Things That Leave Americans Astonished About Brazil

By: Alec Donaldson | Last updated: Aug 04, 2023

All countries have unique cultures, which may seem strange to foreigners visiting for the first time. People are usually advised to learn about the cultures of countries they intend to visit to avoid intense culture shock. 

Americans visiting Brazil for the first time are bound to have shocking experiences fit for dinner stories. Let’s take you through some of them. 

A Different Style Of Welcome

Americans usually greet strangers by saying hello or giving a handshake. However, residents of Brazil do it a different way. When Brazilians welcome, they do that by giving kisses to strangers on both cheeks, males and females alike. 


Source: Reddit

This gesture is not frowned upon in Brazil but may shock Americans visiting for the first time. 


Privacy Out the Window

Living in America, privacy is prioritized, and being too familiar may be perceived as suspicious. This is the extreme opposite in Brazil. Brazilians are known to be very loud, friendly, and social. 


Source: Wikimedia Commons

This may be shocking to Americans visiting for the first time. Expect the locals to be talkative and ask questions you may perceive as intrusive.   

English Is Not The Official Language

Unlike in America, Brazilians do not speak English as a general language. The language popularly spoken is Portuguese. Americans visiting Brazil may have to learn a bit of the tongue or hire the services of an interpreter. 


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As a foreigner, it pleases the locals to know that visitors are learning their language, and it makes your stay less anxious. Many of them would help you with the language in a fun way.

A Gas Attendant Is Not Unusual

In America, people fill up their tanks using self-service. It may come as a shock to have someone fill your tanks up and swipe your card for you. 


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In Brazil, people are employed to be gas attendants at gas stations, and residents do not have access to gas pumps. A first-time visitor may consider that new experience. 

Flashy Is Risky

It is human nature to show off valuables, but it is wise to understand the environment to avoid getting mugged. 

Source: Kristina Polianskaia/ Pexels

Some areas in Brazil are famous for vices, and it is advisable to put all valuables, such as high-end phones, pieces of jewelry, cameras, and other precious valuables, away. Foreigners are often at risk of getting robbed in an unfamiliar place, so take caution in showing off valuables.


The ATMs Can Be a Hassle

Traveling to a new country can be a hassle in terms of using credit cards. In Brazil, using ATMs can be shocking as long queues may form. 

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When foreigners visit for the first time, it is important to note there may be long queues on the first few days of the month due to workers receiving their paychecks. It may shock Americans visiting the country as it may be an unfamiliar sight in the USA.


Traffic Signs Are Tricky

Traffic stop signs are there to help us avoid road traffic accidents. Traffic lights in America are widely obeyed and trusted, but it may shock first-time visitors to Brazil to know that traffic signs are not really obeyed. 

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When using the road, it is important to wait until vehicles have completely stopped before using the road. Skipping red lights is quite normal in Brazil.


Warm and Sunny? Not So Much

It may come as a shocking surprise to many Americans, but some parts of Brazil are not as warm as expected. In southern Brazil, it gets very cold during the winter and may even snow lightly. 

Source: Getty Images

The northern parts of Brazil are primarily warm all year round. If a first-time visitor from America ends up in the southern parts without understanding the climate situation, it may dash hopes of enjoying a warm vacation. Even worse, if the visitor comes unprepared in the closet department. 


Brazil Can Be Expensive

When it comes to having a vacation in Brazil, some Americans generally assume Brazil is very budget friendly compared to other places. This is far from the truth. Urban areas such as Rio, Leblon, Ipanema, Sao Paulo, and other wealthier parts can be expensive. 

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These areas are usually tourist favorites. Brazil has a high tax rate on some products, and you may be paying twice the price you would have paid in Europe or America. This is usually shocking to first-time visitors. 


Enjoy Your Alcoholic Beverages In Public

Unlike in the US, there are no strict laws prohibiting the public use of alcohol. While visiting Rio, it is not uncommon to find locals with an alcoholic beverage in hand. 

Source: Marlon Alves/ Pexels

This can come as a shock to first-time visitors from America who consider public drinking illegal. Asides from beaches that do not allow glass bottles or drinking alcohol from glass bottles, it is not illegal to drink in public.