April 19, 2014, by Guest blog
We’re all able to make connections despite our cultural differences
Studying two languages requires you to make a lot of different connections, both in terms of travelling by plane to different countries and by constantly meeting new people but also by changing environment and trying to communicate in different languages. If you are able to hold even a simple conversation in Brazil, people are often impressed and ask how you know Portuguese. The response is often related to the fact I have already studied Spanish and so make a lot of connections with the words I know in Spanish to try and respond as well as I can in Portuguese!
Having been in Brazil for nearly two months I have found myself constantly meeting new people and learning new things, especially about the language and culture. The culture is something Brazilians take pride in and it is good fun learning the slang and expressions they use which requires me to make a lot of linguistic connections trying to remember their meanings!
Family is very important in Brazil and it is something you pick up on fairly quickly when making connections and getting to know the culture! I live with a family from the church and through them I have met lots of family members and have been gradually getting to know them and the family story. At different family events I often find myself learning something new about the family or meeting a family member who will be another part of the puzzle I am working out in my head whilst making connections!
I think most people find when they go to Latin America that relationships are more important than productivity which us Europeans hold in high regard. I have found that meeting new people and spending time getting to know each other over tasks at the pre-school, where I am a volunteer, or over making brigadeiro (one of the most common Brazilian sweet treats!) I have been able to make deeper connections with people fairly quickly in the short time I have been here. By meeting lots of students here too I have realised that I not stopped meeting new people as everyone has friends they want to introduce me to!
Having come from Spain I have had to readjust and get to know a different culture, people and language but one of the things I have been discovering most whilst being on my Year Abroad is that we are all the same and are able to make connections despite our cultural differences!
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