Getting trõpiçalízed in Brazil

Imagine the Commander of the Brazilian Army standing in a room in front of a group of approximately 100 military personnel dressed in camouflage uniforms. Imagine that everyone stands up, presses their feet together and the palms of their hands to their thighs, and starts singing the Brazilian National Anthem with full capacity. Then imagine two Swedish graduates standing in the middle of the ceremony trying, as best as their Portuguese skills allow them, to sing and blend in. This experience is one out of many that Johannes and I, Ebba, have had during our assignment in Brazil. The event described was the opening ceremony of a trade-show taking place at the Brazilian Army’s Headquarters in Brasília, the capital of Brazil.

While politics are concentrated in the architecturally airplane-shaped capital, the navy hub is due to geographical reasons located in Rio de Janeiro. Industry on the other hand has its base in São Paulo. The spread of these important bodies has formed the programme during our stay in Brazil and has made it relevant to visit all three cities.

During our visit in Rio de Janeiro we got the chance to learn more about the Brazilian Navy, which is one out of three units that constitute the Brazilian Armed Forces (where the Army and the Air Force are the other two), and to meet the management team of Saab Latin America. To maximize our cultural experience we managed to have a full schedule during the evenings as well. I will neither confirm nor deny if Samba and Caipirinha were involved in these evening activities. We also found some time to go for a run along the Copacabana and Ipanema beach and to reward ourselves with some coconut water freshly prepared in the sun. Life is tough sometimes.

Enjoying the scenic view at the beach of Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro

When flying into São Paulo I quickly realized that it is one of the largest cities I have ever seen. The state of São Paulo generates more than 30% of the country’s GDP and the population of the city’s metropolitan area exceeds 20 million. The size is hard to grasp. Another thing that has been challenging is communication with locals who do not speak English. As mentioned before, my Portuguese is limited. Usually I can trust my French skills to help me out, but not in this case. I have had countless dialogues in which I have not been able to communicate in the appropriate vocal language. However, as an optimist and realist, I have embraced this opportunity to improve my body language. All my senses have now been trõpiçalízed in one way or another, from playing drums with students at the University of São Paulo to understanding the Brazilian business environment. Brazil, thank you for a wonderful and interesting stay, I will be back!


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