“Always keep an open mind and heart— it’s the best way to experience the culture to its fullest!”
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m 23 years old, I’m a vegetarian, and I’ve always been fascinated by diversity. Discovering the world has always been a dream of mine— I’m turning it into reality, little by little. I’ve had the chance to visit some countries in Europe and Asia, besides my homeland, Brazil. However, I have never lived an experience as intense as the one I had in India. God, how I miss it!
What brought you to India?
I had always wanted to visit India but had never thought about working there. Then, in 2018, I left my job in Brazil and decided to have an international experience that could potentially change my life. I found a job opportunity in India and without thinking twice, embraced it. Three weeks after the recruitment process, I was on the plane flying across the globe. The best decision I’ve ever made!
What was your first impression of the country? Has it changed at all?
It was more of a confirmation than a first impression— the chaos is real, and much more intense than we think it is if it’s even possible! And this impression hasn’t changed at all. However, what we don’t see on the news and social media is that no matter how chaotic things can be, somehow everything always works! Chaotically and differently, yes, but it does! Then again, there’s nothing better to help you fully realize you’re in India than seeing cows crossing the road and jamming the entire highway! It’s fun!
Culture shock was inevitable. What was your biggest shock, and how did you get over it?
I was aware that living in India would be very different from anything I had ever experienced. So I came prepared for the apparent differences— religion, language, etc. The first thing that caught my attention was the relationship and the dynamics of social interaction between men and women. I am from a Latin country where the connection between people always flows naturally, regardless of their gender. It was strange to see men and women as two completely different and disconnected spectrums. For instance, men were very close to each other physically in public spaces– hugging, holding hands, etc. –, but very far apart and completely disconnected from women. It took me some time to get used to it, but after a while, everything looked normal to me.
Did you ever get homesick? If yes, what did you miss the most?
I must say that I missed the food from home sometimes, but I didn’t get homesick. After all, living in India was so exciting that I hardly had time to think about and miss the life I used to have in Brazil.
What are the best things and the worst things about living and working in India?
The best thing about living in India is living diversity to its fullest. You get to see and interact with people from entirely different backgrounds and beliefs but are very similar in their love for the country and union as a community. I met many friendly and helpful people who made my experience much easier and unforgettable. India is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. It’s also one of those places that always gives you opportunities to learn more about life and yourself, and how to become a better version of yourself. Nonetheless, the not-so-good part about living in India is that you always have to watch what you eat and where you get your food/water from. Staying healthy on this side of the world is much harder.
India is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. It’s also one of those places that always gives you opportunities to learn more about life and yourself, and how to become a better version of yourself.
In terms of work, collaborating with people from so many different cultural backgrounds – origin, language, and beliefs – is an incredible experience. Differences make us unique and always enrich the exchange of experiences and knowledge. The negative aspect, however, would be how social influences are brought into work, especially the hierarchical power structure that determines the working relationship among employees.
Processes are usually more bureaucratic than usual, and may take a lot of time just because “that’s how they have to be.”
What are your views on the work culture in India, in your industry and overall?
As far as my experience in India goes, I see Indian people as hard-workers. They work extremely hard and for many hours straight too! However, I also felt a strong sense of conformity and submission in many people I worked with. Older/family-owned companies are usually divided into two groups: one group of people who give orders and one group of people who must follow blindly. This determines the relationship and interactions between these two groups. In such companies, it’s hard to change old methods and processes, even if they are no longer efficient. Asking “why” or “why not” is nothing but a utopic idea.
What would you say is the best way to spend your free time in Delhi?
During the day, the best thing to do is to go sightseeing! Delhi has many beautiful famous monuments, as well as some incredible hidden gems. There’s always something to see! In the evenings, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to visit! Cultural activities are also a good way to experience the local culture.
Do you miss India? If so, what do you miss about it?
I miss India every single day. I miss the amazing food; seeing the beauty in every corner, people living their faith in such a powerful yet light way, and witnessing unity in differences. But most of all, I miss having India as my mentor. Its lessons completely changed my life and perspective of the world. I will forever be grateful and delighted that I had the opportunity to live such an intense and incredible experience.
Finally, any advice to newbies?
Always keep an open mind and heart— it’s the best way to experience the culture to its fullest. India will give you daily opportunities to learn more about life, the environment surrounding you and yourself. Make the best of them!