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10 Things To Know Before Coming To Brazil For The World Cup

Brazil is an amazing country with kind and enthusiastic people, delicious food, and incredible cultural diversity. However, it's an easy place to get frustrated in too, especially for a foreigner. If you plan to come for the busiest sporting event of the year, take note of the few things to preserve your sanity and enjoy your trip!

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1. Waiting

There will be queues. Be sure it's actually for the thing you think it is for. Brazilians are used to standing in lines and are generally good at sucking it up and patiently waiting. Find your zen zone and join them.

2. Learn some Portuguese

Unless you're in São Paulo or Rio, don't count on anyone speaking English. Brazilians are like Americans in the sense that most of them outside the major cities only speak one language.

And do not come to Brazil thinking they speak Spanish. This is ignorant and Brazilians hate it. Despite being surrounded by Spanish-speaking nations, few Brazilians speak the language, though some can understand it when spoken to.

3. Coffee culture

Brazilian coffee is strong and small. Start weaning yourself from that daily Venti coffee or find a way to make "chá-fé" - watered down coffee (combining the Portuguese words for "tea" and "coffee"). Europeans should be fine but North Americans should be aware that even a "café americano" is smaller than your mug at home.

Oh, and there're no bottomless cups anywhere. That's not a thing.

4. Pucker Up

Kissing hello is customary in many Latin American countries, but in Brazil it is not uncommon to kiss hello upon the first meeting, whereas other countries tend to begin with a hand shake. Being a foreigner this may not happen, but be prepared to give a nice cheek peck.

5. Traffic


São Paulo does traffic jams like no where else on the planet. What you call gridlock they consider a Sunday drive. Prepare extra commuting time to anywhere at nearly any time in any of the large cities, but especially SP. The situation is actually so bad that wealthy Paulistas actually use helicopters as a legitimate way to get around the city.

6. Check the Weather


Brazil is a large country and June/July is winter in the southern hemisphere. If you're traveling to the north (Manaus, Natal, Recife) your shorts and tank tops will suit you just fine. But don't arrive in São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, or other southern cities expecting a jungle or beach. Check the weather reports before you pack!

7. Become an Aggressive Diner

It may seem rude, but if you want service at a restaurant, café, or bar you'll have to ask for it. A friendly wave may work to get the attention of the waiter who's just standing against the wall or updating his Instagram, but an assertive "oi!" will fare much better.

It may seem rude and demanding, but if you don't you could easily starve. And Brazilians don't work for tips so you just might.

9. Leave your stereotypes at home

Just like not every New Yorker is a cussing jerk and not all Parisians stroll around in berets, Brazilians are not walking around day and night in G-strings and Carnaval feathers. These things exist, sure but in very specific places and at certain times.

Expect the unexpected.

10. Keep Your Opinion To Yourself


Brazilians are passionate people and like to speak their mind. Politics and "futebol" are always hot topics and the World Cup is full of both. As a guest to the country, keep your mouth shut and just listen. If asked for your opinion on either topic, the safest response is to simply smile and say you're not sure and interested in learning more.

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