Overseas Study Program
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Chelsea’s majors: International Studies, Portuguese
Year/term abroad: Spring 2011
Reason You Chose this Program: I have lived and traveled throughout Brazil but had never been to the southern part of the country. When I saw São Paulo was offered I jumped at the opportunity to see a new region of the county.
Favorite Classes: Brazilian Contemporary Poetry and Advanced Brazilian Portuguese & Literature
Describe the Housing Situation: I lived in a homestay with an older widowed woman who worked as a Tarot card reader and volunteered for the local hospital and her middle aged son in a comfortable apartment. I enjoyed the family lunches and get-togethers throughout the semester as well as the delicious home-cooked meals
Advice to Future Study Abroad Participants: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s ok to get lost or make mistakes in the language and in fact they are the best learning tools. Making that extra effort to go outside your comfort zone to talk to strangers, ask questions and explore your new surroundings will make all the difference.
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: There were huge differences in university life and classes between here and at PUC-SP. Everything from the teaching style, class set up, grading, evaluations, scheduling, atmosphere, etc., is completely different and a little difficult to adjust to. After a little trial and error and asking lots of questions I finally got the hang of it.
What I wish I knew before I left: Everyday costs. São Paulo is an extremely expensive city and the funds needed for transportation, outings, and traveling is significantly more than I had estimated. Little costs add up fast and everything costs something.
Going abroad versus staying on campus, discuss: I really missed life at IU while I was abroad and watching what all my friends were up to, the events they went to and the traditions that I was missing made me pretty homesick. But going abroad for a semester was a learning experience that I could not have obtained any other way especially in my comfortable little bubble here at Indiana. Learning how to take care of yourself and live and learn in a new country, language and culture is a skill that I will forever draw upon.
Fact about your host country that you think people would be surprised to learn: São Paulo is the home to a very active and vibrant street art and graffiti scene. Famous artists’ works can be seen all over the city and are even sometimes commissioned to beautify the city.