Lucky Number Eight
It feels like it was yesterday. Back in June, it was eight years since I left Brazil for the UK, with little more than a couple of hundred quid in my pocket, a backpack with a few clothes, Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and high expectations.
In 2002, things were tough in Brazil. As a journalist, the situation was getting really dire – companies in the sector merging, others shutting their doors and the publisher I happened to work at was also going tits-up. I seriously considered a job at the local pet shop.
Then – tada! – the wonderful national social security system came to the rescue. I suddenly had what was a massive lump of cash for a 22-year old in redundancy pay in my pocket. I had to work out my options quickly, and I tell you, they were not many.
The process of deciding to head to London, making the necessary preparations and actually getting on a plane all happened over a space of five days, precisely.
Because I’d heard of the all-too-common deportations of my fellow countrymen shortly after they land in the UK, I bought a ticket with a stop-over in Madrid, just in case the old Home Office decided to boot me out and I had to resort to a Plan B. Luckily, I didn’t need to.
My real ambition was to have a by-lined article written in English and I said to myself I was going to make that happen. What I did not consider that the fact I was a really tiny fish in a huge pool, my English was not that great and I was broke. I calculated I would not last longer than a couple of months; fast-forward eight years and a few rollercoaster rides and here I am!
Back then, the UK was the land of opportunity, where you could earn sh*tloads of money to send home and buy a house of whatever (I never did), where everything seemed promising for the future. Now read the newspapers and hold your head in despair.
Now, Brazil is the world’s darling. Lots of Brazilians I met are now back, looking to surf in this massive wave of growth and, obviously, have a much better quality of life than working 16 hours a day as a kitchen porter, or a courier facing snow and slippery roads in the winter. Lots of ‘gringoes’ I know want to move there.
I am no different to the millions of Brazilians who came to the UK to find a better life. But I was jammy enough to get this blogging opportunity from Jungle – the Chinese say eight is the lucky number, don’t they? – to compare the two countries, the opportunities and downsides and hopefully have some conversation with you guys about the pros and cons of leaving everything behind to start anew in a foreign country.
I hope you will enjoy this column as much as I’m sure I will have fun writing it. Till next post!
Angelica Mari is a Brazilian journalist who has been living in London since 2002. Like many others, she has flipped burgers, cleaned toilets and washed dishes until finally getting to do the job she loves. Angelica will be sharing her experience of living in the Smoke for nearly a decade and comparing her native Brazil with her current home in the post-recession world and questioning whether the grass is really always greener on the other side of the fence.