Now that I am in Brazil for some time I really regret that I did not have the time to learn more Portuguese upfront. I should have invested the 30 minutes a day to do the Pimsleur courses to learn at least the basics – it would have helped me a lot.
Because now that I am here I learn the hard way that my brain simply seems to miss the “learn-languages” part. While I speak many programming languages those do not help ordering food or understanding what the cashier tries to tell me. At work we luckily have Guilherme doing the translation for us. However, this not only slows things down, as everything has to be said twice, but it also removes a lot of information. Sometimes there are 2-3 minute discussions going on that are summarized in 1 sentence for us. Don’t get me wrong, Guilherme does a great job and it always worked out to understand the content, but the language barrier is really a huge barrier.
Let me give you an example of where I missed basic language skills.
Imagine a fun night with almost all of the #ibmcsc brazil team, having great food, some “water”, and intense discussions. Some time later the evening I had the need to get up and run to the bathroom of this beautiful restaurant. And then I am stuck, right in front of the two bathrooms. Reason being there are two door plates as shown in the images to the right. Which one to choose – left or right door? Which is the right one? No hints in blue or pink. No man/woman image on the doors. No clue in terms of basic language skills. No WiFi to check online. Guilherme not around. Doomed!
Let me tell you that it worked out well, but this is one of the samples why I should have learned Portuguese upfront. Same happens to me when buying groceries or ordering at the restaurant, with basic language skills it is just much easier.
But I guess now it’s too late to complain…