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AMA

I am from a third world country, ask me anything!

28 replies

CatOwned · 08/07/2018 13:22

The country is Brazil.

OP posts:
Gruach · 08/07/2018 13:31

I’m given to understand (from MN) that worries about choosing a nice house, interior decoration, finding a good school, dressing well and enjoying leasure activities are all ‘first world problems’.

As you speak for the entire non-first-world - can you tell me if these assumptions are correct?

RickOShay · 08/07/2018 13:32

My favourite people in the world.Grin

Gruach · 08/07/2018 13:32

(‘Scuse typo. Meant ‘leisure’.)

Ilovewhippets · 08/07/2018 13:34

I've been to Brazil and I thought it was absolutely beautiful but everyone warned us before we went about crime in cities.
Do you feel unsafe there?

Brendatheblender · 08/07/2018 13:39

Ive always wanted to visit Brazil. Would you say it was safe for tourists?

CatOwned · 08/07/2018 16:22

Whoa, questions! I thought no one would have any.

@Gruach: I may not be the best person to answer, because while I was born and live in Brazil, I am very privileged in many ways: I am white (I am often amazed by how racist a country with a black majority can be!) and could afford things such as private education and health insurance.

Owning a house is a big goal in life, if you can afford it. Rent is ridiculous, to the point there are more empty houses than homeless people in Brazil. The apartment I currently rent (2 bed) for university costs me 1350 reais, roughly 250 pounds. Minimum wage, however, is currently a little under 1000 reais. So, like I said, I am privileged.

Interior designing is very much a rich people thing. Social class, by the way, is very much about money. There's a huge divide between the truly rich and the poor/middle class.

Good schooling is a problem. Sometimes I read complaints about state schools over there and shake my head, because that's something I don't think mumsnetters realise how lucky they are. It's very frustrating that we pay so much taxes, and yet don't get it back in public services. I would say, based on my experience with poorer people, that the only thing that comes before private education is private health insurance. It's often on the news how people get called for treatment years after they pass away.

Dressing well... I don't think it's a big focus, to be honest. Even people who can afford to buy designer stuff usually buy tees and shorts. It's too bloody hot for many layers of clothes, which means less options to "dress well".

Leisure activities, well, it depends a lot. I live in a reasonable big city (700,000), but there really isn't much to do. When we want to hang out, it's usually to a bar (I don't drink) or to the mall. So, if you want to do something fun, it costs, and it costs a lot. I love plays and orchestras, but it's not something I can do every weekend, or even every month. In February, I attended a ballet with DM and it cost us half a minimum wage, for two hours of entreteniment.
It really varies on where you are - I lived in the northeast Brazil for a while, and I would go to the beach every weekend, which could be free, if you didn't buy anything.

@Ilovewhippets Yes, I do, especially being a woman. There's a huge rape culture. A student was recently raped in my university by another student, and they are keeping it very hush-hush. I worry nothing is going to be done. Most Brazilians consider someone who wears revealing clothes deserves to be raped Angry


@Brendatheblender Despite all I wrote above, I do recommend Brazil for tourists. The most expensive part of travelling abroad is buying the tickets, so both by necessity and choice I've travelled around Brazil a lot.
I will tell you this: it's very easy to spot foreigners, which makes it easy to rob one. I'm not sure what it is (I suspect the clothes), but it doesn't take a conversation.
It doesn't mean you will be robbed, however. I was never robbed (only by cleaners and the like), and I've been to events rife for robbery: the 2014 world cup, and the Rio Olympics, for example. On public transport, carry your backpack in your front or sit on it; use your card instead of carrying money, and try to avoid using a cellphone in public.

Additionally, you can get a lot of value for your money here because of the current exchange rate. I'm travelling to continental Europe next week and it's going to cost much more than the last time, in 2012, because the exchange rate almost doubled.

Let me know what you like, and I'll recommend some places.

OP posts:
Chuckle2 · 08/07/2018 16:27

What do you think of Curitiba's transport system? It's studied as part of the GCSE/ Level geography in England Grin

Carecomplet · 08/07/2018 16:37

Whereabouts in Brazil do you live? What's the climate like there? Do you have lots of spiders??

Is society very divided upon racial lines?

Is there a welfare state at all? What happens if you get sick and don't have private healthcare?

Gruach · 08/07/2018 16:39

Thank you OP

NCPuffin · 08/07/2018 16:46

Are women very worried about Zika? Are Havaianas as popular as they are/ were here? What's public opinion on Brazil being knocked out of the world cup? Is the carnival as great as it looks on TV?

NCPuffin · 08/07/2018 16:48

Ooh, I remember learning that the Brazilian constitution includes lots of rules on the welfare state and it is very difficult to change what would be normal laws here because of this. What's the welfare state like?

Ilovewhippets · 08/07/2018 16:51

Catowned thank you for answering my questions.
I feel quite saudade reading about Brazil. We spent part of our trip on the Pantanal wetlands which I couldn't recommend more highly. What a fascinating place with incredible plant and wildlife.
We were 7 hours drive from the nearest shop so no crime there - just a lovely lodge owner, some very nice other guests, swimming in the river, and ant eaters and macaws and masses else

CatOwned · 08/07/2018 19:41

@Gruach, and I apologise in turn for not understanding the tone (was there one?).

@Chucke2 Seriously? What a weird thing to study. I'm afraid I've never been to Curitiba, or even Paraná, so I really can't comment. Public transport is usually shit, though.

@Carecomplet I live in the state of São Paulo, but not the city. The climate is divided in two: hot and wet (October to March) and hot and dry (the other months). This year it got quite chilly in May, with the temperature dropping to 10°C, but it usually doesn't drop below 20°C. We often get 40°C+.
Not lots of spiders. Plenty of flies, however. I was living somewhere in Minas Gerais last year and we had a beetle season around October. You seriously couldn't walk without stepping on one! A coral snake turned up in my university a few months ago, those who didn't see it live were very excited.

Yes, you certainly see more white people in richer areas. The city I was born and currently live in has a bigger white community due to previous immigration from European countries (my ancestors among them), and the black/mixed population was sort of "pushed out". My Ensino Médio school (akin to your 6th form, but with 3 years) was very expensive, costing two minimum wages + books. With over 1000 students there, I have only heard of one black person and met one native american. I worked my arse off to get a 50% bursary for the school.

@NCPuffin The welfare state is complicated. First, there's a huge divide between the population. Some think benefits shouldn't exist, and that if you are poor, you should simply work more. A common thought is that benefits encourage poor people to have more children, and there's a rising number of people claiming the poor should be sterelised against their will.

I admit I (luckily) don't know much about the benefits system, because I've never needed to claim any, nor my parents. What I hear is that, just like the national minimum wage isn't enough, the benefit system also isn't.

There are public schools and hospitals. Public schools are quite scary, tbh. Both my parents were public schooled and didn't learn entire subjects because the teachers never bothered to turn up. Some of my friends also come from public schools and have awful tales about students attempting to set fire to both professors and students alike. If you are lucky, you will have an Instituto Federal, which is a high school akin to your grammar schools: selective, and with high pressure.

Some of my doctors work part-time in the public health system, so I know there are fantastic professionals working there, but there aren't enough doctors/nurses/etc for the population. Waiting lines are huge. Some die before getting seen. Childbirth is with no pain relief and strictly vaginal. Want/Need a c-section? You gotta pay for it. Last year a doctor killed a baby by ripping its head off its body; the baby wasn't in a good position and got stuck. A friend's aunt have a late miscarriage at 30+ weeks and had to wait until the body started to push the baby out, because she hadn't paid for a c-section.

Epidemiology is part of my course, so I know in theory the public health system is great. It just doesn't happen in reality.

@Ilovewhippets Oooooh, were you anywhere near Bonito? I was in love with that place. Floating down Sucuri river was fantastic!

OP posts:
Ilovewhippets · 08/07/2018 20:48

We were on the Rio Negro in the Pantanal and then we went to the nicest hotel I've stayed at called Reserva di Ibitopeca. It was 16 miles down a unpaved road and a truly unforgettable place.
Legal!

CatOwned · 08/07/2018 22:29

I researched, it, Ilovewhippets, is it the one in Minas Gerais? Bonito is in Mato Grosso do Sul. Also, tell me what you thought about the breakfast, I've been told foreigners are often surprised.

Anyone else with questions? I'm awfully bored.

OP posts:
Ilovewhippets · 08/07/2018 22:56

Yes, it was called Barranco Alto in Minas Gerais.
The coffee was the most delicious I've ever had - everywhere we went in Brazil it was delicious, strong and treacly.
Re breakfast most of the places we stayed offered cakes and pastries which we enjoyed.
There was always masses of food and I was told that in a country where people have known hunger, they wish to be extra hospitable.
We liked the food and even became fond of beans!
Writing this makes me want to return.

Ilovewhippets · 08/07/2018 22:59

We loved the Colonial towns, Tiradentes and Ouro Preto. Such a fascinating history.
The problem is it's such a vast country it's hard to properly explore it without being there for months!
Cat - do you like Rio?

CatOwned · 09/07/2018 00:51

They're on my list to visit. No idea why I never actually went, but these last few years were hard with juggling university along my poor mental health.

Yes, our breakfast is mainly sweets. Eggs are usually in lunch or dinner, it's very weird to me seeing them during breakfast.
Haha, I nearly had a fit when I saw beans for breakfast in London.

Rio? I don't feel one way or another. I usually get frustrated when all there is on the media is either São Paulo or Rio, because like you said, there are many places to explore.
I was never there just to be there, however. I visited once when it was a cruise stop and another with the Olympics (stayed a week). The tourist attractions don't really interest me. I'm an atheist, so the Christ is just a big sculpture, and there are lines everywhere.

Have the news about the military occupation in Rio reached the UK? Honestly, the way it is right now, I wouldn't visit even if you paid me.

OP posts:
FraxinusExcelsior · 09/07/2018 07:12

In western Europe the term 'Third World' is considered out of date and patronising. The preferred term is ' Developing Nation'. Are you aware of this and do you think it matters?

Gruach · 09/07/2018 07:27

Fraxinus - I’d consider the term ‘Developing Nation’ hugely patronising too. Most places on Earth have had roughly the same amount of time to ‘develop’. Colonisation destroyed the futures of countless places - and now the colonisers get to label and denigrate the places they ruined ...

Cat - I was being a little mischievous. Having lived in countries outside the MN bubble I’m well aware that concerns over issues such as schooling and living well are absolutely not limited to the ‘First World’. Always surprised to see them spoken of as ‘First World problems’ here.

Carecomplet · 09/07/2018 10:07

Beetle season!?! Aargh.

Did the Olympics have a big effect on Brazilian life in general? In the UK it seemed to take over and then there was a bit of an 'Olympics Hangover' afterwards.

What do you think about Lula? Is he still popular?

What do you feel about the impeachment of Rousseff?

CatOwned · 09/07/2018 16:01

Sorry about the delay in answering, I was out all morning.

@FraxinusExcelsior: I prefer the term developing world because it indicates things are improving. I noticed, however, I was the only one using it in threads, so I used third world country for this one. Developing World isn't very mainstream here, however.

Speaking of colonisation, did you guys know most of what Portugal took from our lands actually went to England to pay debts from the Portuguese crown?

@Carecomplet IMO, the World Cup had a bigger impact. School holidays in Brazil are in December-January (summer) and July (winter). So cities that hosted the World Cup had their winter holidays in June. It was a problem for me because I was still in Ensino Médio and moved from somewhere that wasn't hosting to somewhere that was, so I lost an entire term of content.

The current political situation in Brazil is tough: it seems you either love Lula or hate him. Personally, I think Lula was our best president and shouldn't be in prison, but I don't think he was a saint, either. President Roussef wasn't doing a good job as president, but shouldn't have been removed. Temer is currently doing much worse and still in. Tbh, I doubt we will have elections this year.

OP posts:
CatOwned · 10/07/2018 15:42

The weirdest thing happened: it rained! I don't recall a single rain in July my entire life!

OP posts:
EyeRolls · 10/07/2018 23:08

Is there corruption with the police etc or are they respected and honest?

(I had a friend travel there and got caught up in something whilst they were on a moped. They had no idea they were supposed to just hand a load of money over and they would be free to go. It had to be spelled out to them. However, I have also heard of this happening in Italy and Bangkok so I'm not suggesting it's a unique issue)

esk1mo · 10/07/2018 23:22

are there many talented footballers? it seems the whole world loves to watch Brazillian football Smile

ive seen a couple of Brazillian films (City of God, City of Men, Elite Squad) have you
seen them? if so, are they a true representation of the way life can be in Brazil?

I would absolutely love to visit, its probably the most beautiful place in the world to me Smile

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