HOME: Concrete jungle

São Paulo is the Brazilian New York, a city that never sleeps (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

Sofia Paura is a third-year journalism and communications student from São Paulo, Brazil. She enjoys travelling, reading and acting. 

I have mixed feelings when I hear the word “home.”

As cheesy as it is, home is wherever my family is. I’m originally from São Paulo, Brazil but when I was 14, I moved to Recife, Brazil after my dad transferred for work. Last December, we moved from Recife to Florida, United States. But no matter where we move, São Paulo will always be my home.

I’ve always liked big cities. I like the adrenaline of walking in a busy street, the chance to see people from all corners of the planet and hearing different accents.

São Paulo is like the Brazilian New York. It’s a city that never sleeps. The lights are on all night and the tall buildings tower the city. The city doesn’t give you time to think because everyone’s always in a rush. We make almost every decision in a split second.

It’s our own concrete jungle and I love it.

São Paulo has infinite choices of restaurants, bars, clubs and entertainment. No other place in Brazil has that many options.

The city is a place where you need to prepare to face all four seasons in one day.

If you go north, you can see the mountains and relax in nature. This is where I’m from. It always had, and will always have, a special place in my heart.

The east side of the city has one of the most famous neighbourhoods called Mooca. This is where a lot of Italian descendants live and run their businesses and restaurants. For me, this was synonymous with good times with my family. I am an Italian descendant, and even though I have never lived in the east, my family and I would go to restaurants every chance we had.

The biggest part of the city is the west. It’s known by its size and the number of university campuses. A few of my cousins live there, so I would visit almost every weekend. 

The south is where the biggest variety of shopping centres and executive buildings are. This is the expensive part of the city, so I usually didn’t visit.

The centre of the city is what makes São Paulo unique. It has the famous Avenida Paulista or Paulista Ave. This avenue is one of the biggest and busiest in Brazil. You can find stores, companies, museums and art throughout the street. 

One of the most famous places in Avenida Paulista is a huge bookstore called Livraria Cultura, where you can find a dinosaur statue hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. I would go to the bookstore when international authors would visit Brazil. When I was in the eighth grade, I skipped class so I could see American author Kiera Cass, who wrote The Selection Series.

The city centre is also home to Liberdade where immigrants and descendants of Japanese, Chinese, Korean immigrants live. It’s where you can see a little bit more of the Asian culture, try the best sushi and Asian food and shop for products brought straight from Japan.

One of my uncles comes from Japanese heritage. He and my aunt would take my brothers and me to Liberdade just so we could eat the best food ever and buy furikake, a Japanese seasoning mix. We would later go to their house to eat rice with furikake.  

São Paulo is unique. It’s home because it’s tied to my heart. It’s where I grew up, where my earliest memories are from. I haven’t visited São Paulo in more than a year, but I feel like it doesn’t matter how much time I spend away. This city will always bring me the same warm, sensation of home. 

HOME is a bi-weekly column where people from different countries can express what home means to them. If you would like to write for this column, please send an email to eic@theaq.net