I went for an exchange student programme in 2009. This was a few years after I lost my father, I was 17 and super rebellious because I didn’t know how to cope with the pain of his absence. The rotary at the time offered many places, Germany, The USA and some other European countries as options to visit but I met a cool alumni at the congregation that told me about the wild parties in Brazil. I thought it would be more on the lines of the USA, and boy, that was an off the bat claim. I could not have been more wrong. Brazil was paradise because it was a blend of passion, soul and liberty in thought and in body, it was a culture that was both sensual but real. The people are true patriots of culture, diversity & such a paradox.
When I landed in Sao Paulo, the air smelt different & I didn’t know what to expect . I was ready to know more about an unseen world and to live it, as just another local student.
One of the first things I learnt about Brasilians is that they adore communication. For obvious reasons, the first skill you learn there is how to talk without looking at a clock, they will find a way to break down every single barrier, inhibition that you have - it's something magical because in most parts of the world, you get used to speaking when you are spoken to only, you only say what you won't be judged for saying. They will ask you if you ride an elephant to school, if people of India follow the caste system and even ask you questions about the various "gods of India" with great interest to actually listen to information about it for hours there on after - over beers or endless caipirinhas. Prepare to feel like a celebrity because they actively will ask you about your political views, religious views, idea of family values, how you spend your hours, names of things you are passionate about and how you show love, if you say you are in a relationship. They are social and are obsessed with family, it goes deep. For example, I met this guy on tinder and one of the first things he mentioned through the course of a week was how he was out of Brazil when his grandma passed away and he wasn't able to cope with the pain & just keep drinking about it at university. It was strange for me to hear how this hot, nerdy footballer looking guy could be so honest and aware of his emotional self to know that his inability to cry in a time of loss was a problem.
Thus, in many ways Brazil is a country that not only wears its colour, but speaks in poetry because of how innately spiritual they are as people - these are the people that would cry if you leave after spending a week with you. They go out of their way to express their passion - they will invite you over for meals and teach you about the country as if they have been obligated or paid to show you their culture. There, friendship feels like love.
I remember I was one of the first Indians my friends had met. Some of the most interesting thing that I learnt was that if you go to a nightclub, guys will literally put their fingers through yours or pull you back from your waist and turn you around to talk to them. Especially if you look foreign or exotic because they love to kiss there and diversity is a prize pull for them - it's kind of well received by women culturally too as they are not judged for participating in this kind of hook up culture.
It's called a "ficar" when you bump into someone "beautiful" at a night club that you spend your night with till 5 am. Till the morning you will be like lovers of a lifetime and they will have you feeling so sensual when they talk to you, whisper in your ear compliments like "I love your hair, do you want to feel Brazil for a night, I can show you more of my "culture" in a non creepy way. They will call you amor and gata (cat - slang for hottie) five seconds into knowing you, wooing their way into their pursuit which is equally important to them. They adore making "memories" and you can't create memories without making an authentic, organic effort. It takes courage, confidence and will power. You would be a fool to think all that passion and kissing is going to end up in the bedroom though. Women are very sacred about everything else - it's actually one of the most beautiful things I felt about this modern yet conservative culture. Brasilians come really close when they speak to you and you will learn how to make eye contact all the time. In the east, especially India and Japan, this is one of the most forward uncomfortable thing you can get put through. Science proves why - they say making eye contact with a person can have you falling in love with them. So if you are in Brazil, get ready to fall into an ocean of emotion because it's blinding & hypnotising when you have an ordinary conversation with extra-ordinary looking friendly people. Brazilians are gorgeous, whether they are tan, white, mixed with European and genetics It's something you will regret the next morning till you find "love in a club, at a bbq or at a day at the beach."
It's safe to say that if you are overcoming a painful emotional experience, fighting depression or something dark that only you understand - Brazil is a place where you can get that kind of profound soul healing to step back into the present, loving yourself for who you are - physically, mentally, emotionally with respect for everything you've experienced.
Being able to be on your own, talking about your belief systems openly can have you feeling in touch with your inner voice and soul. It's a healthy that transience is what they will teach you, through waterfalls of beautiful minds, bodies and soul searching conversations - learning to catch, appreciate and release beauty in your life once again without holding things too tightly. I truly think there is nothing more spiritual than finding magic and making a pact with yourself to allow yourself to let it go - to grow, till you find it in a different form, in the same person or another. "