When I decided to study abroad in Brasil, I had no idea what I was getting myself into—all I knew is that I wanted to study in Brasil to learn more about the country, the culture, the language, and myself. I did not know if it was the right decision even as I got onto the plane in Grand Rapids on July 31st. But the minute I landed in São Paulo, I knew that I had made the right decision — I was immediately greeted at Guarulhos International Airport by the intern at CET Brasil (Ariane). I immediately felt welcomed and ready to see what the next four months had in store for me. 

During my four months in Brasil, I would learn more about the world and myself than I ever did in a classroom in Ann Arbor or in a single day in my own country. We would travel to so many different places in Brasil and see so many different people from so many different walks of life. We would take classes on Brazilian politics, poverty and inequality in Brasil, and current social issues in Brasil as well as Portuguese classes and one direct enroll course of our choosing (I choose an audiovisual translation course in which I worked alongside other students at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC) that would also count toward my translation minor). Beyond all of this, we would create long-lasting friendships with Brazilian we would meet during our time in São Paulo as well as with the other American students in our small group of ten.

I think the ideas that will stick with me the most from my time in Brasil will be what we learned in our Poverty and Inequality course and our week in Salvador da Bahia in the northeast of the country. It was during this time we learned about the inequalities in Brasil that were established more than 150 years ago when slavery was abolished in 1888 (Brasil was the last country to do so). We would learn about the governments following the military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 until 1985 and how they attempted to help Brazilian citizens gain opportunities. 

Then we would learn about the current Temer government and its efforts to essentially undo every progressive thing that Dilma Rousseff ever did. So to this day, the populations in the peripheries and favelas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and Salvador are majority black populations even though Brasil thinks of itself to be a country that “doesn’t see race.”

I am already planning exactly how I will return to Brasil for work after graduation. CET Academic Programs introduced me to the idea of experiential learning, which is something that I am now interested in pursuing as a career (administering courses or running study abroad programs like this either here in the United States or in other countries such as Brasil). I am so happy to have had the opportunity to spend this semester in Brasil.