Monday, July 22, 2013

My new blog!

I have finally done it!

I bought my very own domain name and created a new website + blog!

Please visit: 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Couleur Café

I had never been to a music festival here in Belgium. I hate crowded + loud concerts, so I avoided them. I know it can be fun and I love live music, but I never thought it was worth the stress.

Couleur Café was different, though. All our friends who had gone last year told us how cozy and laid-back it was and they were right. There were many stages and lots of people, but it was ok (except for the Mackelmore concert, of course).

Throughout the three days, we saw:
Trixie Whitley, Aloe Blacc, Skip the Use, Wycleff Jean, Jimmy Cliff, Zaz, Andy Allo, Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, Mos Def, Die Antwoord and CeeLo Green.

I didn’t know most of them, only Jimmy Cliff, Mackelmore and CeeLo Green. Jimmy’s show was my favorite – the energy, the songs, and his presence on stage. It was really fun and I was amazed by the 65 year old party man! He really delivered a joyful concert.

Aloe Blacc was SO smooth and sexy!

Skip the use was super upbeat and fun. One of the best.

Mackelmore’s show was over packed with hysterical fans and I got trapped in the crowd. We could barely move and the girls behind us pushed, danced with no respect for our space and were too loud. The girls in front of us almost got in a fight because one of them climbed on a guy’s shoulders and blocked the other’s view of the stage. Can’t people just listen to the music and chillax? Anyways, his show was super!

It is difficult to explain Die Antwoord, so I’ll use my friend’s words: “They’re crazy fucks!”. My jaw dropped so many times, trying to make sense of them! Buuuut, they make a good party!

I was disappointed by CeeLo Green. A bit too whiny. The best part of his show – the last of the festival – was a spontaneous flash mob: a guy was dancing and really enjoying himself when people behind him started copying his moves. The crowd got bigger and bigger and we even joined for a while. Teehee!

Aaaaaand! I can’t forget to mention the FOOD HALL! OMG, delicious food from everywhere! South American, African, Japanese, Thai, Lebanese, Tibetan, Moroccan… There were also big tents were they served fresh mint tea and we could sit on puffs and carpets. Next year they should really have a Brazilian food stand as well as Belgian fries. Oh, and better beer and cocktails (they were made from bottled juice, bleh!).

The festival gathered so many beautiful people of every color, style, age and culture having a great time in peace. It reminded me that I must stop comparing myself to others, because we are all unique.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That’s one of the questions that have been messing around my mind since I was a kid. I remember saying I wanted to be an actress, so that I could pretend being lots of other things. Indecision right there. I also remember me thinking how unfair the world was and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to give a decent house and food for everyone. There’s more: I liked to imagine how I would fix my hometown, creating a clean, happy place to live.

I was always a good student, getting high grades and never failing my exams, but I never understood why we had to study stuff like complicated math, chemistry, physics. I wanted to learn first aids, cooking, driving and other useful subjects. I loved my history, language and literature classes.

When the time to choose my major came, I had no idea what I wanted to be. My choices were limited: I had to choose among the courses my local University offered. So I went through the brochure once again, crossing out what I definitely didn’t want: Medicine, Dentistry, Nursery, Law, Physical Education, IT and all that. I ended up applying for English Language and Literature and got first place on the exam. I didn’t really want to be a teacher, but I loved English, reading and writing.

On my second year at Uni, I started teaching and I did it well, but I didn’t love it. I graduated and decided I had to do something new. I needed a change or I would get stuck on that life. I knew I could do better. And so I left home and became an Au Pair.

I really believed that the time abroad, the adventure, the learning-more-about-myself thing would finally give me THE answer I needed. And I would be all “Aha! I know what I want to be when I grow up!”.

I wasn’t totally wrong. I did learn a lot about myself and life, but I realized that being absolutely certain about what you’re supposed to do is not that easy. However, as I talked to friends I saw that they had the same feeling and I read a lot about the mid-twenties crisis. These are indeed hard times, when you have to take control and responsibility over your life. When you have to make decisions for the future and take important steps towards it. When you “have to” do a lot of stuff you’re “supposed to”.


I’m 27 and I just moved back to Belgium to start building a brand new life. I’m not a teacher anymore. I’m not an Au Pair anymore. I’m just me for now. Sometimes it makes me nervous to have such a blank page in front of me. I don’t even know how the next few months are going to be. Other times, though, I feel grateful and excited for this time to learn, change, choose and create.

I have been reading blogs and e-books about creating business from your passions and living the life you love and it really resonates with me. I want to have freedom and power over my own life. I want to work when and where I like and as much as I like. I want to share and be useful and helpful. Although I have a few faint ideas on how to do that, I still have doubts. What are my gifts and passions? How can I join my education, experience and passions and make a living? What would people pay me for? 

That’s when I decided I want to be supported on this journey. I heard of a place where women are changing their lives and the world; where they are learning to share their gifts and create abundant lives. And I thought “This is totally what I need now!”

I joined Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Biz + Life Academy*. There are courses, books, videos, discussion forums and so many tools to help me figure things out. I have been brainstorming like crazy, thinking, writing, asking around… I even created my very own vision board! 

And I’ve learned to:

-          Always invest in myself. Education, books, courses, seminars. You can never know enough.

-          Do what is doable at the moment. Don’t wait for it to be perfect or it might never come.

-       Look for support! I stopped trying to solve everything myself. Often times the answer I need is not in my head.

That’s why I’m sharing this, peeps! I’ll love to connect and hear your ideas, advice, personal stories, questions, etc. Let’s pick each other’s brains!

* That is an affiliate link. It means that if you click on it and make a purchase, I get a commission. I only recommend it because I truly love it :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

My gratitude list

When I was a teenager I read the books Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up. It introduced such a great concept in my life: gratitude. She suffers a lot in her life, but she plays the Glad Game – she always finds something to be glad about despite the circumstances. 

I started “playing” it too: whenever I get sad or frustrated, I mentally list things that I am grateful for. It works wonderfully!

Here is what has been supporting me against negative thoughts and feelings:

-          I am alive and healthy;
-          My body is perfect;
-          I am intelligent;
-          I am a good person;
-          I am loved;
-          I am supported;
-          I have a beautiful, loving family;
-          I live in a comfortable house;
-          I have free time to invest in learning and self-care;
-          I have good people around me.
-          I have options;
-          I am free;
-          I am not in need of anything;
-          Nobody is perfect and nobody is the same;
-          I’m on the right path;
-          I am proud of and cherish my past;
-          I am learning French and Dutch. Slowly, but I am.

And the little daily goodies:

-          I’m grateful for the good weather;
-          I’m grateful for this quiet walk in nature;
-          I’m grateful for this delicious meal;
-          I’m grateful for this nice nap;
-          I’m grateful for the internet;
-          I’m grateful for a bit of solitude and silence;

And so it goes…

Nobody said it was easy.

Facing this big life change has been challenging. 

I try to stay on top of things, positive, patient, strong. 

Deep down I believe that everything will be ok, I just have to accept that things don’t usually happen when you want them to or the way you want them to.

I feel vulnerable, emotional. I try not to cry because when the first tear comes down it’s hard to suppress the others. And since I’m already crying, let’s find all the reasons! “Oh, I’m so tired”, “I’m afraid nothing will work”, “I’m so stupid”, “I miss home”, “I feel so lonely”. And I hate it that I go down the self-pity road.

I feel self-conscious, like I should lose weight, like I’m not well dressed, like I should be speaking Dutch already! I care too much about how I’m coming across to other people. Do they think I’m good enough? Do they think I’m stupid, fat and ugly? Do they think I'm lazy?

I moved here and all I do is waiting. I don’t have a job, I don’t have my own place, I don’t have my own group of friends anymore. I feel like everything I was, I am not anymore. So exposed, so lost. I feel like I lost my value, like I am just a girlfriend and don’t have “a life”.

Many times I didn’t feel like going out and seeing people. 

I felt lazy and anxious in dealing with them.

Afraid of their judgment and tired of telling the same story and answering the same questions.

I am afraid I will always be the outsider.

Maybe this is me making drama. But they’re feelings and I am just human, I can’t really explain them. I try to forgive myself and understand that I will feel this way sometimes. It’s normal. It’s ok.

What I don’t allow myself is to sink. To hide in my bedroom and sulk. This is not who I am or who I want to be. I know this is a time for change and patience. Above all, learning.

Whenever I feel bad, I come up with my gratitude list and do something nice and kind to myself: go for a walk, watch a movie, have a glass of wine, listen to music, read a book, clean the room and light a candle, write blog posts…

I remind myself that I am strong, wise and brave. That my life is actually pretty awesome. And that I am loved and supported. And that what others think doesn’t matter. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Belgian Beer Festivals

Arriving at the venue in Leuven.
Beer is one of the top things that come to mind when we talk about Belgium. I’ve met tourists that came here only for tasting the special Trappist beers.

Being from Brazil, I didn’t know many different kinds. I hadn’t learned to appreciate the tastes and textures. Our relationship with beer is more like “Let’s hit the bar and have a super cold one”. There are different brands, but they’re all pretty much the same.

And then I came to this beer paradise. And learned. And have yet much to learn. My friends try to teach me about how the beers are made, why it tastes like that, etc. Over my first year here I tried and loved my beers. And chose my favorites, of course.

However, only recently I went to my first – and second – beer festival! Woohoo! Can you imagine? A kid in a candy shop!

The first one was in Leuven, just outside town in a huge market hall. All the beer stands were inside and the food stands, outside. The first impression is the size of it all. Such a big place and so many stands you can’t possibly taste them all. When you enter you buy your chips and your glass. We bought 14 chips: I had 6 beers and Rob had 8. I was too overwhelmed to make my own choice, so I went with the flow and tried whatever they would choose for me.

It also impressed me how open it is. I saw young and old people, children, pregnant women (!), tourists, dogs, whole families, beer club people wearing matching T-shirts. It is indeed a cultural thing.

The list below was composed by Robrecht. They are all the beers we both tried that day. (I appreciate beer but I can’t describe them well).

- Shark Pants: nice hoppy double Indian pale ale (triple IPA) by de Struise Brouwers; (Rob's favorite)
- Hoppa hontas: as its name suggests, also an Indian pale ale. Hoppy and fresh by Brouwerij Maenhout;
- Jessenhofke: tasty brown organic beer by Brouwerij Jessenhofke; (Ana's favorite)
- Saison Dupont: nice fruity and spicy Saison-style beer from Brasserie Dupont;
- Turnhoutse Patriot: patriotistic Saison-style beer by de Scheldebrouwerij;
- Hof ten Dormaal barrel aged: very smooth and tasty beer, aged to perfection in old oak barrels. (A bit too sweet for me, Ana)
- Rio Reserva: nice quadruppel by de Struise Brouwers with a rich and complex palate;
- Framboise De Cam: a fine raspberry lambic by Geuzestekerij De Cam in Gooik. Tart, smooth and fruity;
- Schuppenaas: The ace of spades, rich and tasty amber beer by Brouwerij Het Nest;
- Kleveretien: The ten of clubs, black and strong beer by Brouwerij Het Nest;
- Brouwersverzet oud bruin: nice tart and fruity sour-red (oud bruin) style beer. Typical for this style of beers are the tastes of red fruit;
- Rebel local: rebellious Indian pale ale by Het Brouwersverzet.

The second festival was much smaller and cozy. We sat at a table and were served. We bought big bottles and shared among us four. We forgot to take notes, but I remember we had a very good Geuze, a raspberry beer, a cherry beer and the only one I didn’t like was made with prunes (it tasted like prune juice with too much water in it).

I look forward to the upcoming festivals - even the Toer de Geuze, where they rode their bikes all day going from brewery to brewery!

Drinking beer back home will never be the same…

Friday, May 31, 2013

Epic battle: Living Abroad X The Scales

Before I went to the USA many people advised me to be careful and watch my weight. It’s like there was something in the air that made people bloat in record time. Exchange students would put on 15 kilos in 6 months, Au Pairs would gain 20 kilos on their first year. I thought, “Whatever, I’m not getting fat that fast”. At that time, in my early twenties, I could eat whatever I wanted and keep my skinny figure (average of 60kg). I even thought that if I gained a few kilos I would look better.

Even though my eating habits weren’t very healthy – lots of frozen meals, fast food and snacks, I did manage to keep fit for the first year, going on regular walks, doing some yoga and joining the gym later on. 

 June 2009

However, the last few months there were crazy. We went out for drinks more often. We enjoyed every opportunity to hang out (read: diner, Taco Bell, TGIF, Starbucks or Subway) and I started “comfort eating”. I was very nervous about my return and I ate like a glutton. Why can’t we crave a nice bowl of fruit salad or a carrot? Like many women, I craved sugar and the fridge and pantry were fully stocked with ice creams, cookies and treats. Oh, did I mention I cancelled my gym membership?

I started picking up weight and thought, “Ok, once I’m home I’ll eat better and healthier food and I’ll exercise everyday”. Ha, wasn’t I wrong… Coming home I wanted to eat everything I missed and haven’t had in more than a year. My dad would always ask me what I felt like eating and prepare it especially for me. So there was a period of “Oh, dear soul food, I’ve missed you so much!”

I am not sure, but I think I was around 8kg sexier by then. People noticed and people commented. Now, here is something I truly believe in and don’t understand why many people fail to do: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Why do people have to go and state the obvious (of course I know I gained weight, you don’t have to tell me!). Some people were straight up rude and instead of greeting me cheerfully after not seeing me for 18 months, “You’ve gained weight!” was the first thing out of their mouths. That brought me back to my teens, when I suffered with a flat chest and a bad case of acne. My self-esteem faced some challenges! I would smile, mumble something about “American food”, change subject and resent it later. I was so tired of it I thought I could punch the next person who made that remark. Instead, I learned to ignore.

To be fair, not all American families eat the same way. I hate judging by stereotypes and I’m not here to create one. There are different people everywhere in the world. Some like junk food and frozen meals, some eat healthy, some are vegetarian, some are kosher, etc. My eating habits and weight gain are strictly related to my personal experience. Some of the girls I met went back home as slim as when they left.

So, where was I? Ah, after that I came to Belgium and managed to lead a pretty balanced life. Fresh food, lots of vegetables, brown bread and whole grain goods. Frequent walk/jog at a beautiful park. I didn’t lose any weight, though.

Fast forward: back to Brazil, gym, walk to work, watch what I eat, no results.

Brasil, 2012

Again in Belgium, eating healthy, fresh food, exercising in a random frequency (sometimes walking, running, biking, playing tennis, dancing) and still frustrated with the scales and the clothes that don’t fit well anymore (I had a crying fit when a dress I wore for NYE wouldn’t zip when I tried it on in July). Oh, and the pictures. When I see myself in pictures, it really downs on me.

I realize I am fighting my genetic heritage. Women in my family tend to gain weight after their mid-twenties. It will be hard (God, I LOVE FOOD), but I know I can win.

Today I am about 15kg more awesome than when I left home four years ago. That’s not such a bad average. So many changes, learning, adventures and fun memories required more space, teehee! Self-indulgement, pleasant moments with friends and exploring every new kind of flavors had its price. I understand and accept that.

I have been learning to love myself and to believe in my beauty. I have been learning that exercising in order to be healthy and strong is more important than checking my weight every week. Most importantly, I have been learning to respect my body and to honor it with nutritious food.

I don’t want to be the skinny girl who is miserable because of her restrictive diet. I don’t want to be the one saying “Oh my god, do you know how many calories are in this piece of cake?”. I believe in balance. I want to live a healthy, happy life. I want to be active because it’s fun and not because I have to. I want to enjoy life, eat cake and drink wine. If I lose a couple of kilos on the way, great. If not, I’m still me, I’m beautiful and smart and I love myself.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Random facts that made my day

    1.       Amazing free live music at Brussels Jazz Marathon: Tribute to Etta James at the Grand Place. It was colder than winter, but I’m grateful it didn’t rain!

     2.       There was a guy wearing a red bandana, big moustache and a quilt and he totally rocked, dancing non-stop. At some point he even took his shirt off (!) and found a moustache buddy to dance with.     

    3.       An old couple hugging and swaying to the sound of jazz. I totally want to be like that when I’m grey-haired!

     4.       There was a girl standing in front of us during the show. She was alone the whole time. When the band wrapped up and she started walking to the back, a boy held her arm and asked: “Excuse me, would you like to have a coffee?”. It was right in front of me and I couldn’t help listening. It was so out-of-the-blue! She said: “Mmm, maybe… where?” and they walked away. I was left trying to picture how it was, if they had a nice time and if that would lead to something.

     5.       We stumbled upon a bagel place! We’ve been talking about bagels for a while and how unusual it is here in Belgium. We were looking for a place to eat and trying not to end up at a kebab/fries joint and Rachel bagels magically appeared. We had chicken, bacon, cheese filled bagels with salad and fried potatoes on the side. I almost couldn’t finish my plate, the ingredients were so fresh and delicious and the menu was super fun (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Chicken Run, Speedy Gonzales, Nicole Guacamole, etc).

It's simple to find joy :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Waiting Game

Home is where your heart is - Part 2

So what have I been doing with all the free time?

At first I thought I would focus on learning Dutch and exercising. I couldn’t apply for a job just yet and I would use these months to learn as much as possible. Everyone leaves for work in the morning and I spend my days alone. I’m ok with that, I even enjoy it.

I used to look for workout videos, move around the living room, take a shower and start studying. I found a book called “Curso básico de Neerlandês”, which is a self-study book for Portuguese speakers and it helped a lot with the basics; I watched tv in Dutch, especially cartoons and cooking shows; I listened to some music in Dutch and I read comic books like Suske en Wiske and Kuifje (Tintin). Sometimes I feel tired and frustrated and I give up, thinking that I will never be able to speak this language. Then I realize how much more I understand now and I’m sure speaking will naturally come. Eventually. 

Even though I have to wait for the Visa to be allowed to work, I have been searching for jobs. I want to know what opportunities are out there and what my chances are. I made a list of places I am interested in and I keep following their news online – language schools, study abroad organizations, Brazilian government organizations. I really hope I can find something good according to my skills and experience, but it’s frustrating that I am not a native English speaker (as most schools require) and that I am not fluent in French and Dutch yet.

During this search I found an association for English teachers in Belgium and became a member and volunteer. It keeps me informed about any TEFL event and it hosts webinars and workshops. It’s great to meet people and network. I have attended a couple of events and even wrote a review for their blog.

Speaking of networking, I started volunteering for a Brazilian association that teaches language and culture to children. Some of them were born here and others came from Brazil with their families. They offer workshops every Wednesday and Saturday and on school vacations. It’s great to be part of the Brazilian community here in Belgium and see that the kids stay in contact with our language and culture (holidays, festivals, music, arts and crafts, food, etc). It felt so good to get out of the house, be busy and contribute!

One more thing I’ve been doing during the week: reading blogs (about traveling, living abroad, teaching English, online business and other things that interest me), contacting people (email, Facebook, Twitter), asking around and learning. Although things are a bit uncertain now and I can’t really make plans and set dates to them, I have been thinking, writing and preparing for when it’s time to take action. I’m sure I will get a clear picture of what I have to do in my new life as an expat.

Leave a comment or question if you like and share this with a friend who might relate. Cheers! :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Home is where your heart is – about my return to Belgium

Part I

     Deciding whether or not to come back to Belgium wasn’t hard - as the months passed we realized that we really wanted to be together. We hadn’t made any plans or promises when I went back home, we always said “Let’s see what happens”. And what happened was that 3 months later he was visiting Brazil and it became obvious that I would return to Belgium. How? When? We had no clue.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
     At first I thought I would just visit, keep the long distance relationship going, take things slowly in order to be really, really sure before taking such a step. Who was I kidding? I knew, my family knew, all our friends knew that I would stay here. Voor altijd. I got those familiar conflicting feelings of being afraid nothing would work and being certain we would figure things out. However, the biggest conflict I had to sort out in my heart was: I am abandoning my family. I felt like I had already been so absent and missed so much of their lives and that I absolutely had to be there with them. I thought about it all the time (and still do) and I understood that 1. I didn’t have to be physically present to be part of their lives; 2. If I lived in another city or state in Brazil, for example, I would see them a few times a year or less; 3. I wouldn’t be happy if I stayed. They started talking about my leaving even before I did. They gave us their absolute support and that made things a lot easier.
     I got a job and started saving as much as I could and researching any possible way of living legally in Belgium. My first idea was to find a job as an English teacher and apply for a work visa. I believed it would work - there are dozens of language schools in Brussels and other major cities and I trusted my skills and experience. I wrote ALL the schools I found but only a few of them replied saying that (my words) they wouldn’t hire a non-native speaker (I could rant about it on another post) and that they wouldn’t go through the trouble of applying for a work permit and bringing an instructor from abroad. I was frustrated, but I understood.
     I considered applying for a student visa but I wasn’t sure what to study and I would much rather work, since I intended to build a life here. There was always the “easy way” – getting married, but I didn’t want to base that decision on visa issues. Boy, sometimes I wish I had European ascendants so that I could get a passport!
     Finally, after a lot of research and considering the requirements, we decided to apply for a cohabitation visa (I’ll write all about it when the process is over. One thing you have to know: it takes TIME!). We found a lot of incomplete and conflicting information; we wrote the municipal administration, the Belgian Consulate in Brazil, the Immigration office and friends who had gone through the same and we are still learning on the go.
     I finished the semester at the English school I was working, packed my bags and flew off on Christmas night (you know, cheaper tickets). We drove home under heavy rain (so cliché, Belgium!) and had an amazing Christmas dinner with gift exchange. Sometimes I looked around and couldn’t believe I was here again but on the other hand it felt like I had never left. I saw my friends again, went to my favorite bars, met new people, met his whole family and started getting used to living with his parents and brother. It’s been fun and full of love and support.
     I visited my host family, hugged and kissed and squeeeezed the kids. My host mom said: “It’s like you were here yesterday” and we had an epic moment when the past, current and future (Brazilian) Au Pairs had dinner with the family.
     We spent New Year’s Eve in Vienna. It was great to have some time alone and catch up and it was fun because neither of us had ever been there.

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

   When we returned we immediately started putting our file together and visiting the town hall. Many declarations, translations and a couple of fees later, we signed the application and started the waiting game (it can take up to six months for them to give us a response). It really IS a waiting game for me, because while he works I stay home trying to keep sane and trying – once again – to figure out what to do with my precious life. 


Useful official links: 

Belgian Immigration Office: 

Leave a comment or question if you like and share this with a friend who might relate. Cheers! :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Living abroad: a new you is born

Change is the law of life. Unlike many people I know, I was never afraid of it. In fact, I sought it.

     2009 was the year that changed my life. It was when I left home and went abroad for the first time. After doing everything “by the book” – school, University, work – I decided to quit my job and be an Au Pair in the USA.I lived with a family in NJ for 18 months and travelled to some of the most famous American destinations: NYC, Disneyland, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Washington DC, etc.

     During that year, there were a lot of firsts: flying, seeing snow, listening to many different languages, travelling by train, staying at hostels, travelling solo, going on road trips with people we just met at a hostel, trying new foods, having a memorable hangover. Sometimes even opening a door or using home appliances or shower was a new challenge. It was ridiculous. And awesome. I laughed a lot with myself and learned with every task I had to do. Oh, I also cried a lot. It felt absurdly overwhelming at times and I had thoughts of giving up and going back to the comfort of my home. Even though you make many friends, in the end you are alone. The feelings and lessons you have to work out - you work them out alone. The big life decisions - you make them alone. Often times I felt lonely and sad, but mostly I felt sure that it was the best thing I had ever done in my life, this living abroad thing.
     When you go off by yourself and face the new every single day, you have no choice but evolving. You become more independent, more mature, more understanding, more flexible. You can reinvent yourself, you can be free. You don’t have to fulfill anybody’s expectations on what you should do and how you should behave. Nobody knows you and that’s an opportunity to open up, connect and have loads of fun!
     Choose your new friends, hang out with people who make you feel good and who can relate with your beliefs and dreams. I made friends in church, Au Pair cluster meetings, parties, hostels, Couchsurfing and more. They include travelers from everywhere, locals, and Brazilian expats. I learned so much about relationships and culture and they were my support team. On the other hand, the sad fact is: most of them will follow their paths and you’ll eventually lose contact. But as I tell myself, “C’est la vie”. Thanks to the internet I still keep regular contact with some of the friends I met abroad and I’m sure we’ll meet someday somewhere.
     My time abroad was so amazing that I couldn’t sit still at home for even a year. After having a taste of what’s out there, out of my bubble, I wanted more! I came to Belgium to be an Au Pair again (I know, crazy) and lived next to a real castle (!) for a year. I visited all the countries I had in mind: Portugal, Spain, France, England, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Holland. I visited friends I had met in the US (went for yet another road trip with the stranger from the hostel, now my fellow gummy bear eater); friends from Brazil; surfed someone’s couch for the first time and had long philosophical and spiritual conversations; and stayed in the best hostel ever.

Gent, Belgium 

     My year in Europe was truly beautiful. Although sometimes I got a feeling that “this is just a city like any other” I learned to be more open to what the places have to offer, what’s special about them and their people. Now my list of places I want to visit has expanded and I want to experience really different cultures, like Asian and Middle-Eastern.
     I grew more and more passionate about living abroad. Many people ask me for advice about it or tell me about their fears, lack of money or other things holding them back. My answer is always: GO! Put your plan on paper, prepare, be brave and go! If you have that itch, it’ll never go away until you do it. The experience of being abroad is so enriching, it’s more valuable than any material stuff you would choose to spend your money on instead. I used to tell my friends back home: “I returned home poor, but I LIVED!”.
    That tearful, scared girl who left her hometown in 2009 never came back. Of course she cries and gets scared sometimes, but it’s different now. Living abroad has changed my path like I would have never imagined. It changed the way I see the world and its people; it changed my decisions; it changed some of my interests, opinions and behavior.
     Yes, this post is mostly showing how AWESOME it is to live abroad and how it affected me in a positive way. Downsides and whining another time + reflections on more specific topics!

*I recently talked to Cate from Small Planet Studio about my return home. You can read the interview here. 

Leave a comment or question if you like and share this with a friend who might relate. Cheers! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Post: Coisas da Fran

           Eu AMO viajar e ouvir histórias de viagem! Hoje minha special guest é a Fran, que passou um tempo no Canadá no final de 2011 e  compartilha conosco as impressões marcantes de lá:  

  • A mistura do novo e do velho. -Como em toda metrópole o antigo e o moderno convivem lado a lado, dando um charme gracioso a essa cidade que já é pra lá de encantadora! De um lado uma construção antiga e logo mais, um arranha-céu todo espelhado!
  • A cidade é sempre muito limpa, organizada e arborizada. -Realmente um exemplo a ser seguido por nós! Vários parques, praças e espaços públicos lindos e LIMPOS!
  • A cidade é muito segura! -O Canadá tem uma das médias mais altas em qualidade de vida, e isso inclui a segurança, é claro! Sempre andamos nas ruas a noite e algumas vezes início da madrugada sozinhas, e sempre foi muito tranquilo(apesar de sempre ter aquele pé atrás que brasileiro tem!hahaha)!
  • A diversidade étnica e cultural é gritante! -Em todo lugar que você vai tem uma "salada de frutas" de gente, um asiático, um muçulmano, árabes, um indiano, um latino, um europeu, todos os tipos de feições, roupas, estilos e idiomas! Uma grande bagunça organizada! E apesar deles não se misturarem muito, eles se respeitam e se toleram.
  • A grande maioria das pessoas usa transporte público. -O metrô, ônibus e streetcars funcionam interligados, e tem passes diários, semanais e mensais que te dá livre acesso ao TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) quantas vezes você quiser no dia! Isso é tão prático! rs! (Que saudade de ir pra todo lugar de metrô!!)
  • Se você ainda não comprou seu passe(Mensal- todo dia 1º, ou semanal- toda segunda), e precisa andar de ônibus, você coloca o dinheiro em uma caixinha, não tem trocador, e eles confiam que você está sendo honesto com o valor que está colocando!
  • Os pedestres só atravessam as ruas na faixa de pedestre, E com o sinal de pedestre aberto!! -Se você atravessar no meio do quarteirão e um guardinha te ver, leva multa!! hahaha! Mas é claro que os brazucas sempre dão um "jeitinho" e olham pra ver se tem guarda e correm pelo meio do quarteirão mesmo! kkkkkk
  • As pessoas lêem muito e em qualquer lugar! -Isso foi uma das coisas que mais me chamou a atenção e achei muito, muito amor! rs! Qualquer idade, em qualquer lugar(restaurantes, ônibus, metrô, shopping, na rua), seja livro, kindle, Ipad, sempre tem MUITA gente lendo! Esse é um exemplo a ser seguido e que fiquei babando!
  • Eles respeitam as filas. -Não tem essa de guardar lugar, tentar passar na frente e esses "jeitinhos brasileiros", ou você está na fila preferencial, ou então espera como todo mundo! E tenta cortar a fila pra você ver, eles olham com cara feia e falam na sua cara pra voltar pro fim da fila!
  • A escada rolante tem ordem de fluxo também, quem fica parado, fica do lado direito e deixa a esquerda livre pra quem está com mais pressa que você!
  • Eles são educados, mas não gostam muito de contato físico. -Se alguém esbarra em você, eles pedem Sorry, e se você esbarrar neles, eles esperam que você seja "polite" e peça também!
  • Bebida alcoólica é quase um problema! -Ou você vai em um bar, restaurante ou o que quer que seja, e bebe lá, ou vai em uma LCBO, coloca em uma sacola ou saco de papel e leva pra onde você vai. Não tem essa de beber na rua, ou comprar em qualquer buteco, bebida alcoólica só nas lojas autorizadas e beber na rua dá multa! Parece absurdo, mas funciona!
  • Eles são saudáveis. -Ao contrário dos "primos" americanos, os canadenses são muito preocupados com a saúde! Eles evitam sal e açúcar, pois eles são "killers"! Você vê muito mais Subways e restaurantes de comidas "de verdade" do que fast foods, como Mc Donalds e Burguer King. Nas praças de alimentação isso fica mais claro ainda, existe todo tipo de comida, de todo lugar do mundo, mas os fast foods sempre ficam meio escondidos! É bom pra saúde, mas vamos combinar que todo dia provar uma comida diferente é um pouco estranho também, afinal, nada como uma comidinha brasileira! Sem exageros, é a melhor do mundo! :)
Bem, esses são os pontos que mais me marcaram e achei interessante compartilhar, não pra dizer que são melhores ou piores, mas pra mostrar como cada lugar tem sua cultura e costumes peculiares, e que isso é na verdade, muito enriquecedor! Não existe lugar perfeito, e essa não é a minha intenção, até porque passei alguns perrengues por lá também, mas isso já é assunto pra outros posts! ;)
Espero que gostem!

Fran foi minha colega no curso de Letras/Inglês, também adora viajar, aprender línguas e escreve no blog Coisas da Fran. Passa lá!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Me apaixonei por Viena.

Embarquei sem saber muito sobre a cidade, sem ter pesquisado, sem planejamento, mas com um envelope lacrado que deveria ser aberto na noite de Ano Novo. Viena foi assim: cheia de boas surpresas.

A cidade é linda, limpa, organizada.

Passeamos sem rumo pelo centro e comemos sopa com fatias de panqueca fazendo papel de macarrão. Sem querer topamos com a Casa da Música e foi uma das melhores partes da viagem. Comemos Sachertorte (um bolo de chocolate tradicional). Visitamos as estátuas dos compositores no Stadtpark e tomamos chá nos charmosos cafés vieneses. Andamos muito e teimosamente até encontrar o cinema para assistir "O Hobbit". Fomos ao Palácio Schönbrunn e nos deleitamos com os cheiros vindos das barraquinhas de vinho quente, doces, sopas, linguiças. Visitamoss a casa onde Sigmund Freud morou por muitos anos e onde também atendia seus pacientes e dava início à psicanálise. Claro que me lembrei do filme “Um método perigoso” que havia assistido recentemente. Também fomos à casa onde morou o Mozart e ouvimos histórias muito interessantes com o audio tour. Comemos schnitzel (vitela empanada e frita) e andamos muito de metrô, que é muito fácil e prático – até no dia 01/01 às 05h quando precisamos ir para o aeroporto. Ah! A conexão para o aeroporto é ótima: em 15 minutos de trem direto chegamos lá e já havíamos despachado a mala no saguão da conexão mesmo.

No dia 31 eu pude abrir o envelope surpresa. Tentei não pensar no que era, mas imaginava que eram entradas e iríamos a algum lugar. Nunca imaginei que veria um dos shows mais lindos da minha vida! Pela primeira vez vi uma Orquestra Sinfônica ao vivo! É realmente de arrepiar, ainda mais em Viena. Depois da Orquestra andamos pela cidade e pelos inúmeros palcos espalhados nos pontos principais. Música ao vivo, barraquinhas, muita gente e muito frio! À meia noite assistimos à queima de fogos e brindamos à vida nova!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

O Rio é tudo

Este é o primeiro "guest post", ou postagem de um convidado, aqui no Qualquer Dia Desses. É uma honra começar com a querida Maitê, companheira de várias viagens e passeios pela Europa, falando sobre sua cidade maravilhosa! 

"Antes de tudo, quero dizer que é um prazer e uma honra escrever no blog da Ana, uma grande amiga e uma mulher inspiradora.

Voltar para casa depois de morar fora do Brasil não é fácil. Eu sempre soube disso porque era uma opinião unânime (ou praticamente) entre as minhas amigas que retornaram. Até que chegou a minha vez. Então, eu tive a certeza de algo que sempre tocou meu coração: não existe lugar no mundo como o Rio de Janeiro.
É claro que eu tive o impacto esperado (leia-se, negativo), mas a cada manhã de sol que eu olhava para minhas duas cidades (nisso incluo Rio e Niterói – o outro lado da poça), eu sabia que estava exatamente onde deveria estar.
Eu lembro que quando estava em Roma (numa viaja feita com a Ana), na primeira vez que desci na estação de metrô e dei de cara com o Coliseu, enorme, imponente, milenar, pensei: que privilégio os romanos têm de contemplar esse monumento em sua rotina. Pensei o mesmo dos parisienses com a Torre Eiffel. E quando voltei para o Rio, vi que eu era tão privilegiada quanto eles, porque eu era carioca.
O Rio é deslumbrante por natureza e essência. É o Cristo (Redentor), o Pão de Açúcar, o Jardim Botânico, a Floresta da Tijuca e mais. É a favela, a Lapa, a cultura, os famosos que caminham naturalmente pela cidade e muito mais. É o carioca em si, que esbanja simpatia e falta de educação – acreditem, muitas vezes ao mesmo tempo! É o samba, a Bossa Nova, o pagode da esquina, as praias onde todos se encontram, independente de quanta grana tenham no bolso ou de quanta bobagem saia pela boca. É o calor indigno e as tempestades desastrosas de um fim de tarde. É a ponte Rio-Niterói e, de tão grande, é também o outro lado da poça, com o museu do Niemeyer e a melhor vista da cidade. É a baixada fluminense, o Funk e os milionários da Zona Sul que pagam pequenas fortunas para dançar o ritmo que toca na periferia. O Rio é tanto que consegue ser mais até que a violência (quase) insuportável, os preços absurdos, os serviços mal prestados, o descaso do governo e do povo. É o pôr do sol no Arpoador.
O Rio é tudo. Um resumo deste Brasil tão grande que não se define em poucas palavras."

Maitê é jornalista, viajante, Couchsurfer profissional. Confiram o blog Ano sem Verão e suas ótimas histórias!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not all Brazilians are brainless dancing monkeys

They are on the radio and nightclubs all around the world. People who have no knowledge of Portuguese can sing them – and I have to explain for the zillionth time what the lyrics mean (or rather, their lack of meaning). Thanks to songs like “Ai, se eu te pego”, “Tche Tcherere”, “Eu quero tchu, eu quero tcha”, Brazilian people are coming across as stupid dancing monkeys. Again.

Stereotypes have always and will always exist. Every nation is well known for something. In our case it’s Carnaval, soccer, beaches, beautiful women, the rain forest. The good thing about stereotypes, though, is that they only last up to the first contact with reality. If you really know Brazil, you don’t think we’re a bunch of semi-naked people dancing samba on the beach all the time. Or that there are giant snakes and spiders on the streets. Or that we only listen to the above mentioned trash. 

I’m not an expert in music or marketing. I’m just a Brazilian girl living abroad who has to deal constantly with breaking stereotypes. “No, I can’t play soccer”. “No, I don’t live on the beach. Actually, it’s so far I only go once a year”. “No, I’m not wearing feathers and showing my boobs on Carnaval”. “Yes, I know that song and I hate it.”

It’s a pity that what is crossing the seas nowadays is not our best. Every country has truly great art and culture but also shitty stuff. Then why do those songs get stuck in people’s heads and spread like virus? Neuroscientists will explain.

I will just do my part by recommending Brazilian music I am proud of: Titãs, Cazuza, Seu Jorge, Caetano Veloso, Nando Reis, Jota Quest, Rita Lee, Djavan, Elis Regina, Zé Ramalho, Vanessa da Matta, Engenheiros do Havaí, Teatro Mágico, Adriana Calcanhoto, Marisa Monte, Marcelo D2, O Rappa, Legião Urbana and so many others worth listening to.

P.S.: I will occasionally have my dancing monkey moments, I admit. I will dance along to pretty much anything when I'm drinking with friends at a club :)

Leave your comments below!