The Brazilian Soccer Experience I Needed to Have

Since I moved to Brazil, every day has become a new adventure, but nothing too out of the ordinary. My life essentials are music, food, and art, so when I arrived in São Paulo that’s what I was looking to absorb culturally. But, lately I have wanted to break out of my comfort zone.

This realization led me to an unexpected soccer filled conversation with my neighbor and his friend. I noticed them sharing a smoke while walking home from yoga. I’m guessing it was the blissful yoga class, but something gave me the confidence to toss a thumb up and say in Portuguese, What’s up. Next thing I knew we were in a circle talking about Brazilian soccer teams.

My neighbor was wearing a soccer jersey that said Palmeiras on it and I can tell he wanted me to be a fan. He was the most talkative and explained to me that he was a member of a local Palmeiras club. His friend was a fan of the rival team, so they were joking about which team is better, or which team I should be a fan of.

I don’t know much about sports, but my neighbor’s enthusiasm was intriguing. Suddenly, this moment talking about something I am completely out of touch with turned into a cultural rush. Doing it in Portuguese made it feel even better. Our conversations provided me with a dose of Brazilian culture I didn’t even know I was searching for.

A couple of weeks later my neighbor invited me to watch the Santos vs. Palmeiras game at the club. I accepted the offer but I was a little worried. Sure, I’ve been getting confident speaking Portuguese with my neighbor, but was I ready for a room full of passionate Brazilian soccer fans?

On the day of the match I received a text that said, Let’s meet at 3 p.m. I have a jersey you can borrow. Now I was super excited! I won’t stand out as much as I thought. When we arrived at the club, fans were pulling up, playing the Palmeiras song while decked out in the team colors of green and white. Sounds of firecrackers were bursting with excitement. Game time.

When we walked inside my eyes opened wide. What a place! It was full of cheering fans getting pumped up waiting for the game to start. There were drums, horns, and men and women chanting something I couldn’t comprehend. I brushed it off, smiled, awkwardly clapped my hands and continued to check out the scene. I noticed that I lost my neighbor who had disappeared into the fanatic crowd, so I kept walking wondering where to sit.

The chanting grew louder as I continued to walk into the club and I started to notice everyone was staring at me. I instantly went into defense mode thinking, do they not want me here? I’m wearing a jersey! Then, I realized they wanted me to join them. So I did what anyone would do, I threw my hands up in the air, started screaming and jumped right in! I was handed a beer and greeted with a ton of high fives and handshakes. I still didn’t understand what they were saying, but it was one hell of a way to be welcomed.

When my personalized chant subsided, I found my neighbor in the cigarette filled sea of people. We laughed about the roaring entrance. He introduced me to a few of his friends and we blended into the crowd, cheering and shouting the Palmeiras’ chants along with everyone.

My personalize chant made a return with a few folks as I passed them outside during halftime. One of my neighbor’s friends that lived in London for a few years explained to me that my warm greeting was because I resemble Zé Roberto, one of the Palmeiras players, so everyone was shouting his name.

What do you guys think? Do we look alike?

Back inside I watched between chants and beers the way fans reacted to the game. Even caught a few guys saying a prayer for the team. It was pandemonium when Palmeiras scored a goal, with hugs being tossed around accompanied by waving flags and shirts. I felt alive screaming with them. Not because I was suddenly a soccer fan, but because as a foreigner I finally felt as if I was beginning to blend in.

Unfortunately our team lost and there was a collective sadness in the room that I felt with them. We all dragged our feet on the way out. This particular match was the championship final game, so it was a tough loss.

My sadness for the match, however, ended sooner than everyone else’s. By the time we pulled up to the apartment I was feeling pretty good. These are the moments that last a lifetime and I was so happy I did it.

Am I a new soccer fanatic? I don’t know. Probably not…but at least now I know what Brazilian team I am rooting for.


  • Want more of Brazil? Hang out for a bit and check out my photos here.
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“8 Ways to Snack in Brazil” for Paste Magazine

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I am in Brazil exploring everything from food, fashion and music! My latest blogging adventure is for Paste Magazine in the post “8 Ways to Snack in Brazil”. Take a look, its delicious!

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Life in a New World: Creative Emptiness

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Empty

This place is empty

My entire life is packed into 4 bags and I still have 30 days to go

I am a wandering soul at the dawn of new beginnings

Create

I have less than 30 days to go until the big move to Brazil, but over the weekend I packed my bags and moved completely out of my current apartment. Inspired by the emptiness my neighbor Sam and I decided to creatively play with the space. We drank wine, played a genre jumping playlist, put on some lights and took photographs. This is a taste of what happened.

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Photos by Sam Luther

Life in a New World: Reality Check

12,000ft high in the Rocky Mountains, CO.
12,000ft high in the Rocky Mountains, CO.

When people hear that I am moving to another country it seems glamorous. It is almost as if people forget that moving your entire life to a new place takes a lot of work and courage. The truth is I was thinking it would be just as glamorous as everyone else! Little did I know the last days would be much harder than I expected. It’s not just packing your bags and taking flight. Thankfully I have a great partner that’s helping me along the way. Though I would like to complain, I have to remember that the journey is just as thrilling as the destination…even if it does get a little stressful. Nevertheless, here are my current situations.

No Partner, No Job

In an effort to make the move as simple as we could my partner left earlier than I. He returned to Brazil in mid-October to do some fieldwork and get things in order. This is not the first time we have spent an extended period apart either. I learned pretty quickly in our relationship that being involved with a scientist in education means that he will have to travel often. This is good news for me too! His earlier trip in summer 2013 took him across Europe and to Colorado, where I was able to meet him for a weekend camping trip in the Rocky Mountains. I remember when he picked me up at the bus station in Boulder last year. It was love at first sight all over again. I am counting the days until we recreate that moment.

However, the stress of moving to another country started to get the best of me this past week and not having him around has been difficult. As an over thinker I have a tendency to over plan, and the thought of starting new began to stress me out. Unlike most ex-pats I know, I am not moving to Brazil to play around and spend all of my savings. I have to make it work! These thoughts made me revert back to my last semester of college when I was job hunting. My world became so obsessed with trying to get a job that I found myself on interviews for jobs I never really wanted.

The notecards were created by Cast Paper Art using roses that my partner gave me at the beginning of our relationship.
The notecards were created by Cast Paper Art using roses that my partner gave me at the beginning of our relationship.

Thankfully with Skype and What’s App we have been able to talk to each other – but nothing will be more rewarding until that moment I get to see him again. In our online chat he reminded me that I needed to stop worrying about my next job. While finding work is still in the back of my mind his kind words help me realize that I should focus my attention on the family and friends with whom I will be saying goodbye to in a month. He also left a series of notes throughout the apartment with the sweetest messages. They may not be the hug I desperately need, but it actually feels more like a kiss!

Downsizing is a Bitch

Moving to another country means that most of what you own will have to be donated, sold or discarded. We started an online moving sale last month and things seemed to be going quickly. Then, suddenly it wasn’t. Thank God for the site scheduleapickup.com that takes just about everything! Not only do they pick items up for you, but you are donating to a great cause.

Downsizing does have its perks too. In fact, I recommend it to anyone even if you are not moving far away. For example, you get to get rid of old memories you no longer need anymore. I can finally let go of that band t-shirt I plan to never wear again or that sweater my ex gave me a million years ago. I can’t hold on to these things forever and they have no place in the next chapter of my life. Good ridding!

The Couch Surfing Adventure Begins

The first half of my move actually starts next week. To save a little cash I decided to leave my apartment a few weeks before I take my flight. This means I am technically homeless! A few months ago the thought of bouncing around from friends’ apartments seemed way more exciting until the New England chill started to kick in and the sun is already set before I even exit my office. Without a car, hopping around no longer seems as fun as I thought it would be. But, I guess I will just have to cross that bridge when I get there. And hey, what’s one month with your grandma right? In fact, it is probably exactly what I need.

Reality Sets In

The more I spend time with my family and friends; I begin to face that I will not see them on a regular basis like this for a long time. As much as I get frustrated with how full my apartment seems or how far my partner is, I always give myself a reality check and say you’re going to miss these moments. So no matter how stressful this last month will be – I have to enjoy it while it lasts. Ah, I feel better now. Thanks for listening.

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