Half Swedish/English Expat Living in Brazil - Interviewing Alex

Published: 14 Nov at 3 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Brazil
Alex is a full time food and travel blogger who is following her husband around the world, and has recently moved to Brazil's capital Brasilia! Her expat journey started the day she was born in Malaysia and continued in Singapore where she grew up with her European parents. Her passions in life are food, travel and the expat experience which are all documented in her blog The Travelling Chopsticks (see listing here)

Meet Alex - Swedish expat living in Brazil
Meet Alex - Swedish expat living in Brazil

Here's the interview with Alex...

Where are you originally from?
As many expat children around the world would agree - this is the one question we all hate and have trouble answering! I am half Swedish, half English but I grew up in Singapore. However, if I am forced to give a definite answer, I guess I will go with Swedish.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am currently living in Brazil's capital, Brasilia!

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
My husband and I just moved here in September, and if everything goes as planned we will stay here for at least 3 years.

Why did you move and what do you do?
We moved to Brasilia due to my husbands work, as he works for the U.S. Government. I on the other hand am currently a trailing spouse trying my hand as a full time travel and food blogger (which I am loving)!

Pixie preparing for her first international Flight
Pixie preparing for her first international Flight
Did you bring family with you?
We brought our two Mexican street cats with us! Khloe and Pixie :)

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I have had the great fortune to have lived in many countries growing up, living in a foreign country is normal to me! However the transition of moving to Brasilia from Mexico City has been incredibly smooth and easy. I loved my life in Mexico City as it was fast paced and exciting, however due to the dynamic of the city it could also be tough and at times uncomfortable. Brasilia seems like a walk in the park in comparison. It is well organised and very structured, the people are incredibly friendly and there is this great laid-back vibe, which I'm really enjoying!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
In the month that we have lived in Brasilia it has been incredibly easy to make friends. Everyone who is in Brasilia (whether you are an expat or Brazilian) are not here by choice, we all are connected to some form of government agency. There is definitely a sense of 'well, as we are here, lets make the most of it' attitude. It was much tougher making friends and feeling part of a community in Mexico City, it took months of cultivating friendships before I truly felt comfortable.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I'm sorry, but I have just moved here and I am still trying to figure that out myself! If you are moving here - get in touch with me, as I am sure I would have figured it out by then :) I have heard though, that there are loads of hiking and camping to be done outside of Brasilia.

Enjoying Brazilian Lunches!
Enjoying Brazilian Lunches!
What do you enjoy most about living here?
So far Brasilia has pleasantly suprised me. I have to admit, when we first found out we were being posted here we were not all that thrilled, Brasilia does not have a very exciting reputation. However now that we are living here we are really enjoying this new laid back lifestyle, the quality of life, the amazing people we have met and that the rest of Brazil is at our fingertips!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is surprisingly expensive. Anything that is imported is heavily taxed, and products that are made locally although are reasonably priced are of poor quality. The day after my husband and I moved to Brazil we went to our local supermarket to buy food just for that evening. We bought a bottle of wine, cheese and ingredients for a very simple chicken pasta - it came to almost US$100! However we have now found a few markets around the city where we can buy our fresh produce for a fraction of the price, so we are slowly figuring it all out!

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I really try not to focus on the negatives of a country I'm living in, as it makes it very difficult to settle in. But I guess the downside for me would be that Brasilia is not a 'natural' or 'organic' city. It hasn't evolved over hundreds of years to what it is today, rather, it was created in the 1950s for the sole purpose of being the country's capital. It lacks that vibrancy that other big cities have.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Try and have some basic level of Portuguese as very few people speak English. This is something that I believe is slowly changing especially as Brasilia will be hosting a few world cup matches - but ultimately you need a little bit of Portuguese (or Spanish) to get around.

Discovering Passion Fruit Caipirinhas
Discovering Passion Fruit Caipirinhas
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
As mentioned previously, I have been an expat all my life. However, I think the hardest thing about being an expat is that your family and close friends are always on the other side of the world, and you have to be grateful for the brief moments you get in life to catch up with them.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I don't think I will ever return to Sweden for good. I love Sweden and I will always go back to Sweden to visit but I cannot ever see myself living there. I will probably end up making a new home somewhere with my husband or fly between two homes (my ultimate dream). At the end of the day - and it may sound corny - but where ever my husband and cats are, will feel like home to me.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
These tips have really helped me when I moved to a new country following my husband, and are more geared towards other trailing spouses, it can be a pretty tough and daunting experience especially in the beginning.

  1. Create a new routine. This is absolutely essential in order to get a sense of normality
  2. Join a language school (part of creating a routine) not only will you learn the local language but meet people in a similar situation to you
  3. Be proactive with creating friendships! If you like someone and felt that it was mutual - you have take the first steps and don't be shy. Remember the other person probably already has a very full and active life, and may not realise you are sitting at home feeling lonely.
  4. Get out and about in your new city, orientate yourself. The quicker you know where everything is, and know the neighbourhood, the quicker you will feel at home
  5. Be prepared to be the fool! Accept that you will make silly cultural blunders or language slip ups. Rather than be embarrassed about it, embrace it! This is all part of living in a new country and broadening your horizons! Learn to laugh at your self

Exploring Incredible Architecture & Art in Brasilia
Exploring Incredible Architecture & Art in Brasilia
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started The Travelling Chopsticks in 2010 when I first moved from Singapore to Mexico City in order to be with my then boyfriend (now husband). It was a way for me to keep my friends and loved-one up to date with my life, but more importantly it gave me a creative outlet and I felt I was doing something meaningful with my time. Now The Travelling Chopsticks has grown from being a side hobby to one of my great passions, focusing on good food, authentic travel, and the expat experience.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Please feel free to contact me either via my blog (see link below) or even via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Travelling-Chopsticks I would love to hear from you. I am also more then happy to answer any questions whether it is based on travel advice or advise on expat living!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingAlex is a Swedish expat living in Brazil. Blog description: A story of love, life and most importantly food! (by The Travelling Chopsticks)
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