Blog Culturas

Blog Culturas

Are Norwegians rude?

ArticlesPosted by blog Thu, January 28, 2016 22:18:39

Probably one of the most common stereotypes that you will hear about Norwegians is how their demeanor can be a bit cold or reserved at times. Most expats will tell you this, and most Norwegians will almost talk about this stereotype with pride. A few things you might hear are, “Nobody talks to their neighbors." “You don’t make friends in the gym.” “People will look at you like you’re crazy if you talk to them in public.” “The only acceptable time to talk to a stranger is when you are hiking.” The list goes on and on, but the comments are always about how people have a bubble, both social and physical, and you need to to respect that bubble at all times.

Well, I am going to have to stand up for Norwegians and say that this stereotype is just not true. Okay, I need to be fair and say that my experience is repetitive of the entire expat community. Some expats may have found Norwegians to be a bit cold and reserved, but I have found Norwegians to be quite the opposite. The only exception is the woman at the post office, but I guess bad experiences at the post office is a stereotype that can cross any border.

I have never been shy, and I have never had a problem talking to complete strangers. I guess that I get it from my mother who feels the need to say howdy to every stranger she has ever met in a line. I talk to my neighbors, people at the gym, and people in the park all the time. Nobody has been rude or unpleasant to me, and I have even made a few friends. So what is going on here? I am either an anomaly or I am completely oblivious to how uncomfortable I am making Norwegians.

My opinion on the matter is that Norwegians have bought into the outdated stereotype of being reserved and have now begun to use it as an excuse to be rude when it suits them. However, expats feel that Norwegians are cold because most Expats are too afraid to push through the initial awkward conversation because they fear that they might offend.

My advice to expats is to keep pushing a conversation with a Norwegian forward, no matter how awkward it may be. Norwegians are just like everybody else on earth and want to talk about their lives and connect. It just may take a few more minutes. You should also not be so scared to offend someone. Trust me, Norwegians have extremely thick skin and are very skilled at sarcasm, so just take everything said as light humor.

My advice to Norwegians is to stop buying into this whole reserved act. I have seen you after a few beers, so we are way past that charade. Don't pass your neighbor or co-worker on the street without saying hello, be friendly to expats, but don't tell me that you being rude is a part of the culture. It's not!

I know Norwegians to be friendly, inviting, helpful, curious, hilarious, and incredibly kind. Change the stereotype to reflect how your culture truly is.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Danger in Rio

ArticlesPosted by blog Mon, December 21, 2015 16:59:49

It’s true, Rio de Janeiro is a dangerous city, but it is not as dangerous as some make it out to be. I think that I need to admit that I have been mugged in Rio, and many of my expat and Brazilian friends have been mugged there too. In this post I will explain what it feels like to get mugged and how to avoid being mugged, so you can go on to live a happy and safe life in your new location.

I got mugged on a beautiful Friday night. Warm with a nice breeze, the weather was perfect. My husband got off work, and we decided to go to our favorite Bruschetta place, Prima, to share a bottle of Cava. One bottle turned to two, and before we knew it, we had to head off to our dinner party. It seemed like a crime not to walk to our destination since it was such a lovely night. Tempted to walk along the beach, we knew better because we heard stories about gringos getting mugged along the beachside at night. We took the main street down, crossed the bridge from Leblon to Ipanema and turned down the street that would lead us to our destination, or so we thought.

We turned onto the Av. Vieira Souto, which is the street where the beach is, but we were still two blocks away from our destination! Thanks a lot, Google Maps. My gut told me that we should go back and go down the right street just to be safe, but the two bottles of Cave told me that it was just two blocks and that we would be fine. We started casually walking down the street laughing when all of a sudden two children were feeling my pockets. I thought that they were begging for money, so I simply told them that I did not have any. My thought process was, “Okay, they just want money. They sure are aggressive for beggars… OH, they had knives. WHY ARE THEY JABBING AT ME? What do they want? Okay, phone. Phone it is. Here is my phone. Go on now. GO.” I gave them my phone, and they moved to my husband, who held a bag in front of him and said, “No Telefone.” A doorman from a building came out and scared the two kids away before they took my husbands phone. It was over. We, I mean, I had been mugged. The only thing left to do at that point was to go to our dinner party and drink until getting robbed by a 10-year-old was funny.

I hope that you will never be mugged, but give them whatever they ask for if you do find yourself being mugged. There is nothing you own worth getting hurt over. The only friends of mine who have been hurt were the ones who fought back. DO NOT FIGHT BACK. The reason they send children to mug you is that they cannot be held in prison. You never know who is watching and if there are more of their older friends ready to jump in.

Here a few things that you can do to avoid getting mugged.

1. Don’t wear jewelry or flashy items. If an item holds any real or emotional value to you, don’t take it out of your house. A distraught Australian woman asked me at the police station if I thought there was any hope of the police finding her irreplaceable earrings. I almost giggled, as I told her no, which did not seem to please her at all. Most people wear their wedding bands, but I would not wear a big diamond ring if you are lucky enough to have one. Don't wear anything dangly that is gold or silver colored. Thay will take it whether it is fake or not.

2. Keep an eye on your things at the beach: Make sure that all of your items are in front of you and that you can see them at all times. I had a friend who hung her phone, cash, and credit cards off the side of her chair and sure enough, her things were gone within the hour. It is not just strangers who will take your things at the beach; it is the vendors too, so be careful of where you put your things. However, you will be asked to watch other people’s items all the time. As a gringo, you are somehow trustworthy and usually, Brazilians first to look after their things while they go into the water. Leaving your things with other people is your judgment call.

3. DO NOT WALK ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT. It is okay when the sun first goes down because the streets are full of people, and there is a ton of traffic, but around 20:00 is when it starts to get a little bit iffy. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s dark and no one is around, you should probably go there. It is okay to go to a kiosk along the beach at night if you are with a group of friends, but still make sure there are no dangling bags of the sides of chairs.

4. Don’t put your phone or wallet on the table. Someone can run by ant any time and grab and run off with it. The waiters in Rio are really good at telling you to put your things away and scaring off unwelcome company.

5. Avoid tunnels. You will not run into many tunnels that you will walk through in Rio, except one. There is one that will take you from Copacabana to Rio Sul, which is a huge shopping mall and office building that holds many Norwegian companies and the Norwegian Consulate. I would advise you never to walk through this tunnel. It is not very long, but it is very dangerous. Many people have mugged in this tunnel, and I have a friend who was assaulted.

6. Women should never take cabs alone at night. Brazil does have a chauvinistic culture, so a woman arguing with a chauvinistic driver in any way can lead to major confrontation. Many of my female friends have had very bad and even creepy experiences with their cab drivers.

The main piece of advice that I can give you is never to feel too comfortable in Rio. Most stories about a gringo getting mugged have one thing in common, and that is that they have felt too at home in Rio de Janeiro. It is important to remember that you are not in Norway any longer, and there are many people ready to take advantage of you if allowed the opportunity. You are a gringo. You look like a gringo. You indirectly act like a gringo. Remember this and always be aware, always keep an eye open, always keep your guard up. Annnnnnnnd maybe not get super drunk.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

The Three-Month Slump

ArticlesPosted by blog Mon, November 23, 2015 10:09:39

Recently, I woke up and stared out the window for a full hour before getting out of bed. I thought of nothing, but I kept staring out my window at the few leaves that had not yet fallen from the tree in my back yard. Since that day, getting out of bed became a struggle, and all of my obligations were met with indifference. My workouts became low in energy, I stopped writing, and I stopped studying Norwegian. I did not feel sad or lonely, but I did feel very apathetic about my life in Norway. Some may call this depression, some may blame it on the weather becoming cold and dark, but it is nothing more that a common expat problem called the three-month slump.

The three-month slump may not be a clinical diagnosis, but it is a very common problem that many expat spouses face. I have faced this problem both in Norway and in Rio, and I have also spoken to many other spouses in both countries who have felt the same way. I am sure that everyone’s reasoning why is different, but the common thread does seem that people tend to feel a little depressed after three months of living in a new country.

Why three months? Well, three months is just enough time for all the glittery newness of a city to wear off. Nothing is special or exciting, and the usual habits of one’s relationship creep back in. The language skills needed for survival are usually acquired after three months, and any language training becomes more of a hobby than a necessity. A few friends are found, but no strong bonds have yet formed, and you wonder if you are friends with those people just because they are in a similar situation. Simply put, three months is the time it takes for one to understand what their life will be like in that particular country.

It would be unfair to generalize why people go into the three-month slump, but for me it was linked to purpose. I constantly worked before I moved to Rio, and I loved doing it. For me, working has always been a beautiful distraction from life and it gave me complete and total freedom over my finances. Giving up financial freedom and losing purpose from my day to day made me feel as if I lost all control over my life. I constantly wondered if I had made a huge mistake about moving to Rio and thought about all the other possibilities that could have been. The worst part was that I had all the time in the world to think about these issues and wallow in self-doubt and pity. I wanted to express my feelings to my partner, but it is hard for the person who is working to be empathetic to your situation. Not being able to get an empathetic response made the whole ordeal isolating and lonely.

What did not help the three-month slump? Suggestions. Suggestions from your spouse or other people are not helpful and downright annoying. I understand that people what to be helpful, and that is great, but telling someone in the three-month slump that they should teach English, volunteer, study, go for a walk, develop a hobby, etc. is telling someone something they have already thought of a thousand times over. The most important thing you can do for someone in the three-month slump is to listen and show as much empathy as possible. Giving suggestions is a form of sympathy and will only make someone feel further detached and alone. Truly try to feel with your spouse or friend and understand and support their feelings. It is common for expat spouses to group together and complain about their situation or problems they are having with the country. If you find yourself in this type of group, get out! Surrounding yourself with negative people will only prolong your three-month slump, and it can ruin your entire experience of living abroad. Living in another country should be an adventure, so you have got to find people who are in love with living in that particular country. Positive people will help see new possibilities and help lead you to find what you should do to make you feel fulfilled and happy.

What does help the three-month slump? This is a complicated question because everyone had different needs that must be met. One thing that helped me was to write in a journal every day. Through writing, I was able to process my feelings and sometimes realize how ridiculous I was being. The other thing that helped me out was implementing some real obligations throughout my day. I started walking dogs in Rio, and that was what finally kicked me out of my slump. Having someone or something depend on you each day will restore purpose to your life. I recently got a puppy of my own in Oslo to snap me out of my three-month slump here. The most important thing that you can do is to fake being happy. It is okay to feel down sometimes, but it can become a habit. Every time you have a negative thought stop yourself and turn that thought into the most positive thing you can think of like a hundred puppies running through a field of flowers. Thinking happy thoughts helped me view my surroundings in a whole new light and identify things and people who were counterproductive to my happiness.

The three-month slump can be a tough obstacle to overcome, but once you do, the country you live in will come alive again, and you can experience a true adventure. I have a favorite quote that I repeat to myself whenever I feel down, "Find what you love and let it kill you." Some may find this quote a bit depressing, but to me it means that life is too short to spend a moment hating it. Be happy, be positive, love your life, and let everything good consume your entire being until the day you die, or you can just get a puppy. It is either or really.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Learning Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro

ArticlesPosted by blog Tue, November 17, 2015 00:13:05

"Learning Portuguese is easy! All you have to do is read Portuguese for an hour a day, write Portuguese for an hour a day, and speak Portuguese for an hour a day. Easy right! Yeah, I didn’t think so. If you are a disciplined person, congratulations, but if you are like me and get distracted by things like Netflix or a social life than learning a new language can be a bit tricky. Before I give advice on how to learn Portuguese or what tools to use, I want to explain my history with Portuguese and the learning process. I went through four different language schools, used Rosetta Stone, had two privet tutors, and used multiple apps and audio books to help me learn Portuguese. Before I left Brazil, I went on a weekend trip and was able to survive the entire weekend with only speaking Portuguese. I may not be fluent, but I hope that you can learn from some of the mistakes that I made.

The first thing that you will need to do is find a language school that you like and stay in that particular language school. It helps to be in a group, so only use personal tutoring to clarify any questions that you may have. My biggest mistake was hopping from one school to the next and hoping to get different results. All that happened was that I had to start from scratch and adapt to a new methodology. I think language schools are like workout programs. All of them work if you actually manage to do the work. Here is a quick rundown of the schools that I attended.

PUC: This is a university in Rio. PUC was the first school that I went to, and they focus a lot on grammar. We did not spend much time speaking, but I did leave the course with a good knowledge of the grammar rules. When we did speak Portuguese, it was often about topics that would not help in your everyday life. The class is four hours long and in the middle of the day, so PUC may not be the best for professionals.

Casa do Caminho: I had a bad experience there, but I had many friends who used this school and liked it. All of these friends eventually left the school and switched to a different language program.

Carioca Languages: This was my favorite school, and I would recommend to anyone. The material was interesting and relevant, and the teachers are all friendly and engaging. I went to this school for the longest period and loved it there. The only problem is that it is in Copacabana, which makes it hard to bike when it’s forty degrees outside. I think it's best if you find a language school close to your home or work.

Português Carioca: This school is great if you want to focus on pronunciation. The methodology is all about repetition. The things you learn in class tend to stay with you because you have said them over and over again. I found the material to move slowly, but the things I learned there have stuck with me.

The reason I am not fluent in Portuguese is that I was foolishly shy when in came to speaking, and it was all for no reason. This fear prohibited me from doing exactly what I needed to do, which was practice speaking to Brazilians. It was not until my third year in Rio that I got over my fear and just started speaking without caring how I sounded. I was able to conquer my fear with a healthy dose of public humiliation. My breakthrough moment was when I went to the beach with a bunch of gringos and just spoke Portuguese for an hour. I truly thought that the Brazilians around us would make fun of me, but that was not the case at all. No one cared about how we were speaking, not even one crazy glance or eye roll was thrown our way. Once I realized that no one cared, I took over the conversation and could not stop talking. It was like my body wanted to release three years of repressed language skills. Ever since that moment I have been trying to find ways to make learning a language more fun. Here are the fun ways I began to study Portuguese.

Duo Lingo: This “game” is great for helping you learn sentence structure. I think that it’s amazing for building vocabulary and does a good job of being repetitious without being annoy. It only takes about fifteen minutes and is a good way to start the day.

Brazilian Pod Class: This podcast has over 513 episodes for your to listen and practice. Will you learn tons of Portuguese? No. Will you get to listen to interesting topics that are relevant to your life? Absolutely. You will want to listen to some episodes of this podcast many times because they go into confusing words in Portuguese that tend to have many meanings.

MPB: It’s a radio station that plays popular Brazilian music.

Texting: One of the best tools for learning a language is to start texting your friends in their native language. I had one friend who just refused to speak English to me, and I incidentally picked up so much slang and new vocabulary just by texting him in Portuguese. Of course, I have to use Google translate for some words, but over time I just stopped using Google translate all together and survived on what I knew.

Telenovelas: It is great to watch TV in Brazil. The news is nice, but the newscasters can talk a bit fast at times. I think the Telenovelas are better because they characters speak much more slowly, and the plot lines are complete nonsense. You will find yourself repeating the phrases that the actors say so dramatically.

Porta dos Fundos: This I a comedy group based in Rio, and they have many videos on YouTube. They speak very fast, but you can turn on subtitles and follow along. I think that the videos are really funny and represent current Brazilian culture. If you watch these videos, you will get an insight to what Brazilian humor is.

The truth is that you will be able to learn enough Portuguese to survive in about three months. Many people get to a certain level and just never advance no matter how long they live in Brazil, so it’s important that you have fun learning. If learning feels like an obligation, then you will most likely not do your homework or use Google translate to do it for you. Relax and enjoy the learning process. Most importantly, never give up. Rio is so much more fun once you can start having conversations and making jokes with the locals."

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

The Best Night Out in Rio

ArticlesPosted by blog Sun, November 01, 2015 20:37:17

"The moment that you tell your friends and family that you will be moving to Rio, they will start booking their tickets to come and visit. I personally felt like I was running a bed and breakfast the first two years I lived in Rio, but showing my guest a good time became routine. Here is my bulletproof plan for the best night out in Rio:

You will begin in the late afternoon by taking a taxi up to Santa Teresa. I recommend leaving by 15:00 to avoid rush hour, but I tend to be overly cautious about time. Have the taxi drop you off on the main street in Santa Teresa. It is there that you can walk around the shops of local artist and see all of the amazing architecture that Santa Teresa has to offer. Take your time and just enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. Once you have done all your sightseeing for the day, you can head on up to Santa Teresa Hotel.

Santa Teresa Hotel is spectacular. It looks like an amazing little oasis in a very urban area. Head to the bar area called Bar dos Descasados, and you will find one of the best bars in Rio de Janeiro. I found the atmosphere to be everything that you want in a bar; unique, dark, and social. When you walk into the bar, it looks like a cave but to the right is an open area where you can look out at the skyline of Rio. I would usually warn against ordering a specialty cocktail in Rio, besides caipirinha, but Bar dos Descasados can actually make any drink your heart desires. Have a few drinks and then head on up to Aprazível.

Aprazível is in a ten minutes walking distance from Santa Teresa Hotel, but it is ten minutes of walking up a hill. Aprazível specializes in food from the North of Brazil, and I have never been disappointed in my experience there. Every single thing on the menu is delicious, and the atmosphere is set up to make you feel like you are in the rain forest. You should really make a reservation at Aprazível between 20:30-21:00 to make sure you don’t have to wait. But, I think you should make reservations well in advance because you will want to sit in the tree house. To sit in the tree house you will need to have eight people in your party, but sitting up there will make you feel like royalty. At the end of your meal, you will have the decision to make; should you go home or should you continue on with your evening. No matter the choice, Aprazível has private cars to take you home or to your next destination. The private cars are slightly more expensive, but they are worth it because a cab would be almost impossible to get. If you do decide to continue on, I urge you to go to Rio Scenarium.

Rio Scenarium is a huge club in Lapa and draws in a mix of locals and tourist of all ages. There is usually a long line to get in, but the line moves very quickly. There are three floors once you get inside. The first floor has a live samba band, the second floor plays Brazilian funk music, and the third floor is a dining and smoking area. I usually would hang out on the first floor and try to dance samba at the beginning of the night, but I would always end up on the second floor whenever I was really ready to bust a move. Rio Scenarium has a way of making you loose track of time, so don’t be surprised if you leave around 4:00 am.

I have done this night more times than I can remember, but I guarantee you that your friends and family will remember it as their best day in Rio."

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Where to eat in Rio de Janeiro

ArticlesPosted by blog Sat, October 24, 2015 14:09:43

"It’s easy to go on TripAdvisor and find the opinions of others, but these opinions can be a collection of one-time experiences and not give an accurate representation. I encourage you to look at TripAdvisor when it comes to finding places to eat in Rio, but I want to make a list of places that I went all the time. These places became where I would take all of my visitors, and where I would go out to eat on any given night of the week. You will notice that the majority of these places are in Ipanema and Leblon. If you are a Norwegian moving to Rio, you will most likely live in these areas or visit them frequently. I will break up all of the restaurants by genre and link them to their TripAdvisor page.

· Mexican: Brazilians do not like spicy food, which is why Mexican food is not very popular in Rio. There are Mexican restaurants in Rio, but most are bland and can’t make a margarita to save their life. My recommendations are,

o Azteca in Ipanema. It’s a small place but has a great burrito.

o La Calaca in Leblon. They have great food, Taco Tuesday, and an amazing happy hour.

· Italian and French: I would normally not pair these two together, but it should be warned that the restaurants in Rio have a lot of trouble making sauces properly.

o Quadrucci is in Leblon. They have amazing lunch specials.

o Zuca is in Leblon. The food is French inspired, and it is good dependable place to go.

o CT Boucherie is in Leblon. This is one of the best restaurants in Rio, and was one of my favorite dinning experiences.

o Brigit’s is in Leblon and is French inspired.

· Pizza: Remember what I said about sauce? Yeah, that applies for pizza too. The pizza in Rio is usually covered with layers upon layers of cheese, but there are two really good options.

o Vezpa is throughout Rio and is my favorite pizza for delivery.

o Braz is in Jardim Botânico and is my favorite pizza for dining out.

· Thai: There are two great Thai restaurants in Rio.

o Nam Thai is in Leblon, and is one of my personal favorites. I went there almost every single week. It’s that good.

o Sawasdee is in Leblon and Ipanema, and is also really fantastic. It has a better atmosphere than Nam Thai, but the food is not as good.

· Japanese: There are several Japanese and sushi restaurants throughout the city, but they all very in quality. If the place is cheap, the sushi is probably not going to be that amazing.

o Origami is in Leblon and Gávea and was my go-to place for sushi. It was delicious, charming, and had a decent price.

o Sushi Leblon is in Leblon and is the place that everyone will recommend. I personally do not like Sushi Leblon, but there are many others who love it.

· Indian, Vietnamese, and Chinese: There is not a huge representation of “exotic” foods in Rio. I never found an Indian or Vietnamese restaurant in the four years that I lived there.

o Mr. Lam is in Lagoa and is the only Chinese restaurant worth going to. It’s expensive, but I think that it is worth the price.

· American

o Outback Steakhouse is throughout Rio and is extremely popular. As and American, I was shocked. Outback is not a place you go in the US, but it is really good in Rio. I ended up eating at Outback all the time.

o TT Burger is in Leblon and Ipanema. TT Burger is another restaurant that I did not like all that much, but other people loved it. As an American, I know how to make a really good burger, so I am maybe a little too critical in this area.

o OMG Lounge is in Leblon. It is a burger restaurant, but it has a cool vibe and great drinks.

· Arab

o Yalla is in Leblon and has quick delivery.

o Amir is in Copacabana and was my favorite Arab restaurant in Rio. It was worth the trip to Copacabana.

· Brazilian

o Garota de Ipanema is in Ipanema. It looks a little run down, but I guess that adds to the charm. This is the place I would go if I wanted Picanha.

o Restaurante Diagonal is in Leblon and is never crowded. I went here constantly and got to know the waiters. It was just a great place to people watch and eat good food.

o Via Sete is in Ipanema and is one of the most dependable places to eat. It’s always good.

o Aprazível is in Santa Teresa and is one of my favorite places in Rio. I will write more about it in another post about the best night out in Rio.

o Fogo de Chão is in Botafogo. Yes, it is a chain restaurant, but the food and atmosphere are better than the other churrascarias in Rio.

· Pastel and Juice

o BB Lanches is in Leblon. GO IMMEDIATELY!!!! The pastel com carne will change your life. I have a friend who freezes the Pastels and brings them to her children when she travels to Norway.

· Kilo Lunch

o Delirio Tropical is in Shopping Rio Sul, Ipanema, and Gávea, and is the best kilo restaurant in the city. It’s also really healthy.

o Icaro is in Shopping Rio Sul. It was the kilo restaurant that my husband went almost every day for lunch.

· Other

o Juice co. Lounge is in Leblon. They have good dependable food. You can take anyone there, and they will be able to find something they like on the menu.

o Jaeé is in Leblon and is the healthy option for fast food. They have good wraps and juices.

o Bar Astor is in Ipanema and is mostly a place to drink. They have great drinks, but their food is also good.

· Bakery

o Colher de Pau is in Leblon and is where I ordered my birthday cake every year. They have the best brigadeiro in town.

o Tilho Capixaba in Leblon and Gávea

o Kurt in Leblon"

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Solace on the bathroom floor

ArticlesPosted by blog Fri, October 16, 2015 11:55:40

"I keep having a vision of me standing in Frognerparken on the last day of summer. It’s night, and the sun has already gone down, but there are still many groups of young Norwegians grilling, playing games, and looking into the sky. The weather is warm with a perfect breeze flowing through the air. I look at Are with a smile and say, “Oslo is incredible! I never want summer to end.” Suddenly, I hear church bells chime in the distance. It’s official; Summer is over, and Fall has arrived. I look back to Are, but he and all of the other people in the park have disappeared, and I am left alone in the darkness. A crack of thunder smacks across the sky and rain begins to fall while the wind becomes harsh and cold. As I run back to my apartment, I notice that everyone is dressed in warm coats, gloves and scarfs while I am still only dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. I finally reach my apartment, strip off all of my wet clothing and lay motionless on the heated floor of my bathroom. It's then that the thought runs through my mind that I might never get up off the floor.

Okay, the transition into the Norwegian Fall was not that abrupt or dramatic, but the weather does change quickly. Over the course of a week, the temperature dropped to the point that wearing shorts is now impossible, but it is interesting to see everyone go through this sudden change from hot to cold. For those first few weeks of Fall, the usually stylish Norwegian is either unsure of how to dress for the season or has not yet pulled their winter wardrobe from storage. I have seen shorts matched with heavy winter coats and layers upon layers of whatever people can find to keep them warm. It now seems that everyone has adjusted and is dressed appropriately for the season except for me. I know that this may sound shocking, but a Texan, who has lived in Rio for the past four years, has somehow not accumulated many items suitable for fall and winter. In short, I look a hot mess.

Let it be known that anyone who intends to move to Norway should set aside money for the initial startup cost for a proper winter wardrobe. You will need coats, jackets, rain jackets, warm socks, wool soles, boots, rain boots, etc. I would compile a full list of essential items with a total estimated cost, but I do not have a job to go out and buy all of the essential items needed at the moment. When the time came to make a decision on what I truly needed to make it through the winter, I decided to put all of my money into warm boots, a rain jacket, and a warm yet stylish winter coat. My thinking was, as long as the clothing I wear on the outside is stylish that it will not matter if the sweater underneath is Old Navy circa 2004. However, through cost saving measures like not turning on the heat until November or buying boxed wine instead of bottles, I will be able to save enough money to attack the sales come February. The first lesson I learned when moving to Oslo is never to buy any clothing or furniture item at full price. Everything will go on sale, and the price difference is not only shocking but worth the wait. In the meantime, I will have to settle for looking like a college student who just rolled out of bed and was late for class. As long as the clothing keeps me warm it should not matter all too much. I suppose that if I ever feel down about my appearance or if can't stand the cold outside that I can always find solace on the heated floor of my bathroom."

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

The sweet side of Rio

ArticlesPosted by blog Thu, October 08, 2015 14:12:29

"After living in Rio de Janeiro for four years, I could probably write a book over the local gastronomy, so I will need to break the topic of food and restaurants into multiple posts. To start with, I must admit that I did not like the food when I first moved to Rio.

The first thing that I noticed while dining out in Rio was that the food was usually over salted. It became a running theme regardless of area, price, genre, or Trip Advisor score. It took a few weeks for my taste buds to adjust, but I never could get used to the large amounts of salt used at the churrascarias (Brazilian steak house). However, I discovered that it is common for the meat to be over salted, but sides like rice, fries, and farofa would usually accompany the meal and help balance out the flavors. Over time, I realized that I started to use more and more salt in the food that I cooked at home, so you should be careful if sodium is a concern for you.

The second thing that I instantly noticed when I moved to Rio was that Brazilians love sugar. You will want to be aware, because sugar can be in items that you might not expect, like juice. It is extremely important to remember the phrase sem açúcar e sem adoçante, which means without sugar and without sweetener. The sem adoçante part is particularly important because the waiter might add the liquid sweetener to your beverage otherwise.

Asking for no sugar can be confusing to Brazilians because they generally do not enjoy sour foods or beverages. This would explain why I was looked at like a crazy person whenever I would order a caipirinha without sugar… I mean, what was I thinking? It is one of the only three ingredients after all. I also found that desserts, like brigadeiro, are extremely sweet and need to be paired with an espresso to cut the flavor. It should also be noted that açaí is very sweet and should be mixed with strawberry or banana. Otherwise, it is just a cup of pure purple sugar.

I may not have enjoyed the food in Rio at first, but I did grow to love many restaurants over the years. Food can be an immense comfort, and I truly think that one of the most important things you can do to get adjusted to a new environment is to find the places you love to eat. Next post, I will share all of my favorite places to eat in Rio and what I consider to be the perfect night out. Maybe some of my favorite places will help you feel at home quickly and become your favorite places too."

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

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