It is more than two years when I decided to learn Portuguese because of love and interest. Of course Brazilian Portuguese. It has always been my dream to travel to Brazil someday – as soon as I would have enough money. Seeing the Amazon, visiting the carnival and definitely go swimming at the Copacabana. I fulfilled my dream two years ago. For three months I travelled through Brazil, to Rio, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, the Pantanal and to Ouro Preto. I haven’t experienced the Amazon and the carnival yet. But I will fetch later. I promise! Because I plan to go on my third trip to Brazil this year. And who knows what I will experience there that time. But to be honest: Indeed I plan a trip to Brazil but with no return. I want to live there, stay there, work there. And finally building a life with my boyfriend – after three years in a long-distance relationship.
It is a big challenge, to build a new life abroad – no matter where. The bureaucracy likes to put a spoke in somebody’s wheel. Because you have to pack your whole stuff not only in a few small suitcases, but also to do a lot of paperwork. You need a valid passport that does not expire in the next six months. Other documents, such as a recent good-conduct certificate or a birth certificate are necessary for permanent stays. And of course you also need – especially in non-European countries – a visa. But that always depends on the country. Getting a visa can be quite a balancing act. Because you have to prove a reason why you want to or have to live permanently in a country. Be it for studies, work or just because of your partner. And exactly that is the problem. I have heard from some foreigners that it is difficult to get a work or permanent residence visa for Brazil. Because it is attached to certain conditions, such as a profound of Portuguese. I wouldn’t call myself a fluent Portuguese speaker. Indeed I understand conversations between natives, I can talk with them and also talk about myself. And I would survive there probably, but I still have to learn so much. Without language skills you will not get any work, and without work, you have no money. It is a vicious cycle. Especially if you work, like me, in the editorial area.
Of course, I have already thought about other ways how to live permanently in Brazil. And there are some very strange suggestions. Did you know, for example, that you can apply for a permanent residence visa after two years of illegal stay in Brazil? This law exists since a few years and is the governments response to the high number of illegal immigrants. Especially in the favelas many of foreigners hide from deportation. A departure is possible for them, but they need to pay a fine. In rare cases even a prison sentence threatens. And you really don’t want to stay in a Brazilian prison. Because the gang wars in the favelas are displaced to the prisons and are continued there. As a foreigner staying there wouldn’t be easy most probably. But the fine isn’t really a deterrent. Just eight Reais – about 3 Euros – are calculated per day. And not more than 100 days are calculated. So the maximum penalty is around 800 reais. When leaving you get a bill with the fine which you have to pay on your return. Very tolerant, I think. In other countries even entry bans are imposed.
Another option is to get an enrolment on a Brazilian university. But in order to enrol, you have to pass the vestibular, a general knowledge test, in which all school subjects are queried. There are students who sign in special training courses two years before writing that test, just for passing it. For foreign students there are no exceptions. The vestibular is – as it should be otherwise – in Portuguese. And international studies with English courses are only offered at bigger universities, such as São Paulo or Rio or at special academies. So very good language skills are an absolute must. Therefore you should think twice about taking a full-time study in Brazil. But there is a small temporary solution: You can sign in a German language course at a Brazilian university, and then you will get a student visa for six months. The problem is that you can just apply for that visa when you are in Germany. So you have to contact the universities and to fix your enrollment from abroad. This can be really difficult sometimes. Many universities namely neither offer any bilingual website nor a contact person for international students. There is simply a lack of personal contact, local knowledge and there are just too many risks. What if you get no work visa or the job offer is different from the description?
Indeed a return always possible when emigrating, but it is exhausting and requires a tremendous emotional strength to overcome this setback. I know whereof I speak. My second trip to Brazil should be the beginning of my new life, but I failed, as so often – and just because of a missing document. And so I went back home after three months. No savings, my boyfriend 10,000 kilometers far away and starting over again. But this year I will make it better and I have already a great plan. And this time I will not forget any document!