As a kid, I was largely influenced by American movies and TV shows because they are more popular in Brazil than most of our own productions. I grew up picturing the chaotic streets and exciting buildings of New York, the long and deserted Route 66, and the beaches and avenues of Los Angeles.
The lure wasn’t so much about the scenery because my country has also quite wonderful (and sometimes even similar) sights. It was more about the feeling I got from the films. I remember being shocked when I discovered that the voices talking in Portuguese were actually voiceovers. From that day on, I became fascinated with understanding the culture and language of those characters I admired so much.
So, when I encountered myself packing and moving to the place I used to watch through the screen, I was just excited to experience the simple things I had only seen on TV.
- Winter Wonderland. Of course, the first thing I wanted to see with my own eyes was snow. Winters in Brazil hardly go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea of making snow angels and ice skating on real frozen lakes may sound cliché for those who are used to it, but for me, it was definitely something I wanted to cross off my bucket list. Even one year and several days of snow after coming to the U.S., every time I see snowflakes falling, I stop and watch it for a little bit, no matter where I am. Everything looks so beautiful covered in snow.
- The American Way of Junk Food. Brazilian junk food is just different. Most of our sweet treats have some kind of fruit in it. After all, it is a tropical country. On the other hand, American desserts and candy are better known for its richer, sugary flavors. With marshmallows on top. So, being a foodie as I am, trying new foods is definitely an item on my to-do list when I travel. I thought I knew a lot about the country, but I for sure didn’t know that Americans can pretty much fry (or deep-fry) anything: Oreos, ice cream, raviolis, pickles, pizza, etc. Seriously. I have tried a lot of them and what can I say? If you have something good and you fry it, it just gets better.
- Cheering in Big Arenas. Sports are also a big cultural difference between the United States and where I’m from. First off, in Portuguese, “futebol” is the word we use for soccer because that is a ball game where you use your feet, and that’s our most popular sport. We are not used to playing American football. Or baseball. High schools and universities back home hardly take sports seriously. Most of them do have teams and they do compete against each other, but is mostly all for fun. In college, there is no constant cheering for our school mascots. That is reserved for maybe once or twice a year when we have what we call “college games” – a weekend of camping and games between universities. There are different games for those who are in the School of Arts and Communication, or School of Business, etc. Because of all that, I was very excited to cheer for my university (Go Grizzlies!) and to watch all the truly American sports live. Typical snacks included.