I’m not sure if I can put what I saw about the culture into words. You really have to experience it. The thing about Brazil that really jumped out for me was the people and how they live life. People just seem happy, not happy because of being contempt, but happy from having fun. Brazilians know how to have fun. They are also laid back and fluid. Little planning happens, but things somehow manage to work out at the end. Things are not organized. And it’s not rude to back out from earlier ideas just because you no longer feel like doing something. Maybe they’ve found the right balance. It’s silly that we send out emails days before, make dinner reservations at such exact times with an exact headcount, and do things we don’t feel like because we committed to them days before.
The culture in Brazil is also different from Asian cultures that I’m used to in a big way. Most of those places have a strong sense of obligation, various kinds of formality, and many implicit forms of expectations from others, all of which can often result in stress and unhappiness. I didn’t find those in Brazil. People are warm and friendly, yet relaxed like Europeans when it comes to social situations. People are friendly and help you, but they are not overly hospitable to make themselves or you uncomfortable. I have never seen such warm friendly people with relaxed space between them. I think it’s the best of both worlds.
People generally love to dance and party. My favorite was a woman in her 40’s who told me that she goes dancing 3 times a week: once with her husband, once with her girlfriends, and once alone. Of course, this is only possible since people have maids at home who take care of kids. Not everyone is a party animal. I met my fair share of people who like to go home early and just chill. But unlike here, it’s a choice they make and not one made for them by some silly rule that close down places.
Finally, Brazil – like the US – is a country full of immigrants with a sad history of slavery. But unlike the US, there are no racial boundaries today (there is still a class division based on money and education, but that is universal). Brazil is a real melting pot. And most people share the same culture, food, and music. It’s not like the US where different groups of people watch different TV shows and often live in segregated neighborhoods. I can’t describe what a typical Brazilian looks like. They have a lot of diversity in their features and color, mainly because so many have mixed heritage.
Enough from me. Go visit and see for yourself.