Studying abroad in Brazil with CET was such an unforgettable experience. CET really emphasizes immersion which they do primarily by placing students in apartments with Brazilian roommates. I lived with both American students and Brazilian students and made amazing bonds with them. Living with Brazilians really helped strengthen my Portuguese, in that I was able to learn more informal language, was introduced to Brazilian popular culture, and music. My Brazilian roommates also invited me to their families' homes where I got to see other neighborhoods and suburbs of São Paulo, and experience Brazilian home life.
Academic-wise, CET offers a broad set of courses. I took a required Portuguese course, in which the professor was adamant about providing support for those of us who took direct enroll classes. This professor gave us activities and writing assignments similar to those that we would expect in direct enroll courses. I took one direct enroll course in Economics at PUC São Paulo and was surprised and relieved at how quickly I made friends in that class. Students at PUC are generally nice and I'd encourage future CET students to direct enroll as it will be an opportunity for you to make friends outside of CET and truly experience the Brazilian university education system.
I'm so grateful that CET does this program in São Paulo. I definitely enjoy urban spaces more so São Paulo was perfect for me! There was always an opportunity for me to go to various events throughout the city, explore different neighborhoods, and public transportation was pretty convenient and easy to navigate! In terms of safety, I didn't run into any danger; like any place, just be mindful of your surroundings and possessions. Try to speak Portuguese as much as possible--you're in Brazil after all!
CET does a great job in immersing students in the diversity of culture in Brazil. We did a one week trip to Salvador to learn more about Afro-Brazilian culture, a weekend trip to Paraty where we were able to interact with a caiçara community, and for the Poverty and Inequality class we also spent a weekend in community with an indigenous community in an urban village. I really valued these immersive trips as they broadened my view of Brazil beyond the hustle and bustle of São Paulo.
There are opportunities for students to volunteer while on this program and the program coordinators were very open to reaching out to your organization of interest on your behalf. I ended up volunteering at a tech services company founded and run by queer Afro-Brazilian women and it was one of the most impactful parts of my experience in São Paulo because I was able to be in community with and connect with other black women over technology.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience in Brazil and would definitely go back! The bonds I built with other study abroad students, my Brazilian roommates, and Brazilian locals are priceless. Your study abroad experience definitely is what you make of it-- don't feel like you have to stick with the social circles of CET students. Don't be afraid to branch out and make friends with students at PUC, or people you meet at events throughout the city!