It's fun to see Brazil through the eyes of my four-year-old granddaughter, Gabriella, because she's loquacious and uninhibited. Her first days in Brazil were most remarkable because everything was a "first-time experience". Here's some samples:
me: there goes a mosquito.
she (looking scared): I think I'll get down from my bed. (bunkbed)
she (looking at the floor): There's a bug, Grandma!
me: That's just a mark on the tile.
she (looking up at the table where a fly has just landed): Grandma, what's that?
me: a fly. Just wave your hand at it and it will go away and I procede to teach her the song, "Shoo, fly! Don't bother me!"
Another "scary" incident was when Gabriella accidently threw the toilet paper in the toilet. You might be asking, isn't that where toilet paper is supposed to go? Well, not in this country. Here we throw toilet paper in the wastebasket, and Gabriella had been carefully instructed on this matter before even arriving in Brazil. Her first day here she told me several times that she didn't know how to use the bathroom here and asked me to go with her. So, I showed her how. A couple of days later when our house was full of family members who'd arrived to see them, and we adults were sitting around the kitchen table talking and probably eating, we heard a loud wail and soon Gabriella appeared, panties down, crying her heart out. We all wondered what terrible thing had happened to her and then she sobbed, "I forgot and put the paper in the toilet! Waaaaaa!" Aunties came scurrying around to comfort little Gabriella, one even rescuing some of the paper from its demise, as we all tried to reassure her everything would be all right!!
And it was!
Little by little Gabriella is getting courageous enough to try out a new Portuguese word. She babbles once in a while thinking she is speaking Portuguese (but it isn't!!). Her new neighbor friend, João Vitor, is giving her informal lessons as they play together. (And I think he is learning more English than the other way around!)
Even children go through culture shock.