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BNCC and Culturas bring together ambassadors and lusophone community in Oslo

News Posted on Tue, November 29, 2016 11:18:00

Together with the Embassy of Brazil and the Embassy of Portugal, the Brazilian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (BNCC) and Culturas invited the lusophone community to discuss the role of Portuguese as a language in Norway.

At total, 45 Portuguese speakers attended the event on November 24th at the African Cultural Institute in Oslo. The main goal of the evening was to strength the network among professionals who speak Portuguese in Norway.

Since 2014, BNCC and Culturas hold the Annual Brazilian Professionals meeting, and this year, the event extended the invitation to all Portuguese speakers, native and learners, including people from Portugal, Mocambique, Angola and Norwegians.

The ambassador of Brazil, George Monteiro Prata, and the Ambassador of Portugal, Clara Nunes dos Santos, joined the event and presented the importance of this language in the world. After a mingling session and refreshments, the participants were invited to a Brazilian movie session to watch Caramuru (Guel Arraes).

CEO of Culturas Larissa Costa Slottet introduces the guests
BNCC director, Harald Martisen, the ambassador of Portugal, Clara Nunes do Santos and the ambassador of Brazil, George Monteiro Prata

Are Norwegians rude?

Articles Posted on Thu, January 28, 2016 22:18:39

Probably one of the most common stereotypes that you will hear about Norwegians is how their demeanor can be a bit cold or reserved at times. Most expats will tell you this, and most Norwegians will almost talk about this stereotype with pride. A few things you might hear are, “Nobody talks to their neighbors.” “You don’t make friends in the gym.” “People will look at you like you’re crazy if you talk to them in public.” “The only acceptable time to talk to a stranger is when you are hiking.” The list goes on and on, but the comments are always about how people have a bubble, both social and physical, and you need to to respect that bubble at all times.

Well, I am going to have to stand up for Norwegians and say that this stereotype is just not true. Okay, I need to be fair and say that my experience is repetitive of the entire expat community. Some expats may have found Norwegians to be a bit cold and reserved, but I have found Norwegians to be quite the opposite. The only exception is the woman at the post office, but I guess bad experiences at the post office is a stereotype that can cross any border.

I have never been shy, and I have never had a problem talking to complete strangers. I guess that I get it from my mother who feels the need to say howdy to every stranger she has ever met in a line. I talk to my neighbors, people at the gym, and people in the park all the time. Nobody has been rude or unpleasant to me, and I have even made a few friends. So what is going on here? I am either an anomaly or I am completely oblivious to how uncomfortable I am making Norwegians.

My opinion on the matter is that Norwegians have bought into the outdated stereotype of being reserved and have now begun to use it as an excuse to be rude when it suits them. However, expats feel that Norwegians are cold because most Expats are too afraid to push through the initial awkward conversation because they fear that they might offend.

My advice to expats is to keep pushing a conversation with a Norwegian forward, no matter how awkward it may be. Norwegians are just like everybody else on earth and want to talk about their lives and connect. It just may take a few more minutes. You should also not be so scared to offend someone. Trust me, Norwegians have extremely thick skin and are very skilled at sarcasm, so just take everything said as light humor.

My advice to Norwegians is to stop buying into this whole reserved act. I have seen you after a few beers, so we are way past that charade. Don’t pass your neighbor or co-worker on the street without saying hello, be friendly to expats, but don’t tell me that you being rude is a part of the culture. It’s not!

I know Norwegians to be friendly, inviting, helpful, curious, hilarious, and incredibly kind. Change the stereotype to reflect how your culture truly is.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

2015 review in 10 episodes

Vlog Posted on Mon, January 04, 2016 09:41:13

First things first: the Culturas team wishes a happy and productive new year to all of our readers! 2015 has been a good year and great things are coming in 2016, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here you can find one of the projects of last year. Throughout 2015, Culturas vlog gave 10 adaptation tips for expats living in Norway. From recycling, to winter clothes and Norwegian classes, you can find all episodes in our YouTube channel ( oslo). The last one was a special Christmas edition, take a look:

Danger in Rio

Articles Posted on Mon, December 21, 2015 16:59:49

It’s true, Rio de Janeiro is a dangerous city, but it is not
as dangerous as some make it out to be. I think that I need to admit that I
have been mugged in Rio, and many of my expat and Brazilian friends have been
mugged there too. In this post I will explain
what it feels like to get mugged and how to avoid being mugged, so you can go
on to live a happy and safe life in your new location.

I got mugged on a beautiful Friday night. Warm with a nice breeze, the weather was
perfect. My husband got off work, and we
decided to go to our favorite Bruschetta place, Prima, to share a bottle of
Cava. One bottle turned to two, and
before we knew it, we had to head off to our dinner party. It seemed like a crime not to walk to our
destination since it was such a lovely night.
Tempted to walk along the beach, we knew better because we heard stories
about gringos getting mugged along the beachside at night. We took the main
street down, crossed the bridge from Leblon to Ipanema and turned down the
street that would lead us to our destination, or so we thought.

We turned onto the Av. Vieira Souto, which is the street
where the beach is, but we were still two blocks away from our destination!
Thanks a lot, Google Maps. My gut told me that we should go back and go down
the right street just to be safe, but the two bottles of Cave told me that it
was just two blocks and that we would be fine. We started casually walking down
the street laughing when all of a sudden two children were feeling my pockets. I thought that they were begging for money,
so I simply told them that I did not have any.
My thought process was, “Okay, they just want money. They sure are aggressive for beggars… OH, they
had knives. WHY ARE THEY JABBING AT ME? What do they want? Okay, phone. Phone
it is. Here is my phone. Go on now.
GO.” I gave them my phone, and
they moved to my husband, who held a bag in front of him and said, “No
Telefone.” A doorman from a building came out and scared the two kids away
before they took my husbands phone. It
was over. We, I mean, I had been mugged.
The only thing left to do at that point was to go to our dinner party
and drink until getting robbed by a 10-year-old was funny.

I hope that you will never be mugged, but give them whatever
they ask for if you do find yourself being mugged. There is nothing you own
worth getting hurt over. The only
friends of mine who have been hurt were the ones who fought back. DO NOT FIGHT BACK. The reason they send children to mug you is
that they cannot be held in prison. You
never know who is watching and if there are more of their older friends ready
to jump in.

Here a few things that you can do to avoid getting mugged.

1. Don’t wear
jewelry or flashy items. If an item holds any real or emotional value to you,
don’t take it out of your house. A
distraught Australian woman asked me at the police station if I thought there
was any hope of the police finding her irreplaceable earrings. I almost giggled, as I told her no, which did
not seem to please her at all. Most
people wear their wedding bands, but I would not wear a big diamond ring if you
are lucky enough to have one. Don’t wear anything dangly that is gold or silver
colored. Thay will take it whether it is
fake or not.

2. Keep an eye on
your things at the beach: Make sure that
all of your items are in front of you and that you can see them at all
times. I had a friend who hung her
phone, cash, and credit cards off the side of her chair and sure enough, her
things were gone within the hour. It is
not just strangers who will take your things at the beach; it is the vendors
too, so be careful of where you put your things. However, you will be asked to watch other
people’s items all the time. As a
gringo, you are somehow trustworthy and usually, Brazilians first to look after
their things while they go into the water.
Leaving your things with other people is your judgment call.

THE BEACH AT NIGHT. It is okay when the
sun first goes down because the streets are full of people, and there is a ton
of traffic, but around 20:00 is when it starts to get a little bit iffy. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s dark and no
one is around, you should probably go there. It is okay to go to a kiosk along
the beach at night if you are with a group of friends, but still make sure
there are no dangling bags of the sides of chairs.

4. Don’t put your
phone or wallet on the table. Someone
can run by ant any time and grab and run off with it. The waiters in Rio are really good at telling
you to put your things away and scaring off unwelcome company.

5. Avoid tunnels.
You will not run into many tunnels that you will walk through in Rio, except
one. There is one that will take you
from Copacabana to Rio Sul, which is a huge shopping mall and office building
that holds many Norwegian companies and the Norwegian Consulate. I would advise you never to walk through this
tunnel. It is not very long, but it is
very dangerous. Many people have mugged
in this tunnel, and I have a friend who was assaulted.

6. Women should
never take cabs alone at night. Brazil does have a chauvinistic culture, so a
woman arguing with a chauvinistic driver in any way can lead to major
confrontation. Many of my female friends have had very bad and even creepy
experiences with their cab drivers.

The main piece of advice that I can give you is never to
feel too comfortable in Rio. Most stories about a gringo getting mugged have
one thing in common, and that is that they have felt too at home in Rio de Janeiro. It is important to remember that you are not
in Norway any longer, and there are many people ready to take advantage of you
if allowed the opportunity. You are a
gringo. You look like a gringo. You
indirectly act like a gringo. Remember this and always be aware, always keep an
eye open, always keep your guard up.
Annnnnnnnd maybe not get super drunk.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Opportunities for Norwegian students to study in Brazil

News Posted on Mon, December 21, 2015 16:53:03

BNCC (Brazilian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce) and University of Oslo will gather Norwegian students on February, 3rd to talk about the range of opportunities to study in Brazil.
The meeting will be held at grupperom 1, on 3rd floor of Georg Sverdrups Hus, Blindern Campus from 14:30 to 16:00.

Culturas team will be part of the program and will discuss the importante of cross cultural training for students living abroad. The event also include a presentation of The Senter for internasjonalisering av utdanning (SIU) about the reasons to choose Brazil as a place to study, testimonials from students and a coffee with mingling.

If you are interested to participate, send an e-mail to Please register before January 30th.

The Three-Month Slump

Articles Posted on Mon, November 23, 2015 10:09:39

Recently, I woke up and stared out the window for a full hour before getting out of bed. I thought of nothing, but I kept staring out my window at the few leaves that had not yet fallen from the tree in my back yard. Since that day, getting out of bed became a struggle, and all of my obligations were met with indifference. My workouts became low in energy, I stopped writing, and I stopped studying Norwegian. I did not feel sad or lonely, but I did feel very apathetic about my life in Norway. Some may call this depression, some may blame it on the weather becoming cold and dark, but it is nothing more that a common expat problem called the three-month slump.

The three-month slump may not be a clinical diagnosis, but it is a very common problem that many expat spouses face. I have faced this problem both in Norway and in Rio, and I have also spoken to many other spouses in both countries who have felt the same way. I am sure that everyone’s reasoning why is different, but the common thread does seem that people tend to feel a little depressed after three months of living in a new country.

Why three months? Well, three months is just enough time for all the glittery newness of a city to wear off. Nothing is special or exciting, and the usual habits of one’s relationship creep back in. The language skills needed for survival are usually acquired after three months, and any language training becomes more of a hobby than a necessity. A few friends are found, but no strong bonds have yet formed, and you wonder if you are friends with those people just because they are in a similar situation. Simply put, three months is the time it takes for one to understand what their life will be like in that particular country.

It would be unfair to generalize why people go into the three-month slump, but for me it was linked to purpose. I constantly worked before I moved to Rio, and I loved doing it. For me, working has always been a beautiful distraction from life and it gave me complete and total freedom over my finances. Giving up financial freedom and losing purpose from my day to day made me feel as if I lost all control over my life. I constantly wondered if I had made a huge mistake about moving to Rio and thought about all the other possibilities that could have been. The worst part was that I had all the time in the world to think about these issues and wallow in self-doubt and pity. I wanted to express my feelings to my partner, but it is hard for the person who is working to be empathetic to your situation. Not being able to get an empathetic response made the whole ordeal isolating and lonely.

What did not help the three-month slump? Suggestions. Suggestions from your spouse or other people are not helpful and downright annoying. I understand that people what to be helpful, and that is great, but telling someone in the three-month slump that they should teach English, volunteer, study, go for a walk, develop a hobby, etc. is telling someone something they have already thought of a thousand times over. The most important thing you can do for someone in the three-month slump is to listen and show as much empathy as possible. Giving suggestions is a form of sympathy and will only make someone feel further detached and alone. Truly try to feel with your spouse or friend and understand and support their feelings. It is common for expat spouses to group together and complain about their situation or problems they are having with the country. If you find yourself in this type of group, get out! Surrounding yourself with negative people will only prolong your three-month slump, and it can ruin your entire experience of living abroad. Living in another country should be an adventure, so you have got to find people who are in love with living in that particular country. Positive people will help see new possibilities and help lead you to find what you should do to make you feel fulfilled and happy.

What does help the three-month slump? This is a complicated question because everyone had different needs that must be met. One thing that helped me was to write in a journal every day. Through writing, I was able to process my feelings and sometimes realize how ridiculous I was being. The other thing that helped me out was implementing some real obligations throughout my day. I started walking dogs in Rio, and that was what finally kicked me out of my slump. Having someone or something depend on you each day will restore purpose to your life. I recently got a puppy of my own in Oslo to snap me out of my three-month slump here. The most important thing that you can do is to fake being happy. It is okay to feel down sometimes, but it can become a habit. Every time you have a negative thought stop yourself and turn that thought into the most positive thing you can think of like a hundred puppies running through a field of flowers. Thinking happy thoughts helped me view my surroundings in a whole new light and identify things and people who were counterproductive to my happiness.

The three-month slump can be a tough obstacle to overcome, but once you do, the country you live in will come alive again, and you can experience a true adventure. I have a favorite quote that I repeat to myself whenever I feel down, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” Some may find this quote a bit depressing, but to me it means that life is too short to spend a moment hating it. Be happy, be positive, love your life, and let everything good consume your entire being until the day you die, or you can just get a puppy. It is either or really.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Let’s get started: networking in Oslo!

Vlog Posted on Tue, November 17, 2015 09:31:18

The new vlog episode gives ideas to start a social and/or professional network in Oslo. Meeting interesting and influential people can change your experience in a new country. One of the groups is the Brazilian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (BNCC). Take a look at the video and share your thoughts with us!

Learning Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro

Articles Posted on Tue, November 17, 2015 00:13:05

“Learning Portuguese is easy! All you have to do is read
Portuguese for an hour a day, write Portuguese for an hour a day, and speak
Portuguese for an hour a day. Easy
right! Yeah, I didn’t think so. If you are a disciplined person,
congratulations, but if you are like me and get distracted by things like
Netflix or a social life than learning a new language can be a bit tricky. Before I give advice on how to learn
Portuguese or what tools to use, I want to explain my history with Portuguese
and the learning process. I went through
four different language schools, used Rosetta Stone, had two privet tutors, and
used multiple apps and audio books to help me learn Portuguese. Before I left Brazil, I went on a weekend
trip and was able to survive the entire weekend with only speaking
Portuguese. I may not be fluent, but I
hope that you can learn from some of the mistakes that I made.

The first thing that you will need to do is find a language
school that you like and stay in that particular language school. It helps to
be in a group, so only use personal tutoring to clarify any questions that you
may have. My biggest mistake was hopping
from one school to the next and hoping to get different results. All that happened was that I had to start
from scratch and adapt to a new methodology.
I think language schools are like workout programs. All of them work if you actually manage to do
the work. Here is a quick rundown of the
schools that I attended.

PUC: This is a university in Rio. PUC was the first school that I went to, and
they focus a lot on grammar. We did not
spend much time speaking, but I did leave the course with a good knowledge of
the grammar rules. When we did speak
Portuguese, it was often about topics that would not help in your everyday
life. The class is four hours long and in the middle of the day, so PUC may not
be the best for professionals.

Casa do Caminho: I had a bad experience there, but I had many
friends who used this school and liked it.
All of these friends eventually left the school and switched to a
different language program.

Carioca Languages: This was my favorite school, and I would
recommend to anyone. The material was
interesting and relevant, and the teachers are all friendly and engaging. I went to this school for the longest period
and loved it there. The only problem is that it is in Copacabana, which makes
it hard to bike when it’s forty degrees outside. I think it’s best if you find
a language school close to your home or work.

Português Carioca: This school is great if you want to focus on
pronunciation. The methodology is all
about repetition. The things you learn
in class tend to stay with you because you have said them over and over
again. I found the material to move
slowly, but the things I learned there have stuck with me.

The reason I am not fluent in Portuguese is that I was
foolishly shy when in came to speaking, and it was all for no reason. This fear
prohibited me from doing exactly what I needed to do, which was practice speaking
to Brazilians. It was not until my third year in Rio that I got over my fear
and just started speaking without caring how I sounded. I was able to conquer my fear with a healthy
dose of public humiliation. My
breakthrough moment was when I went to the beach with a bunch of gringos and
just spoke Portuguese for an hour. I truly thought that the Brazilians around
us would make fun of me, but that was not the case at all. No one cared about how we were speaking, not
even one crazy glance or eye roll was thrown our way. Once I realized that no one cared, I took
over the conversation and could not stop talking. It was like my body wanted to release three
years of repressed language skills. Ever
since that moment I have been trying to find ways to make learning a language
more fun. Here are the fun ways I began
to study Portuguese.

Duo Lingo: This
“game” is great for helping you learn sentence structure. I think that it’s
amazing for building vocabulary and does a good job of being repetitious without
being annoy. It only takes about fifteen
minutes and is a good way to start the day.

Brazilian Pod Class:
This podcast has over 513 episodes for your to listen and practice. Will you
learn tons of Portuguese? No. Will you
get to listen to interesting topics that are relevant to your life? Absolutely.
You will want to listen to some episodes of this podcast many times
because they go into confusing words in Portuguese that tend to have many

MPB: It’s a
radio station that plays popular Brazilian music.

Texting: One of
the best tools for learning a language is to start texting your friends in
their native language. I had one friend
who just refused to speak English to me, and I incidentally picked up so much
slang and new vocabulary just by texting him in Portuguese. Of course, I have to use Google translate for
some words, but over time I just stopped using Google translate all together
and survived on what I knew.

Telenovelas: It
is great to watch TV in Brazil. The news
is nice, but the newscasters can talk a bit fast at times. I think the Telenovelas are better because
they characters speak much more slowly, and the plot lines are complete
nonsense. You will find yourself repeating the phrases that the actors say so

Porta dos Fundos:
This I a comedy group based in Rio, and they have many videos on YouTube. They speak very fast, but you can turn on
subtitles and follow along. I think that
the videos are really funny and represent current Brazilian culture. If you watch these videos, you will get an
insight to what Brazilian humor is.

The truth is that you will be able to learn enough
Portuguese to survive in about three months.
Many people get to a certain level and just never advance no matter how
long they live in Brazil, so it’s important that you have fun learning. If learning feels like an obligation, then
you will most likely not do your homework or use Google translate to do it for
you. Relax and enjoy the learning
process. Most importantly, never give up.
Rio is so much more fun once you can start having conversations and making
jokes with the locals.”

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

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