Hello Hendrik, what made you leave Estonia?
It was in 2000 when I became a foreign exchange student at the University of Minnesota in the US. And during my studies there I met my future wife Luciana, who is Brazilian.
Where are you based and how long have you been there?
We moved to Brazil in December of 2000 and since 2007 I live in Uberlândia. It’s the 2nd largest city in Minas Gerais state, and is also known as the capital of logistics in Brazil.
What made you to choose Brazil?
My wife is Brazilian and she really hates cold weather, so she made me to move here!
What is it like to live in Uberlândia?
Brazil is a big country and distances between the cities are huge. Uberlândia is about 580 km away from São Paulo, connected by double lane highway, but by car it takes around 8 hours to get there. Travel by air is the best solution, but you need to be ready for queues and delays. World Cup will be a big challenge.
The climate in Uberlândia is good, annual average temperature is around 23° C, so air conditioner is a “must have”. The best part of the day is after 5PM – there are many bars and restaurants where you can go for Happy Hour and enjoy Brazilian music with an ice cold beer!
Was it easy to integrate in your current environment?
Yes, it was – because Brazilians are very helpful and cheerful people.
Of course, the hardest part was the language. Brazil is the only Portuguese speaking country in Latin America. Even going to the grocery store was a whole new experience. You have to start from zero and rebuild everything, having to relearn how to live and carry out every day activities. After breaking this barrier, there’s nothing you can do…My everyday language is Portuguese now.
How do you make your living and what has been your best work experience so far?
I’m an accounting officer for a Brazilian steakhouse company located in the USA, and I also own a consulting and trading company. I think that the best experience is still ahead, because Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and one has many new opportunities here.
What motivates you in life?
My family and friends. The desire to achieve my ambitions in life.
Have you had any setbacks and how do you cope?
It’s always hard to move to a completely different environment. Sometimes I think that I could have achieved my goals easier, if I had stayed back at home or in the United States. But you need to be patient, especially here – and in the end it all works out.
What’s your recipe for success and advice for others?
Live every day as if it were going to be your last, and work or do things in a manner as if the entire world were watching you.
Do you still have a connection with Estonia?
Yes, my mom lives there and two months ago we (my wife and son) visited the country. We both like Estonia and do consider purchasing a holiday home in Pärnu in future.
Is there anything special you miss about Estonia?
Family… You cannot be in two places at once, and life back home goes on. There are so many things I’m missing out: holidays, birthdays, weddings… People have grown up and so much has changed…
Your future plans?
I’m not spending much time for planning ahead. But I do have dreams and at the same time I have already followed my main ones.