At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I became friends with a girl from Brazil. I thought she was going to be another classmate, but she became one of my most loyal friends.
In American culture, more times than not, we like having our own space. At the movies and church, we keep at least a seat in between each other. This way of life in America has gotten worse since smartphones have taken over.
I met my Brazilian friend in the hallway before our first day of Photography class, and her demeanor was so different. She sat next to me in class and smiled more than most people do. I've learned so much from her and I know everyone can benefit from having a friend like her.
Here are six things I've learned from my Brazilian best friend.
1. Be kind
My friend is always there to give me a hug, and a kind word of affirmation. Being around her brings out a selfless side of me. I want to be kind and loving to people.
2. Some things we say in America are weird
For example, turtleneck shirts? In Brazil, they call them high neck shirts, which makes more sense.
3. How to speak Portuguese
Yeah, I might only know how to say "Hi, how are you doing," "Good!" and "Bye," but I'm working on it, and that's one conversation more than I knew before I met her.
4. America is one tiny part of a big world
I feel like a lot of us know this already, but there is a lot of danger we don't have to face in America. In the Favelas, people are at risk to get shot just by driving by the area. There is much more danger in some areas of Brazil. In some cities, most families have gates around their houses.
Aside from the danger, though, there is more to know about the world outside America. There is so much beauty, art, and food to experience in Brazil!
5. Going out is so much more fun than staying home
In Brazil, the streets are filled with people. Yes, in NYC that is also true, but there are so many more people out and about in Brazil. The streets are always filled with people because they like to be out and about in the city.
I've learned that their culture is a big group of people who are more in touch with their community, which is something some of us Midwesterners miss out on.
6. Pao De Queijo is the best snack
Please try it. It is a cheesy bread many Brazilians eat as a snake during the late afternoon. You can get some Pao De Queijo at Target.
My life before meeting her was missing out on a lot. I've learned so much about her culture, the music, food, fashion, community, government, and it's broadened my worldview.
It's really humbled me to learn about Brazil and her family's way of life. If you ever get the chance to meet a Brazilian, or anyone from a different culture, learn from them. Be open to a life that's different from the way you live yours.