Tuesday, November 22, 2011


One thing is for sure, living in a country outside the United States (or those from other countries living in the U.S.) can be tricky when it comes to the cost of goods, measurements, telling the time, or even the outside temperature. Telling time is rather simple, because all you need to do is subtract 12 from any number greater than 12, but when it comes to converting money, measurements, and temperature, matters become a bit more diluted. Dating back to the British rule over the American Colonies, we have used our own system based on the standard unit of measurements which includes inches, feet, yards, pounds, Fahrenheit, and etc. But as time rolls on, I wonder why we are still using this system when our military and many other professionals use a system in line with the rest of the world. So some simple math is needed to get by outside the friendly borders of the United States.

Conversation on the way to lunch or on the weekends often contains talk about the weather. It is also helpful when determining what temperature my hotel room needs to be. I've decided that a perfect temperature of 20 degrees is fitting for my hotel room. Everyone in Ohio immediately said 20 degrees? But according to the Celsius scale, that is just about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Going back to my 8th grade science class, I had to remember the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion using the simple formula of  [°C] = ([°F] − 32) × 59. When discussing the weather of my home state of Ohio, I had to learn quickly how to convert on the fly and discuss our ranging Fahrenheit temperatures from -5 degrees in the winter to 105 degrees in the summer. This equates in a range of -21 to 41 degrees Celsius. I often misquoted numbers in my early weeks resulting in expressions from my new friends that I could tell the numbers were a bit extreme. You can click here to see a full conversion chart.

Distance and Weight measurements have not come into play much aside from driving to cities outside of Sao Paulo to visit manufacturing facilities. Or while in the airplane watching how many kilometers remained until our destinations. In terms of weight measurements, I've always known that 1 kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds (2.205 to be exact) but distance has been another matter.Also, when discussing the interior size of the high rise residential apartments that are being constructed around Sao Paulo (which Tecno Logys has a big hand in), all units are based in square meters rather than square feet like I am used to. Some places are going for over $10,000 per square meter so in an effort to figure out how big many of these 100 square meter apartments are, I needed to use the conversion. I now know that there are 10.7 square feet per square meter so these 100 square meter units are approximately 1,075 square feet, equivalent to a small ranch style home in the U.S.

US Dollars, Brazilian Reais, and Argentinan Pesos
Perhaps the most useful conversion and most common experienced by those travelling internationally, is the currency conversion. In my previous travelling experiences it was either 1:1 (Canada) or almost 1:2 (Euro) which was never anything exciting. But now with the Brazilian Real conversion almost (2:1) and the Argentinian Peso (4:1) the conversion rate is on my side. The higher costs in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro off set any gains made in the exchange rate. However in Buenos Aires, things were much cheaper. In Argentina they actually preferred U.S dollars to be used for payments, perhaps because the currency is more stable, or perhaps they gain an extra 5% (Banks give a 4.25:1 rate) on the dollar using a 4:1 rate when they exchange it. One thing is certain, when I get back to the United States, I will inevitably spend more money after getting use to seeing prices stated 2-4 times higher in these foreign currencies.  

Its not rocket science, but its something that you must consider when you travel or live abroad.

No comments:

Post a Comment