Brasil: A beautiful yet jarring experience. Past Review

By (Applications Development Programming, Southwest Tennessee Community College) for

Tennessee Consortium for International Studies (TnCIS): Traveling - TnCIS in Brazil

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Minus all the racism and poverty of Brasil the trip was well worth the effort. I see myself living in Brasil for an extended period of time in the near future.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were both challenging and rewarding. I took a survival portuguese class with the Brasilian liaison. I learned so much from this class and I was practically having conversations in portuguese from what I learned in this class. The Peoples and cultures of latin america course was very interesting. It covered the history of brasil from indigenous arrival to the continent to the European invasion of the country. The anthropology class was also interesting. It discussed the African, Indigenous and European influences on Brasilian culture. It also talked about race, gender, economics, poverty and music of Brasil. Quizzes for these classes required essay form responses which were not difficult if you listened and took notes during lectures. There was no difference in the educational system because we were taught by an American professor at a Language learning school.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The onsite administration was very helpful in solving any problems that we had. I felt very comfortable taking any problems or concerns to the onsite administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Aside from bugs and heat the home itself was very comfortable and spacious. The neighborhood was gated and guarded so safety was not a concern. The homestay was a bit far from nightlife and class so taxis and buses were an unexpected big expense. I spent around $150 on transportation alone. At first, the homestay mother was very warm and welcoming. Maybe 2 weeks into the stay it all changed. I hardly ever had a conversation with my homestay. The home owner and her family were also very mean to the maid. The maid confided in me and I often consoled her when she cried. The home owner assumed that I could not speak or understand Portuguese so she would make comments concerning black skin and black people to the maid not knowing that me and the maid had conversations in Portuguese all the time. This created tension in the home for me and the other african American female student. We would stay in our rooms when we were in the home and tried to avoid her and her family as much as possible. This still did not put a huge damper on my time in Brasil. Minus the racism it was still a wonderful experience and I see myself returning in the very near future.

* Food:

The first 2 weeks the food was very good and fresh. The last two weeks the I ate out often. The food was not stored properly sometimes and I refused to eat it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Christ Statue and LAPA nightlife were some of the most memorable highlights of my stay in Brasil.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The administration was paranoid so I guess that made us safer. Vaccines in Brasil were free so if I needed one I could receive one no charge. I remained healthy throughout my entire stay in Brasil so I have knowledge of how the health care system works.

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


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent around $250 per week on food and personal expenses. Taxis were also a big chunk of my expenses because my homestay was far from everything.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I wish I would have been informed to set aside $150-200 for transportation. This was unexpected expense as my homestay rarely took me anywhere or paid for anything even though she received $1000 US per student staying in her home. She had 4 students.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? None. My college does not offer any Portuguese courses.
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

We practiced Portuguese with the Brasilian correspondent, Odirene. She taught school for 40 years so I was very comfortable being in here class. They divided the students up into three different language categories. The students who were familiar with Spanish were basically doing the same course work as the students who were studying Portuguese for college credit. Before this course, I had no knowledge of Portuguese but after this class I can hold conversations, give directions and understand Portuguese much better. Most people in Brasil spoke no English. The middle and upper class Brasilians are the only people who spoke english. I had plenty of practice in Portuguese because the maid at my homestay spoke no english but she always talked to me. This greatly increased my Portuguese language skills.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A student looking to fully embrace brasilian culture and people would do great in the program.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Language and Culture in Brazil

Course Department: Anthropology 2010
Instructor: Dr Richard Pace
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The work was not challenging. The course made great use of the Brasilian surroundings to show relevance of the course to the present day culture of Brasil. Dr Pace has been visiting Brasil for 30 years and is fluent in Portuguese. He was very knowledgeable and had a wealth of information to share with the students. I participated more in class because I am generally interested in Brasil and its culture. I was asking lots of questions and participating in group discussions.
Credit Transfer Issues: no
Course Name/Rating:

Peoples and Cultures of Latin America

Course Department: Sociology 2990
Instructor: Dr Richard Pace
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course offered great insight on the economic, social, racial, gender and class issues of Brasil. We talked about European and its affects of Brasil. We also talked heavily about race and ethnicity.
Credit Transfer Issues: no