rené schaap
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René Schaap
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A Dutch Alien in Brazil - part 01

A Dutch Alien in Brazil - part 01,
I write the following because i feel i have to… These Dutch Alien in Brazil series are all my personal experiences and feelings of my life in Brazil.

Update: one fellow Alien told me after reading my blog he thought of a great song from Sting… the song lyrics says it all, so enjoy this video first before reading:

I feel people in Brazil do not understand me sometimes, or 'get me wrong'. I have had some experiences last few years with situations and with people in Brazil that led to things that i did not expect. Happily mostly positive ones but also some negative ones. April 2013. I have a CPF and a Brazilian ID card. "Classifição Permanente" it says. At the same time i found out that after almost 6 years i am still a kind of Alien in Brazil.………. Why? That i was asking myself. Because when i know.. i can solve it… yes? sim? ja?

The easy part
Calvé Pindakaas
Since i moved to Brazil all details of my life in Netherlands changed. This is not a complaint, but is is something important, and it is for real. Most things in Brazil are easy to adapt, my great family i have here and the very friendly people i have here around me in Brazil , the parties , the nature, the sun, the beach nearby etc etc. After a while i started to miss certain things…. specific foods for example. Do not get me wrong, the food in Brazil is on a high standard in quality and taste… but i missed my bread with peanut butter in the morning. It even must be from a specific brand… ooh yeah! Calvé. This can sound stupid … i know, but it was something i missed. So i thought, what i miss, i must arrange and so i did. On a regular basis i receive peanut butter from the Netherlands send by friends and family, i receive the tea that i like and some special candy we eat at the cold flat lands called drop and Fishermans's Friends. Other foods like Haché , Sauerkraut with potato, bami and kroket i make them myself with the Brazilian ingredients that i have here. Some of my Brazilian family members love my dutch cooking also. And on top of all did my mother visit me some weeks here in Brazil. What you miss, you must arrange :)

Making some Haché

When i started to make that dutch food i found out that all food ingredients and spices have another name… good for learning the language better. Yes, and spend at least four times as much time for groceries than normal because you cannot find what you need …. or bring some Pimenta (Peppers) in stead of Pimentão (Paprika) back to home. Search 1,5 hour in the supermarket for Vanilla, and learn it is called Baunilha here .. hahaaa. This is not only happening when i buy food, it is with all i want to buy or ask…. my equipment and electronic parts i need for my company, things i try to buy to repair something in our house , even a present for my Adriana. All is different. You have also to find this new places , shops and malls where you can buy what you want. I have to explain myself to the salesperson in portuguese, and they have always a question back :) Sometimes it gives me some frustration, because i could not buy what i wanted , like yesterday i went myself to open a bank account… i did not manage because my portuguese is not good enough and the bank employee could not speak any english. I feel i have to depend on others for the most simple things and actions, in which i can do in a snap of my finger when i am in the Netherlands or any country where people speak english.. or dutch. I also knew nothing about Brazilian music, politics, history, art or the Brazil topographic. I feels to be set back in time and learn some of the local basics when you are about 6 years old. Some think here i am not smart because of that…of not knowing or understanding some basics. But i can say they just do not understand what it is to have your life what you knew for 40 years.. turned 180 degrees…. and need to learn some of these basics again. For me this is like i am breaking all the time when i drive on an uphill road on my bike… It is slow… it is hard, but it goes.

René do Praia

Learning the Language
That is the solution, That will solve all. Learning to communicate in Portuguese. From child on i am not fast in learning a new language, besides that i past 40…. than catching-up a new language goes much slower than with younger people. A lot of people around me react surprised to me that i am that slow in learning it, but that's it. I cannot learn it faster, i have to accept that. I also have to run a company in Netherlands from out Brasil, that also eats time and patience and is really not easy to do. Think of the 5 hour time difference already! To combine it with an extra language study is difficult. But….. i will not give up!!! , because i have to teach our Schapie besides dutch also some portuguese words. And do not forget besides Dutch i also speak English and German + little of other languages, i hope Schapie will be a better student than i was ;)

Because i am still learning my 4th language it is for me still very difficult to communicate … every day…all the time… even with my own family. I cannot speak dutch here and have to speak in my secondary language english to communicate with my wife, my family, friends etc etc…. and that is not easy. To show your 'feelings' in another language is damn difficult. Besides the talking, also listening is part of communication…. i sometimes cannot catchup with the talks. With a room full of people it's like being deaf. Everybody is talking around me and i cannot react when i want and how i want… i am not fast enough to understand what's about, you cannot even laugh when somebody makes a joke. Besides that it is sometimes about specific brazilian things and subjects… in which i do not know mostly. Or i am just missing one or two words in a sentence and than losing all what's about. The songs they sing together in a party .. and i cannot sing with them together because i do not know these old and famous songs. Than you can feel very alone in that room full of people. You are not realy part of this group. Because of that i miss certain details to react to people in the right way…… people can understand my reaction totally wrong and than get a wrong idea about me, and because as being raised in The Netherlands… i also react different sometimes. But also the feeling and enjoyment is different than when i would have being able to have learned it all 40 years ago.

Language habits
Dutch and Brazilians are in some case… the same and opposite.

But the language alone is not the solution. But …..why not! you think? , it helps a lot… of course. Because i will always be a kind of Alien here…. because of the way i have being brought up by my parents and grand parents, with the almost 40 years living and working in the Netherlands. That is something you cannot just delete in a person it is in my core as a human being. I am a dutch guy, living in Brazil. Accepting my changed world and try to cope with it. But still i will react in an other way that Brazilians do in some cases, or i do things in an other way than Brazilians would do… I think different about certain things. Walk on the beach when it is raining. Watch different things on TV, like Ice speed skating on a hot summer sunday or saying something 'direct' but honest to a person. I do not like that people promise me something, and than not keep their word. When you make a bet.. than finalise it. When you agree in a business partnership to respect each others clients… than do so. When i do a job for you… pay me! If you cannot manage our business meeting in time... inform me… call me. Does it make me a bad person or a strange person when i say something about that? ! … for me those are normal things, for others sometimes not. Do others have to ignore me because of this? I do not hope so, but it makes me an Alien Brazilian for sure. It is not possible for me… or any other foreigner btw to cope and understand all these specific Brazilian habits in just 6 years, and for Brazilians it will not be possible to understand my Dutch way that easy for example… it is just accepting eachother.

I have a lot of new friends in Brazil who also come from other countries than Brazil, i know some of them have the same experiences as i have. I do not care Brazilians call me a Gringo here, i am one for them ……. but i do care that some ignore me because i am one… because i am different, think different, react different.

Watch different things, like Ice speed skating on a hot summer sunday

The results for me: it is difficult to fit in, even when you get this warm welcome always. it is difficult here to build a new network with friends, business partners & clients like i had in my 'first' country. it is difficult to get a job ( i am expensive because i am a Gringo is the first thought in Brasil ) , as a company for me it is difficult to get into a project because of the different way in doing business ( i am learning ), it is difficult being ignored by some people or even being cheated behind my back for some money…. but also to find those new real friends.. to spend some time with… being personally invited as René , doing some gaming together… playing some pool… watch sports together or just having a beer and talk. I know for some of you this all sounds small, for me it became big. This all will take time… a lot of time. I know that. I must just have the patience to build my life here so i can be fully happy. The new adventure Schapie will help me a lot with that for sure, i am looking forward to it and concentrate in that… being a father. I will also not give up, and fight for what i am worth for to learn portuguese and understand Brazil and Brazilians better.

What i hope for is that it also works in both directions and the people around me will still able to give me some patience, some space , support , time and respect for who i am…. because that will give me as a Dutch Alien in Brazil exactly what need to become a better Brazilian, better person and great father. I am not saying anybody must do this, it is your own choice. So… yes…. i can solve it. yes, i will not give up… i put my teeth in it. I will have to catchup in all that Brazilians know already all their life. I love Brazil and it's people, it's habits.. all of it. With the help and support of my Adriana, my family and support of some fellow Aliens here in Brazil i can.

If you want to read a portuguese version of this blog, copy/paste the link of this page into Google Translate than you can already experience a little what i do every day with every portuguese text i have to read ;)

Be yourself no matter what they say.

Muito obrigado e Abraços

Enjoy these video's, to understand me and other Aliens better:

Calvé Pindakaas

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