I had the experience of a lifetime studying in São Paulo, Brazil. The program is designed so that you live off, but near campus with Brazilian students who attend PUC. At PUC, depending on your Portuguese fluency, you will either direct enroll in two courses of your choice or take two courses previously designated by CET. Additionally, at CET's hub, you will take an immersive Portuguese language course and Poverty and Inequality. The CET staff is incredibly involved, fun, and supportive. The staff plan excursions and trips that complement what is being learned in class and fuel the program's fun. Altogether, these elements coalesced into one of the most beautiful and unforgettable experiences of my life. I came from a non-traditional background: my parents are immigrants and I am a first generation student. Study abroad felt like a stretch and leaving what was comfortable was scary, but perhaps more than any other program could have, CET Brazil really touched my soul. I am Afro-Latino and at its heart, Brazil is too. This made adjusting to many of the changes easy because they felt distantly familiar. I immediately connected with my roommate, other Brazilian students, and the CET staff because their hospitality and warmth felt like my family's. From Day 1, the staff was on board to answer all our concerns and questions. My roommates were always willing to take us around and within a week the students on the program had already planned our own excursion. We became a family quickly and I'm still in touch with almost all of the students and staff involved. The professors were similar, particularly the ones for Portuguese and Poverty and Inequality. They were very involved and present and interested in our personal lives. This was instrumental in making the work truly immersive because the coursework was tweaked to fit our experiences in Brazil more meaningful. With these two classes, there were tons of excursions - such as one to an indigenous village and a week-long trip to Bahia, which I really enjoyed, because I got to learn about a unique region of Brazil that is very different from São Paulo. All the courses contextualized what we saw day-to-day, particularly socially (i.e. race, sexuality and gender issue) very well. Finally, there are many fun things to do in São Paulo regarding food and nightlife. Compared to the US, going out is cheap...like $1 Uber cheap. So, I highly recommend this program and actually cannot wait to go back to Brazil and perhaps even pursue a master's degree or job there. Too often we get wrapped up in what America can offer us, but the reality is the whole world is your oyster and you should take advantage of all the traveling you can do because you never know what you'll learn or who you'll meet.
How can this program be improved?
I have few complaints about the program, but there are definitely some areas in which it can be improved. First, when I arrived in São Paulo, Brazil's school system was still in summer and we didn't have classes until the third or fourth week there. The first week was all about orientation, but between orientation and classes, there was not much structure. It was nice for a bit because as a group we got to plan a trip to the beach and go to Carnaval. However, after all, that passed I was kind of like...well what's next? So, some more structure (ie group activities) or resources on what to do in the city would be helpful. Second, academically, it was a bit difficult to adjust to the teaching style in Brazil which was definitely more lecture based. Professors made really noble attempts to make the class more interactive and some were definitely more successful than others, so it could be useful for CET to train professors hired for CET courses on how to adapt the classes a bit more to an interactive rather than lecture style. Third, while I appreciated the tours organized by CET's tour guide, I felt like we often did too much during each trip and I struggled to retain/connect to a lot of what was said.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would