled at a traditional Brazilian rodiziostyle restaurant. A rodizio style restaurant is an all-you-can-eat restaurant. It refers to paying a fixed price and enjoying the waiters bringing all different types of a certain food to you, all night, until you have had enough. It only applies to steakhouse, pizza, pasta and sushi places. The different ingredients and flavors make the toppings go from cheese to nutella. Ingredients of the regular pizzas include hearts of palm, fresh corn, catupiry cheese, mashed potatoes, curried shredded chicken, ham, tomatoes, and potato sticks. A Brazilian pizza feast wouldn’t be complete without a delicious dessert pizza. It includes chocolate, ice cream, strawberries, cooked apples, nutella, bananas, dulce de leche (doce de leite in Portuguese), whipped cream and romeu e julieta (a combination of guava paste with mozzarella cheese). Pizza has few limits in Brazil, plus, it’s really hard to resist.
When you have the opportunity to visit different places and when you let the culture’s influence of perception of life affect you (by fitting into their culture), you create a feeling of experience. You feel experienced because you were able to live and adapt into what you are not used to. It can be negative, but experiencing another culture is really positive to me.
‘’Perception and thought are not independent of the cultural environment; therefore, our brains are both shaped by the external world and shape our perception of the external world. Being able to compare different countries is the neurological process of becoming aware of our environment and is affected by our cultures.’’ –Culture’s Influence on Perception