Living in Belo Horizonte November 29, 2017

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 07/25/2016 to 06/24/2017 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Belo Horizonte

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Besides improved language skills, I appreciate that I got to experience a different aspect of Brazilian culture that isn't often featured in US media. Minas Gerais is very different from Rio. It was worthwhile!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic rigor varied depending on the department, instructor, and the level of the class. I had some classes where instructors were more lax, and I had some who assigned a lot of work. For me overall, however, my educational experience felt rigorous because keeping up with the language was a struggle. I attended the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The onsite administration was friendly and helpful overall, although they were pretty "hands-off," which some students were critical of. I liked the group excursions that were organized.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was satisfied with my living arrangements. My host family was good. The accommodations and the host families are vetted by the program beforehand.

* Food:

Brazilian food is great, especially the food in Minas Gerais! If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or do not eat pork, you will most likely have difficulties accommodating your diet in Belo Horizonte.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I became better integrated as time went on.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not fall seriously ill during my time in the program. I did catch a cold and a fever, which was remedied with some time off from class and some tea. The administrator did check in physically when she heard that I was sick. Yellow fever was an issue while I was there. We were advised to get vaccinated (and PUC offered free vaccinations) but it wasn't mandatory.

* Safety:

I feel like Belo Horizonte is one of the safest of the large Brazilian cities. However, crime was definitely more of an issue there than in my college town. "Snatch and grab" robberies are common, so one shouldn't loiter with expensive items or electronics in hand. Ask your host family/Brazilian friends about a new area before you visit. Basic safety.

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

I like the independence that the program provided, as well as the fact that the program's director was from the host city.

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)

Daily life in Belo Horizonte was relatively cheap, however airfare and monthly rent were the heavy loads. I'm grateful for my aid, but I do believe that Wellesley should do more to assist students studying abroad.

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

Day to day life, including all classes, was in Portuguese.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Port 203
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? If you can, find friends who are native speakers and practice with them.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

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

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The friends I made
  • Emphasis on language
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • Preparation for differences between U.S/ Brazilian universities.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I really wish I had studied more Portuguese before I went.

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!