Every time I go back to Brazil, it takes me a few days to readapt to the crazy, busy, metropole type of life Sao Paulo provides to its citizens. Traffic suddenly becomes a big concern, since driving 9 miles can take 1:30 hours during peak hours, usually from 7am to 10am in the mornings and from 5pm to 8pm at night. You plan your life geographically, avoiding to go places because you might get stuck in traffic for so many hours that it is just not worth it. Thankfully, that’s not something I have to worry about in my new town.
It has been less than a year since I actually moved from Brazil to Columbus, and it surprised how quickly we adapt to good things. For instance, my house in Brazil used to have walls all over for safety reasons and my suburban american house only has trees and, well, imaginary lines. The streets had public lights, also for safety reasons, but nights here are so dark I spent three months feeling scared to take my dogs outside to go potty. Eventually, I grew out of it, thankfully. Not only that, I realized how beautiful the sky gets when you can see it without the intervention of street lights and tall walls. It is so quiet here, I don’t miss the city noises at all.
Suburbs trumps Sao Paulo in two other topics: quality of air and friendly neighborhood, almost like a community. Quality of air is a no brainer, since Sao Paulo is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and I feel the difference everyday. But the way our neighbors welcomed us, bringing us cupcakes and banana breads, introducing themselves and offering to help us in anything we might need, that was a surprise. We always hear about how friendly and welcoming Brazilians are in comparison to other countries, and for some reason I thought it would be difficult to break the ice. After the first months I could tell that our neighbors were more friendly than any other I had the chance to meet in Brazil. I witnessed the couple that lives across the street taking out the trash for the family next door, feeding their cat while they were away for summer vacation. I also realized they talked about groundhogs and how to get them away of both their yards without endangering other houses. Everybody says Hi, for the very least, when they drive by. Small gestures that make all the difference when it comes to adapting to a life in a new country.