The CET Brazil program was really amazing. The best part, for me, was staying with a Brazilian roommate. This is different than most study abroad programs, where you stay with a host family, but for me it was ideal. I was able to connect with my roommate as a peer and friend, and we were able to share so many experiences and support each other in so many ways. It was amazing to be able to share the experience with someone who was also young and a student, to be able to see São Paulo and talk about São Paulo with other young people.
The school, PUC, is a really unique place. Lots of interesting and radical young people, a lot of really cool seminars happening, with art everywhere. I was repeatedly surprised and impressed with the conversations happening at/facilitated by the school.
It was definitely a big city, which is an environment I was not used to living in, and I loved it. If you are looking for a more rural, nature-focused program, this one won't be for you. But the city has so much to offer and so many amazing sights, places to eat, places to see, people to meet, free events, museums, music, and more. (These are the things that you sometimes have to go out there and find - facebook was a great resource for cool events happening around the city, and museums almost always had something going on, exhibits and seminars and special events. And almost always free!) And at certain points in the program, such as our trip to Salvador de Bahía and Paraty, we were able to get a sense of the more scenic and green parts of Brazil, which was amazing, but an exception to the everyday routine of the program. The program also has a lot of built in excursions which, if you take full advantage, can really give you a great picture of the city and show you things you probably wouldn't have been able to find on your own. The program was very structured, which for me was helpful, but if you are looking for more independence, this probably wouldn't be for you. There was a lot of independence, especially since we live with roommates rather than families, but the structure made a big difference (in a good way) for me.
The social justice focus of the program was prominent in almost every aspect. We were constantly having critical conversations about what we were experiencing and certain power dynamics in every situation. It was really great to have a staff and a peer group of students to prepare and reflect with, and I always felt supported.