When I first decided I was serious about learning Brazilian Portuguese and about Brazil, I did all the things I always mention (look for grammar books, films and music) yet I seemed to always leave out a great resource: make Brazilian friends! There are two ways of getting an “in” to the local community, assuming you don’t live in Alaska (oops, I stand corrected).
For certain things, like social language gatherings, I loved using Meetup.com when I was in the US. The San Francisco group (found here) was one of my two saviors back in the day. The only problem, I can safely say, was we didn’t meet up enough! Meetup is the best way to socialize, ask questions about the language, get to know Brazil through the members, and have a fun time. It’s also a good tool for the reverse, for Brazilians newly arrived to easily meet and get to know people from the city, region or country hosting the event. If you are in the SF Bay Area, also check out the South Bay Brazilian Portuguese meetup.
Method number two is to meet a local Brazilian, that is, a Brazilian who has been living in the area for some time. I originally did this by posting a message on Craigslist saying I wanted help with Portuguese in exchange for giving help with English (we ended up socializing more than learning, as you’ll read next). After meeting my new friend a few times at the local Starbucks, she suggested I come to a Brazilian weekend day-party at a friend’s house. In effect, she opened up a whole new world to me of Brazilians who regularly met up to “matar a saudade”. In the mixed group of male and female Brazilians were the American boyfriends or husbands of some of the female members, and they invited me to start our own little group where we’d grill picanha and have some beers twice a month. The whole thing lasted several years until I ended up moving to Brazil, coming back, then moving there again.
It’s probably of interest to note that over the years, I found three such groups: the young East Bay group, the young South San Francisco group and the original group I talk about above, in their 30s and 40s and spread out over the Bay Area. Curiously (or, perhaps not so much), when Facebook became a ‘thing’ I started noticing that a lot of them knew (of) each other!
Now I’m hoping you have no excuse to get out there and get to know Brazilians near you!
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