In this interview episode of the Aussie English Podcast I chat with Hugo Groom about learning Portuguese and embracing the Brazilian culture.
AE 529 – Interview: A Brazilian Bloke Born in an Aussie Body with Hugo Groom
G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of the Aussie English Podcast. I have thrown an introduction onto this episode because I want to give you a swear warning.
So, in this episode, I sit down with Hugo from Ozueiros Gringos, they are a group of two Australian guys who teach Brazilians English. So, these guys speak Portuguese. They’ve spent time over there. But we had a rather laid-back relaxed conversation that does include a little bit of swearing.
So, I just wanted to let you know so that if you are not interested in listening to a conversation where I drop the odd S-bomb or F-bomb, then skip this episode, listen to some others. If on the other hand you would like to hear how Australians speak to one another more naturally in a very informal kind of environment, then this is going to be the interview for you.
So, sit back, relax, and let’s get into it!
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English! Today have a special episode for you guys where I’m going to be chatting to Hugo Groom about how on earth you learnt Brazilian Portuguese to such a level and how Ozueiros Brasileiros, Ozueiros Gringos*, sorry. How Ozueiros Gringos started. So, man, introduce yourself. How did you end up here today?
Alright, Pete, here we go! Long story short, essentially my first, end of my first year of university I met some Brazilians when I was doing homestay at my mate’s place. Pretty funny because I’m now better mates with the Brazilian than I am with my Aussie childhood friend, whatever. Met him, he told me there’d be a bunch of Brazilians living on my street. Met them fell in love with the culture straightway, the musicality, the fun, the good vibe. One thing led to another. Initially, it was just a bit of a muck around in summer and suddenly decided I want to learn the language. After a year got pretty decent, made some videos that went viral and then finished university spent a year in Brazil, absolutely loved it. And then I sort of dropped off for a bit. Focus on other things, but it was always going to parties and everything and then I met Simon, who was just begun to getting into it himself and he said, he lived with me for a month and he said ”let’s do it!”. So, at the moment, we’re on a Christmas hiatus just sort of wondering what our plans for the next year. We joined forces to make videos and yeah, we went on SBS radio, we did a lot of things together and we just love Brazilian culture, it’s a lot of fun.
Where did you end up over in Brazil?
So, I started… it was pretty exciting, actually. I started off in Rio with a few mates then I went down to São Paulo, I love Sertanejo music.
You know Sertanejo. And then I travelled around Brazil, I went to the Amazon, I went south, I went to Goiânia, went North East, I ended up on the Morning Show in Rio, on Fátima Bernades.
Was that before or after learning Portuguese to fluency?
That was after, I was a bit disappointed because she kept asking some very basic gringo questions and I thought, c’mon! I already speak the language.
Well, what kind of questions was she asking you?
Oh, just like ”what does this mean?” and like, you know, just very basic like I was a dumb gringo and fair enough, but, not a problem, I was sort of…
Did she ask this one? (shows hand gesture).
No, learnt that one.
Sorry for those of you who can’t see with doing sort of rude symbols with the hands, so…
Yeah, no, so, yeah. I had an absolute ball. So, now I sort of live this, as Australian as I am, I live a double life, I’d say.
So, what was the bigger shock for you, going over to Brazil and what was the process of learning the language and the culture when you in when you went over there? Had you any experience to it prior to landing there in Brazil or are you just sort of, you know, practiced a bit at home and then went over did some Duolingo?
Well, to be honest, is my camera gone here or something?
No, I can see you.
Oh, sweet, ok. Ok, to be honest I was already quite fluent before I got there, but it was more the cultural shock which got me so, I realised that Brazil and Australia’s a completely different cup tea. Brazilians change here, they are a bit different. I honestly, I… yeah, I think you see, to be blatantly honest, I mean, controversial, I think you see the best of Brazil in Australia, you have the best of both worlds.
Really? So how do they change when they get here? I need ask my wife this, I have to be like, Kel, when I take you back to Brazil, what is going to happen?
So, am I allowed to be honest?
Man, go to town! I’m sure that even the Brazilians listening are going to want to hear the truth. So, you just be as honest as you want.
What happens in, obviously Brazil is a developing country with a huge social difference. What happens in those sort of with huge social divides is people who have a lot of money can often be quite snobbish or a lot of people, you know, basic education and politeness sometimes goes astray because people are used to sort of, how would I say, crapping on each other in a way. You know, and whereas we don’t realise sometimes a lot of Australians complain about what’s beautiful about our country is the way that, even though obviously there are differences, but the way you treat each other is very egalitarian.
I’m always saying that a people I’m like, you know, when you come over here you need to learn the slang, you need to sort of dive in a bit and be informal to kind of be more accepted, the more formal you are it’s kind of like you’re putting up walls and barriers and it feels uncomfortable.
I agree. And what I noticed in Brazil was that a lot of people were caring about image, how they’re seen, how much money and what they can afford. And for me, you know, as a just young Aussie bloke, I actually went to a private school here, the idea of me showing off…
Like a shirt or something seems absolutely stupid. Whereas in developing countries in places like Brazil it’s great. However, the Brazilian vibe, the sense of fun, sometimes I wish my Aussie mates had that and they don’t. So, for me, it’s the best of both worlds you find in Australia.
So, did you find yourself getting used to that after a while and becoming a bit more snobbish and wanting to show up a bit after you’ve been in Brazil for a while?
To be honest I went the opposite, I actually got a bit pissed off with it ’cause I thought ”Geez, where am I? What’s happened all the Brazilians I met in Australia?”. I mean, I absolutely had a ball, but sometimes I think…why did you just throw that rubbish, piece of rubbish on the ground? Controversial, why are you so religious? Please, relax. And after a while that actually started to grind on me. It really grounded me and I’m yeah, I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’ve caused a lot of issues here on these sort of points, but you just sort of realise a lot of differences and I absolutely love certain aspects of the culture, in fact most of it I do, but sometimes I go, oh Geez…and vice versa with Australian culture too, I just think, do we….I was in Brazil and I thought ”wow! people here when they get drunk kiss each other and hug each other and don’t bash each other!”.
Yes, it’s fantastic, you know. Whereas here we’re all… we can’t even have a night out here in Sydney without fear of someone bottling. You know, it’s stupid. So, it all depends. It’s all… what I thought was I thought Brazil was going to be this paradise. It is a fantastic place, but honestly, I thought… I probably, in my mind, in some dream world…
Well, that’s the same anywhere, right? Like, any time, you have, you’ve never been to a place you sort of have an idea in your head and I think too, the problem with Australia and the migrants we meet I think wherever they’ve come from they always tend to be the best of the batch, right? They always tend to be the creme de la creme. The best of them and so you think ”oh, everyone’s like this, everyone is really friendly and loving and outgoing”.
Exactly, well everyone was telling me, but in your mind when everyone is treating you fantastically at barbecues, you have Brazilian girlfriends, you’re playing music and having a great time, it’s very hard to accept that there might be issues.
Well, they probably have that in reverse, right? Where they meet Australians over there and they’re like ”oh these guys are so awesome and down to earth” and then they come to Australia and they’re like ”oh my Gosh! there’s all sorts here!”.
They find it hard to make friends at times and everything, I mean, they think we’re all blond surfers or whatever, just having fun on the beach and that’s fair enough. Same sort of thing. You know what I mean? So, yeah obviously I’ve been quite honest in the interview, but I absolutely loved it, it’s this sort of this passion. I’ve just gotten in a relationship now, but sort of been the first sort of relationship that’s never died for me.
With a Brazilian?
Yeah, it’s always been strong, she’s never left me so to speak.
So, what’s the hardest thing about being in a relationship with a Brazilian? And obviously you and I can probably tell a few stories, good and bad.
Ok. My girlfriend at the moment is extremely chilled, I must say, she’s fantastic. However, there are some little cultural differences like, for example, in Australian culture posting a mooning, stuff like that, it’s not a big deal, whereas I was going to post on Instagram and I copped a hiding, saying how dare you show your arse to anyone else? Just little things or if I’m too nice sometimes and say hey to other girls or whatever sometimes I cop a little… you know, ”what are you doing?” and I think, I was just being nice, but I can understand how that may be, that may come across as me being a bit cheeky.
But you need to take that as a compliment because that means she sees other people as a threat because you’re such a high-quality husband or boyfriend, right?
I absolutely agree with you.
That there’s a fine line, though, you’ve got to balance that fine line, you want other people to want you, but not too much.
I do I like to keep it, a little bit of jealousy is healthy, just so she knows, you know.
She’s not going to want to be with someone who every time they try and talk to a woman the woman, the woman runs, right? Or is like ”no way!”.
Exactly. No, I agree with you, Pete. And am I allowed to ask you about your story.
I don’t know. Mine was interesting so, I met her online through Aussie English teaching English and we just hit it off chatting, and she was just… I think, just no bullshit. Just didn’t take any shit. Had a good sense of humor, and is still like that now and isn’t afraid to sort of give me a slap if I do something wrong. And I think there was a bit of a cultural difference and I think too that the language really drew me in. I’d learn a little bit because I did Jiu Jitsu before meeting Kel so, I knew a bit of Brazilian Portuguese, but before, probably this year, I didn’t speak it fluently at least to have conversations all day with other Brazilians. But I loved that aspect of it and having the opportunity, now she’s pregnant, four months pregnant to have a kid.
To have a kid that will be able to raise with two languages, you know, that aspect of it.
Are you sort of in the same boat now that you’ve learned a foreign language and have obviously had relationships with foreigners, do you think you’ll ever go back to Aussies, if, God forbid, anything ended currently?
Okay. To be honest, I don’t know how like what sort of barriers are put up in the interview, but…
Man, just by you. These people are… most of the people listening are obviously wanting to learn about the culture, they want to know about everything so,.
Okay, firstly, to be blunt, I realized that I actually despite being a very white guy and myself. I don’t dig white chicks, like my girlfriend at the moment has a slightly darker skin and I just love it, and I always tell her, like, please, you know, just get as much sun as you like.
Is that a grass on the on the other side is greener, the grass is always greener where it’s like okay….
I grew up with everyone being… the same, in Brazil I know that white skin and everything blue eyes whatever is very prized over there because it’s different, but for me yeah, I really like coffee with milk so to speak. And I love the sort of musicality, the fun, that sense of excitement. I… to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve gone back to the origin, so to speak. So, I’ve always been a…
It’s very weird, isn’t it? I mean, and as a Australian who’s dated people from overseas, I’ve dated French people and Spanish people, and then Brazilians, and you realise how much more sort of in touch they are with their sexuality and they’re much more blunt and open, I think, than a lot of westerners and that’s a bit of a shock quite a bit too to quite a lot of people.
That’s interesting, I completely agree with you there, Pete, because what I noticed was a… feel like… this could be very controversial, but I feel like we have actually a very prudish sexual culture. I don’t know about Melbourne, in Sydney where it’s almost frowned upon to sort of make a move and be upfront sometimes when obviously you’ve got to have this fine line, you’ve always got to be respectful, but I feel like I never learned how to talk to a girl.
It’s gone crazy with, you know, social justice warriors and political correctness these days with anything can be seen, anything now that can be interpreted as sexual harassment whatever is always, it’s always the worst side of the story is assumed and so men, I think, a lot of men these days are afraid to do any of that.
Well, that’s it, I look at a lot of my friends and the girls clearly keen on them and they don’t make a move, I’m like…man! If she says no just bugger off.
That’s it, leave her alone.
Yeah, just leave her alone go away. But I think a lot of guys now are just afraid of coming off as, you know, being a misogynist or whatever and they are afraid to make the first move, but then ironically you meet people who like my wife Kel from Brazil and they were like ”if you had never made the first move, there was no way I would have gone there. You are the one who had to like get off your arse” and you know, say ”G’day” and get into it and pursue me, I’m not chasing you kind of attitude and you sort of like that is how it should be.
I was actually very slow, I remember the first, my first Brazilian girl sort of semi girlfriend when I was 19 she actually complained, she said “Geez… You are the hardest and slowest dude ever”. Because it took her 3 months to get me because I just, I was clueless and then obviously it took me a couple of years and after a couple of years I sort of learned how to do it and then I learned, look, always treat them with respect and if the person just says no, you say ”I’m very sorry, I hope you have a lovely night” and move on, you know what I mean. It’s as simple as that, always respectful, but have a crack.
Obviously, you don’t grab someone, but you say, look, I thought you were really beautiful and…
Well, you’ve got to be forthright, right? You got to be respectful and forthright and usually don’t go wrong, but that’s a good point, I guess, for anyone who’s come over to Australia and is meeting, wanting to meet Australian women or even Australian guys, they’re probably going to have to juggle with that kind of thing where the Australian women are probably not used to men just coming up to them and being incredibly blunt like I think I’ve heard of a few women saying ”Jeez Brazilian dudes are full on!” you know but vice versa. If you see a guy who sort of seems to like you, but is too seems to be too afraid to, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to ask you out or whatever, but he needs…
And I’m just learning now. This Brazilian friend of mine, she was just messaging me like 10 minutes ago asking ”oh, I’m with this dude and like, what’s going on? He’s not making a move”, I said ”just grab his shoulder and have a crack!”.
I think the physical contact is a big thing like you have to like break down those barriers and like, you know, joke around and touch them on the shoulder and then you see it sort of develop, but yeah it is pretty funny how kind of… you notice once you start learning about other cultures, you notice how different Australia is or Western culture. And yeah how not necessarily…. I don’t know if I’d say really prude, but I would say kind of naive quite often, right?
That’s why I feel like…. I don’t know, I mean I don’t want, I don’t want to complain, but I feel like, compared lot of cultures and I didn’t have a… I didn’t grow up in like a sexually active, sort of, whereas encouraged to go out and go out with your mates and with the girls and hook up with each other and I wish that’d be the case. And I’m very happy and it was funny because my girlfriend before she became my girlfriend actually helped me with the girls. So, it kind of made a funny story and then…but I always let her know, I said ”look, when I do meet you personally, I think I’m going to get you”, and she said ”’yeah, good luck!” and I was like….
That’s the cat and mouse thing, right? That’s the cat and mouse chase.
Yes, so, she lives in Brisbane so, that’s why she had time to sort of build up the defenses.
Man, these Brazilians that end up in Queensland, Kel, my wife, was in Townsville before moving down here. So, yeah, it’s funny how that happens. How did you learn Portuguese? Tell me that story.
So, I learnt French at school.
Oh, man you sound like me.
Yeah. I love it so, I learnt French at school, but I’ve gone off French. I did a French exchange and I went to, I had some good mates there, but I went to a bit of a snobby conference and I sort of lost the love of it a bit, you know what I mean I got over that having wines in turtlenecks and…
Was this in the North? Was this in the North?
Yeah, there was this… I was a bit, obviously, hindsight is great, but I wish I’d had a different experience in some way, it turned me off it, and obviously, I was loved language, I did love different cultures, and then I just started hanging out with the Brazilians and I thought ”alright, since we’re a big group and then no one really cares about speaking English, which is good for me, I’m going to learn the language!”.
So, I just, every day, I would just ask ”how to say, “I want”?”, I’d go, and I’d use what I learned in French, to have age, things like that and I just kept learning, and then I noticed that after about eight months one day it just clicked and suddenly… sorry, my screen’s mucking around here.
And then, I noticed after eight months I could understand what everyone’s saying and then it was just, it was always, it was ever a chore for me is always fun because Brazilians love their emotional posts and I was reading or learned how to read and write from them. And I love romantic music. It’s weird being an Aussie guy, but I was born a dramatic romantic bugger and I just listened to Sertanejo 24/7. Even one of the criteria, I told my girlfriend, was ”look, if you don’t like Sertanejo I don’t think it’s going to happen” and lucky she’s from the country and she loves it so, she deals with me, but that’s the only music I listen to.
Before I knew how to say, what, an apple, it was funny, took me two years because I never had a lesson. It took me two year to say, what an apple (is), say an apple, whereas I could talk politics, I could talk about the night out perfectly, but two years I didn’t know what an apple was because I never needed to learn.
I always seem to notice that with Kel, we are always talking in Portuguese at home, I pretty much, I’m just like in the house and I, to the detriment of her English, because she is always like ”all we ever do is speak Portuguese” and I’m like yeah because we’ve got a kid on the way and I’m trying to get as higher level as I can. Not having anyone else to talk to, but all we end up talking about is the same stuff. Do you want to get lunch? Do you want to clean the dishes? Do you want me to go out and buy this? And so it’s the same language all the time. So, how did you develop your language without going to Brazil? Like, at home, was it just through conversations and interactions or did you study?
It’s funny because a lot of people said ”I’d love to think highly of myself and say I was some amazing…”. Mate, I do, I know I have a knack for languages, however I’d love to like brag about it, but really you don’t need to go to Brazil to learn Portuguese, ’cause there are thousands of Brazilians here. They’re a very warm culture. So, honestly, I was living in Brazil here. You know what I mean? Because I was going to Brazilian parties, I was speaking, I was exposed to Portuguese 24/7 so, it was never, you know what I mean, it was never, I never went out of my way. Whereas like, at the moment, I’m trying to learn Spanish and I recently came back from a trip.
But for me it’s a effort. Because I’m not in the community. It’s an effort, it is a chore for me to maintain.
So, that’s what I was going to ask. So, for people listening to this podcast who are learning English and they’re living in their countries, you know Brazil, Indonesia, wherever it is, their home without that many, ,I mean there’ll be English speakers around, but they may not come into contact with them that often. What can they do in order to level up their English? What advice would you give someone asking you that?
The good thing about English is you have to it’s everywhere. So, honestly I’d be watching TV shows and subtitles, I’d be listening to the songs, just media, reading articles and honestly, the key to learning languages it should never be…”oh, I have to learn this language”, it’s not a chore. Learning a language is because you want to learn, you want to communicate. So, for me, it’s finding a interest. Mine was, honestly, romantic music and that’s what kept me going in Portuguese, whereas…and the parties and the fun, whereas if, I don’t know, if you like cars, I don’t know, whatever the interest, find that and I guarantee you that’s going to lead to English somehow.
So, how did you go finding…. Did you ever try and find resources for learning Portuguese? Because I found, after French, doing that at school and then studying that more recently a few years ago, there is a plethora of material despite it being only, you know, whatever it is a hundred million people in the world who speak French and yet Portuguese there’s what 270 million people across the world who speak it and I swear there is nothing, there is like a few tests books…
You’re right, French it’s got, well, was the world language a hundred and something years ago, it was, it’s very prestigious. Whereas Portuguese is only, Brazilian Portuguese is sort of hybrid in itself and only, you know, I obviously give Portuguese classes to gringos, to boyfriends and girlfriends, and yes, it’s a real struggle of material sometimes.
Yeah, so what do you suggest, if someone’s wanting to learn things like grammar and everything like that, if they’re find it hard to find the material, maybe they can’t afford them, is there other sort of ways to get around that or you would just say just dive in, don’t worry about grammar as much, practice it, you know?
The grammar comes with the interest, for me that was… I want to say ”the party was good” and asked ”how do I say was?” and you just go from that. Honestly, I wouldn’t…I really don’t, a lot of people ask me what material, but I think that deters us, it actually impedes learning. So, what I do is always find your interests and from there it extends. So, what I was doing was I was, before I, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist in some ways, I still make mistakes, I laugh at them, but I don’t like to make mistakes, because as my levels good enough now that I actually seem like an idiot when I make it, whereas it’s cute when you’re first learning
I’m still at that stage, I am still at that stage where I say, you know, I like ‘eu quero comer pau” and she’ll be like…. which, ‘pau’ in this case means, you know, a rude word for penis.
At that stage you’ve got to enjoy it, you can enjoy it, whereas for me now, since I am a quite high level with it, when I make a mistake everyone is like “geez, that was dumb” so I… so what I used to do was I always used to double check, because I have so many Brazilians (??) ”hey, mate, could you please double check this for me” before I post it, and just doing that repetitively, all the time, I just didn’t make mistakes…
It’s like a self…how would you say it, it’s kind of like cleaning. It’s a self-cleaning process, right? You’re constantly carving away the fat and getting better and better and better and Kel is always doing that with me. She’s always like ”can I say this?” to the point where I’m like ”Kel you know it’s going to be perfect, stop asking me” and it’s like… it’s really funny when I get frustrated with her because she’s, you know, too good and I forget the fact that it’s a second language, it’s almost like ”jeez, you should take that as a sign, don’t get angry at me for getting angry at you, but take it as a sign of, you know, I’m holding you to the same standard than any other English speaker is being held to”.
I agree with, so well, you’ve only been learning for how long?
Well I did it a few years ago maybe…. 2014 I started fiddling around with Duolingo because I was doing…
Exactly, it’s always a start.
I was doing jujitsu and just met, all of a sudden, never knew any Brazilian, start doing jujitsu in the city and every day you I’d bump into five or ten of ten, so I was just like ”ok…” and I’d been studying French for a year or so because I was like ”you know what? Screw this, I’m just going to finally get the fluency in this bloody language that I studied for six years at school” you know, and we’re just doing that on line again through speaking and a few other websites where you could have, you could kind of meet partners in trade time learning English and French and then just started learning it, but tried doing the Duolingo and like books and everything, but just got bored and then with Kel once I had a girlfriend that I was chatting to every day I would just be like just constantly be instigating, speaking in Portuguese with an almost getting annoyed if she switches to English, because she’ll often forget words, she’ll be like… you know, she’ll say a sentence and then just throw English words in there and I’ll be like ”don’t do that! Just think for a moment!”
I agree. I agree with you. What I noticed was I… I’ve noticed Brazilians are actually like, the analogy I use, the metaphor I use, is that they’re like vampires, in every vampire, you notice, once the guy discovers the vampire world, there are millions of them. You don’t think, you don’t know they’re there, but once you meet one, you meet a million Brazilians, it’s like a vampire. It’s like Blade.
You get sucked in, right?
Yeah, you’re sucked in and then suddenly they appear every restaurant, every function, every day you’re walking on the street there’s a Brazilian and it’s great. It’s a fantastic world to be involved in. You’re right, it’s just sort of focus on the learning as in just what you’ve got to do is you’ve got a lot of people seem to, and a lot of Brazilians have this, obviously we don’t, we have the luxury of English being the world language in that way so, we don’t have to worry about it.
I think it’s a gift and a curse, though, right? It’s a gift and a curse because if you want to learn another language, no matter which language you pick, there’s almost certain to be less resources or less movies or less music, right?
Oh, exactly, but in terms of we don’t feel the pressure of like ”I have to learn this” where, you know, it’s more of that pursuit of a bit of fun, whereas a lot of Brazilians have issues, they get worried about being judged and I think you, honestly, the way I learned Portuguese was taking the piss out of myself.
And I’m going to make that funny and yeah at the start I used that and girls loved it. How can I have fun making myself look like an idiot? What benefit? And I thought these people find me funny.
And what are other people going to say, right? If you’re making yourself look like an idiot, what else can others say?
Exactly, so you know if you’re taking the piss out of people will love that, whereas if you take yourself seriously and then make a stupid error, you look like an idiot.
So that’s what I always say…
How do you manage the relationship with regards to languages? If you’re both native speakers of different languages do you switch between them on different days? Do you just focus on one? Is one of you improving a lot more than the other one is at the moment in one area? How do you manage it?
To be honest, I’d love to… sort of, I know obviously as a language thing, I’d love to say that now we’re practicing 50 50, but what’s happening is that because I sort of speak Portuguese to the level of almost sort of native, people don’t even try to speak English with me. I don’t actually know, I know this is terrible, I’ve been seeing my girlfriend for seven months, but we’ve been official for one month, I’ve heard her speak English three times.
I don’t actually know matter what her level of English is. To be blatant honest, and I know that’s terrible, she said to me recently, she said ”maybe we should practice”, I said ”sure!”, I want to see, it would be very selfish of me not to say it, but it is like two Brazilians speaking, because we’re speaking so often, but I’m more than happy to help and a little help. I remember in the first one, I had a, not girlfriend, but close to when I was 19 like six years. She didn’t like it, on an off…
I can always edit it out!
She had a bit of an ego and she’s like ”oh I lived in America”, bla bla bla, but to be honest she used to make a lot of silly mistakes, and I used to make fun of her of course, ’cause, sorry, you know the Australia thing, if you’re going to think highly so, you got to walk the walk, you know what I mean?
Well, can you talk about that for a second? What’s the deal with Australians and ragging on each other, giving each other shit, why do we do that.? And how do you sort of avoid it or attract it? In that case, ‘cause this is something I always get asked about and it’s sometimes hard to answer.
I actually did research on it to wonder why it comes from that convict thing that everyone not liking people above us. But I obviously think, just like political correctness, goes a bit out of control and I notice like a lot of people especially, I remember, with my own thing, I went to that, I lived in that private school bubble and then when I came suddenly everyone thought It was funny when I started hanging out with Brazilians. But then they saw the good looking girls in the photos, suddenly started attacking me and I thought hold up and then people would be like ”oh, why don’t you speak English?” and I said sorry, I actually beat you in the 12 tests, but whatever, I remember for a while it’s amazing how people from having a laugh to ”oh, you’re a dickhead, you’re dumb, bla bla bla” and i think no no no, you’re just jealous. So, I think sometimes it is that, it’s a cultural thing that tall poppy syndrome. Sometimes it’s good, because I also think you’re a tool as well if you’re going to drive around a nice car just to show you can get one, I think you’re a tool. But sometimes, if someone’s doing well for themselves and happy about it and obviously not showing off in a stupid way, but if they’re genuinely happy and they’re living their life, I think who are you to attack that person, out of your own insecurity. So, I just say like, to be honest, I’ve developed pretty thick skin now so I just have a laugh and I go, ”sorry, look at you, you look a bit boring.
I think it’s one of those things too, right? Where, obviously, we were all convicts and on the same level like we’re all prisoners, we’re all slaves. And I think it would have been the case of anytime someone tries to step up and say ”I’m better than everyone else” everyone’s like wait a second… just remember, you’re one of us. Like pull them back down.
And from that we didn’t like authority or anything like that as simple as that.
Yeah. And one of my friends I remember going to jiu jitsu when I first started and they were always hanging shit on me and they were always teasing me and I was always like ”guys, what’s your issue?” I mean and that’s an ignorant question coming from me and they were like ”Dude, we wouldn’t tease you if we didn’t like you, we wouldn’t even talk to you!”. So, I was always saying that to some of my friends, I mean, you can tell when people are doing it in from a good-hearted kind of place vs a really nasty kind place.
Now, I’ve got both sides of it so, I can tell, I’ve also, ’cause like some people have a laugh about and I think it’s funny as well. I was the goon-drinking, you know, rugby/footy guy. Suddenly I’m going they’re speaking Portuguese and singing and dancing, but with some people, I could see, like, when they had the girls from the photos, suddenly, “oh! Why you speak English?!”, or girl friends of friends I’d gone to school were attacking me. I was like please! Get out of it. People didn’t like that I was doing well for myself, if you get what I mean.
I think they always get scared of that, right? It’s almost that’s the dark side of the tall poppy syndrome, it’s not even necessarily that you’re flaunting it, but if they see that you’re doing well in society or in life, quite often the first instant reaction is ”how do I bring them back down?” as opposed to ”how do I bring myself up?”
Exactly, I think it’s got a, I agree, it’s got its good side and it’s got a terrible side as well, which is reflected in Australian culture, but to be honest I think it would be a lot less if we didn’t have it.
So, what do you think about Australian culture and language learning in general? When you went through school and everything, what was your experience like with that? Was there a lot of people learning foreign languages? Was it a nerdy thing to do or a cool thing to do and what languages where they learning? Because I get that question ”do Australians just learn, you know, Indonesian?”, because it’s right there.
To be honest, I was actually caught in that like last, ’cause I finished school what, eight years ago now, I was actually caught in that last generation of the classical French and German. And to be honest they’ve lost their real relevance for us, you know, 50 years ago it was quite important. What’s happened now, so my sister has just finished school, Spanish, Chinese I think are a lot more useful now that’s become trendy, you know, Despacito, before learning Spanish and trying to be bloody Don Juan or you are going to put on a white shirt and play the guitar. You know, there’s a bit of it. And French was like ”oh, your fancy bugger!” and to be honest, I was always a down to earth fun kind of guy, but I remember I did high level French university and it was a snobbish, posh thing to do. I was the only guy who didn’t up with a scarf and a beret every morning, talking about how I did Law/Arts.
And to be honest, that deterred me, I quit after two years, because that’s what language is about, it’s not being snobbish, it’s living a language, communicating. You know, I didn’t…so, I quit French for that reason. I didn’t feel comfortable in that sort of environment, but I think that it’s very weak and a lot of people come up with these excuses ” oh, learning a language is so hard!”, but we live in a place where there are a lot of foreigners and if you go out of your way, it’s very easy, it’s just like learning a puzzle, learn the skills, it’s just practice, but because people don’t have practiced they’re all ”oh, it’s so hard!”, but it’s not really and I think now there’s a, back in when I was at school, it wasn’t… it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t like the most popular thing, but one of the other big rugby hotshots also learned French with me so, that they gave it a bit a status.
There’s two of them! There’s two of them now, we can’t bully them!
Do you know what I mean? So, again, you know, we did exchange together and everything. His mum was a language teacher, but I think now it’s changed, suddenly it’s trending now to be learning Chinese. I think people finally clicked and got ‘hold up, it’s actually pretty useful. Pretty cool thing to do”.
Yeah, exactly. I always find it… sorry?
I reckon it’s definitely in the last five years, at least, change a lot, it’s suddenly a lot cooler and suddenly a useful, interesting thing and a lot of people still go ”oh, I live in my own world”, but I realise that, even if you hang out in other cultures, if you don’t speak other the language, you’re very restricted because it’s more the cultural understanding. It’s very easy to say ”oh, I understand these people, we have dinner at such a time, whatever”, but when you sit… speak, you know what I mean? ”oh no, in China they do this, I understand” no, you don’t, whereas when you speak a language you feel, is different grammar, a different way of viewing things. Everything is different and you see another world in the way, your own culture changes.
So, did you have those moments with Brazilian Portuguese? Did that happen while you were in Australia learning the language or did it happen, if it did happen, when you were in Brazil and you were like ”oh my Gosh, we do this?”?
No, it was already happening because I remember I…because I was yeah, I was like a bit of, to be honest grew up and that sort of GPS jock, rugby world and I started, I just realised, like I was a terrible offender, I was getting smashed to passing out, I thought that was cool, because in our culture it’s lionised and yeah, I was one of the worst. I was a hero. You know what I mean? And then I started hang out with Brazilians and I did that they all looked at me going ”what are you doing?” and then I realized like why actually… You know, and I know it sounds obvious to say it’s not cool, but when that’s what you’ve done for years, it is cool.
Well, when you’re in that group, right? When you’ve got that group of people who are all sort of giving you a pat on the back for doing X,Y, Z of course you’re going to do it, but then as soon as you step out and you’re like ”wait, the rest of the world doesn’t do this?”
Yeah, and then I started to hang out with Brazilians and I realised ”wow, it’s so easy to have fun with the guitar, a good bunch of people”… and (??) I don’t want to rag on my mates, but I saw a lot of my friends and I was like. You don’t even compliment each other, talk to each other and then suddenly you’re talking about drugs, whereas Brazilians you just get a bunch of Brazilians in a room, everyone is playing guitar, everyone’s happy, laughing. At about midnight, everyone starts it kissing each other and dancing. That is fantastic! And no one’s getting smashed. No one’s passing out vomiting, no one is fighting. I got my Aussie mates sometimes and there’s no vibe and people, not all of them, as I said, but people are just dead and ”(?) so, what are we getting on tonight?” and I just think, wow, how was your week? Like, how are you? What have you been doing? No one’s got any stories. Obviously, this is years of a bit of a mix of frustration, different sort of views. This has just been years of analysing and I look at people and I’m just like “Geez, man, how can you walk around so smashed and think that’s cool?”.
Everyone needs to be learning Portuguese or Spanish, right? They just need to get a dose of that.
After twenty or so years of getting smashed, you know, I can’t erase my whole… you know, it’s always going to be with that like unable to control the drinks sometimes, but I know now and not just drinking, it’s just different ways of enjoying ourselves and different ways of viewing things and personal space.
What was that like, personal space wise? ‘Cause I always have that thing of, when I go to Melbourne and… it’s probably going to come off bad, but I feel like Chinese people don’t have the same appreciation for personal space and I can imagine it’s because they come from big cities, where there are loads of people and they’re just, they don’t have a problem with bumping into people, whereas I have this sort of anal retentive attitude, if see people near me, I make a concerted effort to avoid ever touching them or, you know, you get around them and stuff. Were there any things like that?
Some cultures just stroll along the street, Spanish included, that was shocking and it’s like ”can you walk a bit faster, please, or go to the left?”
We’re going on a mission. I’m going home. Get out of my way!
Yeah, I was like… Are you serious? How can you take up….? But, anyway, that’s another story. I what I noticed was I was… I think maybe because my mum comes from an European immigrant family, she was born in the country, my dad’s not from Sydney, that I was but probably a bit warmer than the average Sydneysider. And I was, came from big, sort of hugging family and my mum was one of 12 and I think that sort of…
Yeah, big country. There was no TV, that’s the joke and I want what I noticed was I was always felt a bit ill. People always said at school I was a bit different, but then I started hang out with Brazilians I just clicked because I knew that was me. Hugging… I love, I don’t, you know, I always love to give people a hug or pat on the back and I noticed that when I went back to uni, for example, I remember just finishing him so clearly, I was taught in school. On graduation day. And for me I was in an appropriate distance talking to her, but she was backing away. I was like ”hold up…geez, how can you…?” and I’m not going to lie, my first thought was ”how can you be so cold? Like, it’s graduation day, give me a hug!”.I would have been like a good 30 centimetres just talking and she was backing and I thought…”hold up, what’s going on with me?”
It must be so weird having to juggle those two things, it’s almost like being pulled out of the Matrix, right? You’ve certainly got to be like how do I tackle with these different cultural things and have to worry about juggling this in my brain every time I meet someone from Australia vs. Brazil.
I noticed that. I remember one time at uni as well, nearly started a fight, I met these Chinese people and at the end I tried to give one of the girls a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye and she flipped out and her boyfriend came and I was like…”err, we’ve just been talking for two hours, I gave you a goodbye kiss on the cheek”. You going see even Australia that’s not you know like you made good friendship with you. And then it was all what I said and I went well sometimes but now I’m I think I’m sharp enough to pick up on it but I still get a bit lazy I just slightly but I’m naturally a solar colour warm kind of guy I don’t like. And I don’t like it when people take too long to become friendly I think life’s too short, I don’t want to be 50 by the time I can be friends with you.
Man, I have a short story for you with regards to that. Kel and I were out walking around this lake and we kept seeing the same bloke, he’s an Australian bloke who’d been to Brazil and so, we would chat to him every time we’d see him every few days there and I remember after like the third time he’d seen us and he was like, his house was right there, so he’d always be like ”G’day!” or he talked to us over his fence, and I remember Kel getting home being like ”why hasn’t this guy asked us over for lunch yet? In Brazil, we’d be practically living at his house, having like food with him every day! We see him all the time and he doesn’t invite us in!” and I was like, what are you talking about?
Yeah, no, it is, It is. I agree with you, I mean, to be honest now… obviously there’s two sides of it, a lot of people say, well, what I noticed was Melbourne people are a lot more friendly, a lot frendlier than Sydney people.
See, I don’t have that experience, yet, that deep experience, I know a lot of Melbornians, I’ve met some Sydneyans , but I don’t know… Have you noticed that when you’ve come down here or is that just meeting them?
I’ve only spend a couple of weeks in Melbourne here and there but I spend a week there last year. I was amazed…I don’t want to be… but in Sydney it’s a very cliquey, you stick up with your mates, you stick with the mates you grew up in or sport, like that’s it. You go to uni, I was a antisocial, I hardly made any friends and I did arts, whereas I went to Melbourne for a week and I just went to the restaurant was talking to the waitresses and the waiters and suddenly we’re all exchanging numbers and hanging out, I was like ”what?” and this was the whole week in Melbourne. Everyone was just so down to Earth, so easy to make… and I thought ”hold up…” and apparently it’s more so in Brisbane, but I just couldn’t believe it whereas Sydney they just look at you like ”hummm” and I struggle with Brazilians at the start, like showing emotion. I don’t want to speak badly, because, I remember ini Sydney, the world I grew up in, if you show too much emotion or you’re too keen to meet someone, everyone thinks there is something wrong with you.
This guy is a weirdo!
Yeah! Everyone is like ”what’s wrong with… this guy’s, like, obviously got no friends or whatever” and then I would like a couldn’t imagine my life now, when hang out with some of my mates from back then, I can’t imagine I’m like ”How can you be so cold?. I know you, I have known you for 10 years? How can you not give me a hug when you see me?’, you know what I mean? like, I just look at them like ”wow! can’t you be excited to have a friend?!” people out there, a lot of people don’t have friends and I just, I don’t know, I personally get…but at the same time I don’t like, sort of, am I allowed to? I don’t like bullshit friendships. “Hey man!” when you don’t care. It can be like this, I know I’m not your friend, but you can listen ‘hey how you going?”.
You can see it in their eyes, right? You can see when they giving you the BS they’re looking through you and you’re just like ”you’re not…’.
No please, just be genuine, you don’t have to be my good mate, you can say ”hey, how are you going?” I don’t want that. And that happens a lot with Brazilians, but most the time they’re great and sometimes they’ll make, they’ll try a lot of it…. and sometimes a lot of Brazilians say that it’s just in Brazilian culture that they’re be like sly, well, it’s in every culture, but Aussies are just a bit better at hiding it, I think. Whereas a lot of Brazilians will talk to me and be like ”hey bro, how are you going?” and I think ”here we go…”. It’s cause I haven’t spoken to them in six months, and I know…, and then, suddenly, without a please or thank you I’d get a ”can you correct this for me?”. And, I’m thinking “I am sorry” and I used to help because I feel bad, I was an honest guy, but now, I just sort of, *click*, ignore. If you said please or sorry to disturb you, sure! So I’m very serious. I can’t get rid of that Aussie side, if you’re like… if you don’t say please and thank you with me you’re getting nothing.
I know, it’s a bit like that at times that I’ve had that with some mates from high school where there’s ones you kept up with, I’ve been out of high school now 12 years, there’s ones you keep up with and you chat to all the time and there’s others that are like ”hey man how’s it going? Can you do this for me?” and you’re like ”dude! I haven’t spoken to you in three years! Could you at least like, you know, say ‘G’day’ before you start asking for favours?”.
And I know you want something, but just a bit of courtesy. I mean, I personally, it’s weird. As much as I did go to Rugby School where it’s sort of like you had to pay each other out. I still get offended. I still that kicks through the thick skin that sort of stuff. And when Brazilians did to me, I get even madder. It’s like ”don’t you even try.”.
I think it’s just Australians. well, most people don’t like BS, right? There’s sort of an…and I think is the good thing about Australians is at least for most of them they’re not afraid to call it out. So, there’s I think there’s a lot of cultures out there where you can get away with being kind of cold or doing things and it’s kind of like culturally inappropriate to address someone who’s done that.
I noticed, I noticed that in… a lot of… I found it weird because I remember there’s this couple, this happens you know every now and then, with every couple , but a few times some Brazilians have been a bit lazy or they’ve like sent a message and not respond and I’ll be like ”why didn’t you respond to my message?” and I think you didn’t respond and I call and I said ”look, that’s rubbish! Shut up” and the person goes ”oh, oh oh, how dare you?!” and I’m like ”mate, you’re in the wrong” and they act as if I’m in the wrong for getting angry. And I think no no no, it doesn’t work like that and they all like, they did the dramatic ”oh, man, you didn’t need to get so angry”, I think…”how dare you?!”.
Don’t play the victim with me! You’ll have to pull out your glove and slap him in the face and challenge them to a duel or something.
So, I’m pretty like….even my girlfriend says I’m pretty stubborn, if someone slides me, If I don’t get an apology, then I’m like (??) and I remember it every time, even after 10 drinks, I’ll remember your face. Don’t you dare.
That’s it, it’s like sorry for having standards, you know?
Exactly. So, that’s why, I’ve learnt now, but as she’s taught me, she’s like you’ve got to stop worrying about stupid stuff. If someone annoys you, just bugger off instead of giving them a hug.
Let it go.
Yeah, and that’s something I’m learning, but I love it, I mean, I just, most the time it’s a real, I have an absolute ball.
Man, so Ozueiros, before we finish up, Ozueiros Gringos, how did that begin and tell me about it, what’s the goal?
Ok, so, Simon was at the end of 2017. Simon was at my house. One thing I like personally is a bit of a drive sometimes, creative, spontaneous. Simon hade the drive. He said ”why don’t we do videos?” and I obviously, to use the words he said and at first I was a bit reluctant, he said, ”Come on, Hugo! Don’t be a pussy!” and I was… that tipped me over the edge. And, I went, “Alright, you bastard!” Like, if you’re going to go there. And then we were a real success for about six months. And then what happened was, obvious, I went overseas, Simon got into uni and so, we’d been chatting recently and he said look I need a break and I said that’s fair enough so, we’re just sort of working out what we’re going to do from now on. Obviously, the aim was just to educate, have a lot of fun take the piss. Just English learning, Aussie culture with a had a good sense of humour. Because you see a lot of these boring, old dudes on YouTube and geez, shoot me in the head now, whereas you were trying to be like younger, fun, and we were quite successful so, we’re just sort of planning the next steps and yeah obviously it’s been a ball, Simon and I still in contact all the time, and yeah we’ll just see what happens. Obviously, the next video was… I wanted… I don’t know, I hope Simon is involved with me, but I want to do one on Vegemite. Brazilians take the piss and I say ”Bugger off, sorry. Better than your cheese bread”.
How would you compare it to cheese bread? Could you have it with cheese bread?
Could you have it with cheese bread?
I did and it tasted nice. Whereas cheese bread and sorry, it’s the most overrated thing in the world.
Don’t say that to my wife!
Oh, is she from Minas?
No, she’s from Maranhão.
Oh wow, North.
Yeah, São Luís.
Bet she has a funny accent.
Well, I have got it as well apparently, but yeah doing all the “falar” and that sort of stuff.
So, the plan is obviously we’re going to, 2019 now, I’ve got some big ideas, hopefully Simon is on board. But yeah, we really killer that last year, we had and absolute ball, yeah we were living it, we got on SBS Radio, we were the talk of the town and it was just so much fun educating, you know, we were in there for good purposes, to educate, to have a bit of fun and we became best mates through it and he… Simon was coming over like twice a week. You know, we’re always dancing fun videos, grabbing my chickens.
I saw that, so you guys are sitting there in front of the camera with like dogs on here on your laps or chickens I was like ‘what the hell are these guys doing holding chickens?” I’m like…
Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun, I’m keen to sort of replicate that this year. So, yeah what about you… I was about to call you Kel, sorry, what are you… that’s the name you’ve been saying.
That’s it. That’s it.
What are your plans with your Portuguse?
Man, I want to get to a better level, but I think I just need to talk more, more, more. And again it’s one of those things where I get stuck in the same rut so, I talk about the same stuff all the time with Kel, I have no issues with that, but it’s, it’s one of those things of getting out of your comfort zone so, that’s always what I’m telling my listeners it’s just here finding ways to expand and the hardest thing for me, I think, with languages in particular is that initially it’s freaking hard and then you get really good, you kind of get competent at something and you’re like ”Yes, this feels good!” and you just want to stick there because it’s like suddenly I’m good at this and you forget ”ok, I have to keep expanding, keep growing”, right? Like with jiu jitsu, I remember being a beginner and you’re this white belt who everyone smashes because you have to fight people every day and then after a few months you start submitting other people and dominating a little bit. You know, there’s suddenly a crowd below you and you’ll be like ”I’ll just fight the white belts., na na na na na” all the other guys ”I’ll just fight the white belts, thanks, man, next time, man, next time” and then you’re like ”I can’t do that…” You’ve got to remember….
It doesn’t work like that.
Exactly, you don’t level up.
And do you…. are you…are you into the Brazilian music?
Not as much. I need to get into it, I just haven’t been listening to music.
Have you tried Sertanejo before or it’s just me?
I know of it, like Kel plays stuff all the time, but she kind of goes through just everything, but who is she…
I’m full on, like, absolutely, it’s got to be romantic country music and that’s just my, it’s the most popular style in Brazil, I won’t go on about it, obviously, I’m not here to…
The music is really good, I find it really interesting and there’s like a few of these artists, one of my one of my friend’s husband is a producer for some Brazilian artist, I forgot what his name is, is it Luan or whatever it is. There is a big guy over there and they always show me photos and play music and I’m just like yeah cool like I don’t know.
But, yeah man, Pete, it’s been a… You got Instagram or Facebook and anything that?
I’ve got it, man, who’s doing this interview? You should be the one that is showing me all the stuff. So, where can people find out more about you, dude? If they’re Brazilians and they’re wanting to learn more English, where can they find out more?
Ozueiros Gringos, on Facebook, or Hugo Groom, Instagram, Simon Gurney. So, we’ve got two separate Instagram, personal Instagrams and Ozueiros Gringos our Facebooks, also our personal Facebooks also have videos, but Ozueiros Gringos main page, we’re about to put some light back into it, rekindle it.
And then our personal Instagrams with tips, a lot of zuera (joking around), we love joking around, dancing videos, especially on mine, I’ve got a lot of me, obviously I’ve got a girlfriend now so, I’m not doing sensual dancing anymore, but I’m cooking, you know, you know what I mean, I’m becoming like a home guy.
I love that aspect of it, I think that’s what my listeners, is even if you guys, well, you guys are probably be… find it a little harder if you don’t speak any Portuguese, you probably need a little bit to follow the videos, but for any of the Brazilian listeners, if you want to see, you know, just an Australian and learn about their life and everything in their day to day life with blogs and stuff. definitely check out Hugo and Simon’s channel. Are you going to get on YouTube and do some videos on there as well?
Yeah, we put a few on YouTube, I’ve got a couple myself from back in the day, one that went viral and initially got me started was Brazilian speaking English, it’s in Portuguese, Brasileiro falando Inglês no Supermercado, Brazilians speaking English at the supermarket.
That’s where I saw you the first time! I think…
That one, yeah, it was like 5 years ago, it was meant to be a piss-take for… I just did it with my brother, we were just at Coles.
That didn’t even click, that didn’t even click until just now and then I’m like I remember the Australian dudes speaking Portuguese in the supermarket, walking around.
And then suddenly that one just exploded overnight and became a semi-celebrity and on Facebook, this Brazilian bloody company stole my video actually.
But it got 100,000 hits. Well, they didn’t reference me properly.
They just copy pasted it, did they?
And I was like ”are you serious?”. They’ve got a hundred thousand hits on Facebook, on YouTube it’s got like 50 thousand so, I was like wow, that what ticked me off, so I’m keen to get back to it because I definitely see potential. But obviously, as you’d know, running a blog, running anything is a lot of work and so getting into it and I’m know I’m really excited for this year, this big year, so now obviously focus is different, I’m not a single guy anymore, but I’d focus on cooking videos, language, you know what I mean, obviously girlfriend will be watching closely, but I’m excited yeah…
Awesome! Thanks so much for joining me today.
Thank you, Pete! The pleasure was all mine. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much!