If you can't beat 'em, live there

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.


A lot of people tell me they are jealous of my adventurous spirit. I don't mean for that to sound cocky... it's just that that's what people say. I think most people who haven't done it think it's a glamorous lifestyle. In some ways they're right - travelling and living abroad obviously has it's appeal, otherwise why would people do it? There is the challenge and excitement it adds to the mundane-ness of everyday life. The downside, however, is that you never really feel completely at home in any given place. Especially for those people who are divided by more than one country with family.

I spent a lot of time thinking about all the great things about Canada while I was living in Brazil. And now I still do the same thing, only I am thinking about Brazil. I really try to keep things in perspective - I know that there are several factors affecting my happiness at the moment. It's winter (that will never end); I live in my mom's house in the basement; I am not teaching English; I have a newborn baby and don't sleep a lot. Many things at the same time that make it difficult to look on the bright side of things.

But, the big difference is that, when we were in Brazil Ro always told me that if I wanted to go back, we could. I always said no, it's not time yet. I'm not ready to leave. I haven't finished what I needed to do (whatever that was). Well, here I obsessively think about going back to Brazil. I think about all the things I wished I were doing right now - teaching, yoga outside, running on Praia de Botafogo, going to the beach, looking at the Cristo, looking at mountains, walking everywhere, being close to a bigger family, spending time with friends in Brazil, speaking Portuguese, being challenged by daily life, eating pao na chapa, raising Stella there.

I think a lot about raising Stella there. Brazilians are definitely much more open and accepting of children as a part of society. They are not inconveniences, they are not just children. They are future adults, members of society. She would be a part of a bigger community of people who stop just to talk to you because you have a baby. She would speak Portuguese, for sure. She would also speak English, for sure. She would be raised in the Brazilian community and learn the art of modesty and of valuing belongings. She would also have an equally strong Canadian and English upbringing. I don't know how strong the Brazilian in her would come through living here. I don't know. That's the thing.

I just don't know. I have so many questions. There are so many 'what ifs'. What do I do? Can someone tell me what the right choice is? If we went back, we would have to do it right. We would bring our belongings instead of imagining we could somehow afford them there. We would have enough money for a down payment on a house, ideally. Knowing what we know now... we would do it differently. But I think it's what we want. I think it's what would make us happiest. How odd... I was so unhappy for so long in Brazil... things only shine clear once you're out of the situation, I guess. I see now that I finally beat Brazil, it didn't beat me. And once you beat it, it's hard to leave it... so you might as well just stay.

9 Responses to If you can't beat 'em, live there

  1. Meredith

    Living in Brazil with a baby is hard because everything is expensive, and the quality of products is crap (unless you're paying R$250 for a dress your daughter will only wear once). You're right about Brazilians loving babies. I love that! But I am ready to leave Brazil, which we're doing in 3 months. Toys are expensive, diapers are expensive, day care and private school....

    I don't have the answer for you. I remember, from reading your old blog, how unhappy you were here so do you think you're just "the grass is always greener on the other side"? We're leaving Brazil but not returning to the US...maybe that's what you guys need :).

  2. bornagainbrazilian

    Come back! It's funny how clear a picture distance provides. But honestly, I was miserable, though in denial, my first year. Then, I settled into life. Go with your heart!

  3. David

    I know how you feel about missing Brazil. I had to leave Sao Paulo and my partner while my permanent visa was being approved. Luckily, I could get my job back in Tokyo. The visa is now in my passport and I am counting the seconds until June when I return to Brazil. (I should go NOW but I just want to save a bit more money). I know that Brazil is the right place for me. Of course it is--it allows me and my same-sex partner the right to legally be together. My own country--the USA--does not allow that. Since I left Brazil last August, I have been under the darkest skies. The loneliness is palpable. It threatens to swallow me up....
    I also know what you mean about moving back and "doing it right." I had originally thought about staying in Japan for two years to save money to build a little house on the piece of land I have in Minas. Nope. Can't do it. Can't stay away. Just getting back to Brazil and being there is doing it right. Send me strength for the next 3 months. I send you mine.

  4. Tiffany

    Do it! I think if you don't do it now you never will, and it sounds like after taking a step back that is what you realized you really want. So if that's what you want, then go for it.

  5. natty m

    is it possible that you are comparing your lifestyle in rio (no new baby, job you love, independence from cold weather, your ideal living space, etc.) to your lifestyle in canada? perhaps you are suffering because of the changes in your life and not the location change. there are a lot of great things about being here, but you seem to have forgotten the everyday bad things too. it sounds like you definitely beat brazil, but stella won't have the same tools as a baby. consider how calm and safe her childhood could be there in canada.

  6. Lindsey Costard

    Wow, I love all the comments. Very helpful and insightful...
    @Meredeth, where are you guys going? You're so right about the cost of living being sooooo much higher. It's def on our minds...

    @BAB and Tiff thanks for the encouragement - we just know that we need a bit more time here first so we can go back more prepared! Otherwise I can see things being even harder...

    @David I remember you were feeling the same way a few months ago when you commented. I hope the next 3 months pass quickly and you can be reunited with your partner and in the place you know you belong... at least you ventured out and tried it though.

    @Natty After I wrote it all out, I was thinking exactly what you said. Maybe I'm missing pre-baby life more than JUST the place. It's totally possible and probably pretty likely so I'm trying to keep that in perspective too!

    Thanks all for your comments :)

  7. Corinne

    I am in month 3 of a 12 month sabbatical stateside and suffering much of the adaptation issues you have been describing. I definitely know Brazil is for me. I am enjoying being here and it is a great experience for my kid, but there is so much I miss about Brazil. See where you are in 4 months, living in your own space, but I suspect you will still want to come back for good :)

  8. Rafael Linhares

    Lindsay, hi.. My name is rafael.. I want to talk to you something.. I live in rio de janeiro, plz email me at rafaellinhares92@gmail.com tks

  9. Rafael Linhares

    Lindsey plz email me.. I want to ask u something... I live in rio de janeiro... Rafaellinhares92@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Show me love with your comments!