A New Life in Brasil November 01, 2018

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/01/2018 to 06/07/2018 with

CET Brazil

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The experience was absolutely worthwhile and learning from a different culture absolutely has transformed my opinions on certain perspectives.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I personally really enjoyed the courses I took during my time in Sao Paulo; however, the academic rigor was not that strong in my experience. This does change depending on an individual basis as some students will have different course requirements depending on their university. For example, although I was in the Advanced Portuguese class, I only took one direct enroll course -- which was also the most difficult -- while some other students took more providing a much greater academic rigor.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Sergio, Sulia, and Ariane were absolutely amazing the entire semester and definitely aided in my experience in Brazil. They were great resources with both academic and social information and they -- along with the Brazilian housemates -- were definitely my favorite aspect of CET Brazil.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartment I lived in was one minute away from the university on a very convenient street that also had a few supermarkets and nearby bus stops. My specific apartment was very big --even by American standards-- and convenient for the 5 of us that lived there, though I know the other members had smaller apartments with up to 6 people. Still, my housemates and I were very similar in our rules and pet peeves, thus the program did a great job of arranging our housing; therefore, really complete those housing questionnaires, they will help with your experience.

* Food:

The nearby supermarkets had food for cheap prices, but eating out almost anywhere would be a little costly. Nevertheless, most students would cook in their respective apartments so budgeting for food was not difficult.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I absolutely loved the people I met in Brazil. From the roommates in Sao Paulo, to people we met on our one week excursion in Salvador, to even more people on my trip to Rio, the culture on a whole was very inviting and I appreciated the warmth and friendliness shown to me in Brazil. Still, in case one did not want to integrate with the culture or even just simply take a break from Portuguese, this was possible too, especially since there is no language pledge.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

GeoBlue was a great resource in Brazil and CET also provided great information on medical resources. I personally never really needed such resources; however, the people on the program who did, had an easy time using GeoBlue to solve their questions and problems.

* Safety:

Sao Paulo is like any other big city; thus danger does exist and requires street awareness to avoid. Again, the CET staff and Brazilian roommates are great in providing warnings of places to avoid and recommending safe areas to visit.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

The staff and roommates provided a great social experience that I wish I could have again.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The first few weeks were difficult to budget for since I still did not know of the best places to complete my shopping. However, once you are settled in the country and know of inexpensive areas, budgeting becomes very easy.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent around $50-$100 a week, depending on if I did any big shopping in the commercial districts.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? For food, the supermarket Dia was extremely inexpensive and had a rewards member cards that helps you save even more. Sometimes I could prepare meals for a few days spending around $10 on one trip. Therefore, acquiring the rewards member card for that supermarket will be a great resource and the Brazilian roommates can help you acquire one, it is an easy process.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Despite not having a language pledge, I found myself speaking Portuguese 90% of the time. The exceptions were when I spoke with my American housemates and we sometimes just wanted to speak in English. Still, since the advanced Portuguese class and my Portuguese electives were so enjoyable, I found myself wanting to speak the language all the time.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginner
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? The CET staff and roommates were of course the best resource to learn the language as they taught us most of the commonly used phrases that one would not find in textbooks. Thus, my advice is to find a great balance and pace of interaction and input that keeps you constantly practicing and learning but without overwhelming yourself.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • CET staff
  • CET roommates
  • Brazilian friends outside of CET
* What could be improved?
  • Academic rigor/ choices
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A random thing I wish I knew before I went was the school supplies in Brazil. They were often more expensive than in the US and were not of great quality; therefore, I recommend bringing your own from the US.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!