When Everything You Think You Know About A Country Is Wrong [The Culture Guy Podcast]

Inês Nascimento shares her experience of being a serial expat

She had always been curious about “the world out there” and so Inês Vieira Nascimento started working for international companies, supporting business functions and employees navigating the challenges of international transition. Then she became a serial expat.

As an HR manager, Inês began her career in global mobility roles in Portugal. When she decided to experience life outside of Portugal she set off with very clear intentions: to experience life in two widely contrasting cultures. First Inês moved to Tennessee where she and her husband stayed for four years. After that they went on to Tianjin, China, for another two years.

During our conversation Inês shares her experiences of life abroad and how she was confronted with the disconnect between expectations and reality on her first assignment, which took her to the United States: “Everything I thought I knew about the U.S. was wrong, or at least, it did not apply to my new environment in Chattanooga.”

Melting Pot or Salad Bowl?

For example, the idea of the U.S. being a melting pot of cultures turned out to be a somewhat inaccurate narrative. Inês quickly realized that despite a common denominator of mainstream culture there are several distinct subcultures which are better described as a salad bowl or a mosaic.

She also takes a minute to explain the differences between the Portuguese language spoken in Portugal and in Brazil. According to Inês Brazilians speak Portuguese with sugar sprinkled on top. Or, if you prefer a musical metaphor: Portuguese in Portugal sounds like Fado, while it’s more like Bossa Nova in Brazil.

Her mission for her international assignments was to get into the “real soul” of each country. No “expat bubble” for her or the family! She was able to keep working in the field and now, back to her home country, she continues to work in HR and Global Mobility. Inês not only understands what it feels like to be an expatriate – she also understands the challenges of managing expats.
However, upon her return to Portugal she first felt like a stranger in her own country. Lisbon had changed during the years she was gone – and so did she. An experience many returnees (or repats) go through as they re-adjust to life in their native culture after a longer absence.

Connect with Inês via her LinkedIn profile and follow her on Twitter. Also check out her work here and on her website.

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The music on this episode is provided courtesy of Sepalot.
“Duum Diip” – Artist: Sepalot – Label: Eskapaden – Copyright control
“Rainbows – Live” – Artist: Sepalot – Label: Eskapaden – Copyright control

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