A Brazilian’s View of New Haven

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Rio de Janeiro

Note: The following appeared on the /r/newhaven subreddit. It was posted by a Brazilian from São Paulo (pop: 12.18 million) and reprinted with their permission. The author is a postgraduate associate at the Yale School of Medicine who arrived in New Haven June 2018. They prefer to remain anonymous.

I’ve come from Brazil to work as a researcher at one of the YSM labs, and I (for the most part) enjoy living here and think there are some very unique things about New Haven (good and bad), so I thought I’d share them.

For disclosure, I live downtown.

What I love:

The food. My God the food is awesome, I have never been to a small/medium town with so much density of diverse and high-quality dining options as New Haven. I love apizza, I love the ramen, I love the Indian and middle-eastern options, the food carts on Cedar alone deserve a thread of their own. I used to very rarely eat out in Brazil and now I do it at least two or three times a week because I want to experience everything.

Kimchi Ramen Paris
The only thing better than ramen is ramen doused in chili oil.

Walking around. New Haven is very flat and condensed so it’s super easy to go places by foot. I find walking very calming and obviously, it’s good for your health so I’m glad I can do it so much here.

The beer. I also care a lot about good-quality beer and New Haven has a very good selection from CT and New England in general options.

The scenery. This is mostly due to Yale, but I love the mesh of old English architecture with American architecture and the level of arborization on the streets. It makes the city look clean and fresh.

Yale at Dusk

What I like:

Insomnia Cookies. It’s good, it’s open until 3 AM. Nothing to complain.

Early Fall and early Spring. The like two or three weeks where trees are a variety of color before the leaves/flowers fall off are very inspirational and awesome. I would love it if it lasted longer, but oh well.

The hiking options. I didn’t hike a lot in Brazil so I’m very excited to explore this new hobby.

East Rock Park

What I dislike:

Unfriendliness. People seem very cold when you don’t know them. This might be an East Coast thing but it feels like most people have an aura of “don’t acknowledge me” which I find kinda off-putting coming from Brazil.

Aggressive panhandling. The panhandlers that follow you around and are threatening/annoying. I don’t mind panhandlers, we have a lot of them in São Paulo.

But New Haven seems to take that to another level where people will yell at you or keep aggressively asking for money if you don’t give it to them. I only carry my credit card as I hate using cash but they don’t listen.

Grocery shopping. The lack of a variety of grocery stores. That one is self-explanatory.

Abandoned Parking Lot
What, you don’t like the Whalley Ave Stop and Shop?

What I hate:

The weather. Winter and Summer, in particular, were miserable to me. Leaving home when it’s still dark and leaving at 5 PM and it’s dark already killed my motivation. Going out when the air is so damp you feel like you are swimming makes me want to stay home.

(Editor’s Note: Congratulations, complaining about the weather makes you an honorary New Englander! You will be issued a Dunkin Donuts card and sunglasses to avoid contact with strangers.)

The drivers. I walk around so I get to experience a lot of that, drivers here pull out of driveways without looking for oncoming pedestrians, blocking you for 10+ seconds while they try to pull out fully, or sometimes almost running you over. They stop in the middle of crossings (especially bad near the air-rights garage) and then get angry at you for trying to go around them. They take forever to parallel park.

Shorter nightlife. Everything downtown closes between 1-2 AM, which I think it’s way too early as the bars start getting hyped only after 9 PM. Also, you can’t buy alcohol after 10:30 PM in liquor stores which is kind of a bummer.

Bar New Haven
This is pre-smell.

And that’s about it.

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My weirdest experience in New Haven was when I was on my phone outside of Walgreens on a Saturday afternoon and a guy on a scooter tried intimidating me/mugging me by saying that he could take my phone right now but he would let it slide if I gave him cash. I couldn’t take him seriously because of the scooter and just walked off into Walgreens and let them know. Never saw him again.

I understand that most of these problems are inherent to CT, the Northeast or to the US in general, but they are things I have experienced in New Haven so I thought I might as well include them.

Anyway, thanks for reading 🙂

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