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Growing up I was only allowed to speak Portuguese in my house so that, of course, I would be fluent in my native language. I thank my parents for that now because it truly is a blessing being able to speak another language and having that unique trait about myself I have always loved. Although, when I was a baby, watching TV was quite confusing because I would hear people speak English, but I was still trying to learn Portuguese at the same time. Therefore, my brain was a little confused. I didn’t start talking until I was about three years old and that scared my mom so much that she brought me to a doctor to see if there was anything wrong with me.
She thought, “why does my daughter only know two words: nao (no) and agua (water)”, which I now realize why I love water and saying “no”. Something that I have learned is there are so many sayings in Portuguese that you really can’t translate them to English. Trust me, I’ve tried. Something that would make me super annoyed was when people would ask me if I spoke Brazilian. No. No. just no.
When you walk into a Brazilian household you’ll never get the typical smell of chocolate chip cookies, but instead the smell of rice and beans. You’re probably thinking “ Wow! Maria that is probably a weird smell,” but it’s actually the BEST smell in the world. There’s nothing like coming home from school to the smell of my moms’ beans.
As a kid, I never had the famous peanut butter and fluff sandwiches my friends always had. I always had something weird that no one really knew and I never really knew what it was either. I was very jealous as a little second grader, when I would see my friends with these amazing lunches (peanut butter and fluff sandwiches), I would come home telling my mom that it was all I wanted and she would just tell me “Luisa isso não é um almoço, nem pense que você vai comer isso.”
I now thank my mom for that because I realized that Brazilian food was really the best thing ever. In the first grade, we all had to bring something in for a party and my mom decided to make a very famous dessert called “Brigadeiro”. Brigadeiro consists of condensed milk and Nesquick or Toddy (which was the Brazilian equivalent to Nesquik, but better). This little truffle is actually heaven, you can ask anyone that had it in my first-grade class and they remember that dessert. While everyone else brought typical things I felt pretty cool bringing in something that represented me and in my opinion at least was better than everyone else.
Coffee in Brazil is a very big deal and it’s actually normal for kids to grow up drinking their “cafezinho”, which was just some coffee and milk. That’s when my love for coffee started, my aunt would dunk some bread in my cafezinho and let me have that for breakfast. So when I started hearing Americans say that coffee is “bad for kids” and it “stunts your growth” I strongly disagreed, obviously. Yes, I am a little short but it has nothing to do with coffee, cmon.
There were a few times where I was asked if I came from the Amazon Forest.
Yes, I did want to smack whoever it was that said this to me, but I refrained of course.
I was actually born in a little town in Rio De Janeiro called Petrópolis. As I’ve been told, my grandpa (my mothers’ dad) knew absolutely EVERYONE in Petropolis. So, I know for a fact that when I go back, everyone will be amazed at how much I’ve grown.
It’s Brazilian culture that you call your family friends “tia” and “tio”, which means aunt and uncle. Even if you aren’t related to them, it’s just human nature to call them that. So growing up telling my friends who a certain family friend was, I would just say they were my aunt or uncle. So I have about 50 tias and tios.
Something from my childhood that I absolutely loved was the Brazilian TV shows. Majority of Brazilians will get the most expensive TV channel package so they can have “GLOBO”, which was the international Brazilian television channel. I remember watching my favorite show called “ Smilinguido”, which was a kids cartoon show about ants. By far the best show to exist. It would only pass certain days and certain times so I had to make sure my mom would record it. My mom knew I loved it so much that she made people from Brazil bring me DVDs of the shows so I can watch it whenever I want.
Needless to say, I am proud to be Brazilian and I really wouldn’t want to be any other heritage. There are so many other things that I did differently growing up with a Brazilian background. I wouldn’t have changed a thing growing up. Learning a different language and seeing things differently is very special. I love meeting people who are the same heritage as me because it really makes everything better. But, despite everything, I love being able to live in America and have amazing opportunities.