Among cultural differences and languages barriers, being in a multinational relationship and living in your significant other’s country can be very challenging.
Here are some examples of daily life things that I found different:
It can be difficult to adapt to the food in another country, because every country has its own traditional dishes, spices and ingredients. In my case, the Southern culinary was too spicy for my taste. For example, it took me more than a year to get adapted to eating gumbo and jambalaya without having that burning sensation in my mouth. Another issue, and maybe the most aggravating one, is not being able to find some ingredients and products that I need to cook some traditional Brazilian food. While I adapted fairly easily to the food here, my husband is not a big fan of some Brazilian dishes that I love.
There is also a lot more soft drinks brands in the U.S. and way more flavors. We don’t have Root Beer, vanilla or cherry Coke, neither Dr. Pepper. I think Root Beer tastes like toothpaste for some reason I can’t explain. On the other hand we have Guaraná, a soft drink made from a fruit we have only in Brazil. Another thing that is different is how we make drinks sweet. Instead of using corn syrup, we use powdered sugar from the sugar cane. For that reason, a regular Coke here tastes different than one in Brazil. Soft drinks also have more carbonation in Brazil than it has here.
Cultural shock is the hardest thing about leaving in another country. It is common to be very loving and affectionate to people in Brazil. We hug, kiss, and hold hands all the time. It was hard to understand that this is not as common in the U.S. as it is in my country. It was also something that my husband had to adapt to. I hold his hand and show affection to him all the time.
Another aspect are the holidays. We have more holidays in Brazil than you have in the United States. Another difference is that every country celebrates their holidays in a different way. I had to adapt to the traditions in the United States, as well as to learn about new holidays. But the worst part is that some of my traditions are not only not celebrated at all here, but sometimes really hard to follow.
I “lost” most of the arguments I had with my native speaker significant other at the beginning of our relationship. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to come up with reasonable arguments in another language, mainly when I still wasn’t fluent in English. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t have much time to think about what I was trying to say, neither to carefully chose my words. It can be really frustrating and sometimes very time consuming.
Expressing my feelings was also hard. I know that some people have difficulty expressing their emotions. But I felt like the words don’t have the same meaning or just don’t feel right to express certain feelings in English. It took a lot of time for me to get adapted to say I love you -instead of “Eu amo você” – and really mean it.
I live in the United States, really close to my in-laws and really far from my parents. For me, long vacations often are the only opportunity I have to visit my parents back in Brazil. For that reason, we don’t get to explore and visit other places as much as I would like to do.
Also, the summer and winter vacations are during different times in Brazil. Schools are closed for three months at the end of the year and for only one month in July. It is different because summer and winter seasons happen during inverted times once the U.S. and Brazil are in different hemispheres.
Clothes and fashion styles
Everybody has their favorite brands and stores to shop. While it is true that we have a lot of American brands being sold in Brazil, I hardly ever found a Brazilian brand here. The thing I miss the most is being able to easily find Skinny jeans and shorts that will fit me well. I am also almost 6 feet tall and that doesn’t help either.
The second difference is the dress codes. In Brazil we have to wear our high school’s t-shirts. That is the only thing required in most of the schools. Here, on the other hand, you have to wear a complete attire authorized by the schools, otherwise you can get in trouble. The only thing that is similar is the severity of the rules about wearing shorts during the summer time. Some schools in Brazil follow the same requirements as the schools in the U.S. making strict rules about girl’s short lengths.
This rules don’t apply in most colleges and universities. But I still find that the “dress code” is different here. In Brazil people are more conscious about what they where in public, because they are afraid of being judged. Here I see people going to class in all sorts of clothes and I find it really fascinating. Nobody seems to care about what their classmates are wearing. It is not a big deal at all here.
The laws are way more strict here than they are in Brazil. I had never met somebody that went to jail in Brazil for driving under the influence. Another difference is that the law is enforced here and the police is way more efficient than they are in my country. Not to mention the immigration laws. It sucks!
There are also different traffic rules here. In Brazil we drive at the same side of the road as we do in the U.S. Yay! It is one less problem. However, in Louisiana you are allowed to talk on the phone while driving and to make right turns on a traffic light even when it is red. I had no idea about the last rule until I went to get my American drivers license. Can you imagine how many times I stopped at a red light and people blew their horns at me?