CET Brazil

Video and Photos

Paraty, a small colonial town in Rio de Janeiro state
Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo
Sunset over São Paulo from the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC-USP)
Waterfalls in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro
Historical Pelourinho in our Salvador tour
View of Sao Paulo from Edificio Martinelli


This program is for students who want to step out of their comfort zone and understand Brazil from a local perspective. The curriculum is a combination of Portuguese language courses and electives taught in English, but intermediate and advanced students may opt for full immersion by taking direct enroll courses in Portuguese alongside Brazilian peers.

Classes have a strong focus on social justice, and volunteering is a central component of the program. Excursions, including a week-long Traveling Seminar to Salvador da Bahia, allow you to engage with Brazilian society and not just spectate. Students of all Portuguese language levels and majors are welcome.

  • Electives in Politics, Economics, Sociology, Film
  • Courses taught in English or Portuguese
  • Traveling Seminar to Salvador da Bahia
  • Local Brazilian roommates

Questions & Answers


based on 16 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 16
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Yes, I recommend this program

Learning and Living in São Paulo

I did not know much about São Paulo or Brazil before deciding to participate in the CET Brazil program. I did not speak a word of Português, but I was very interested in the Social Justice thematic as well as living with other Brazilian students. All of my expectations for this program were exceeded. Academically, I was challenged both inside and outside of the classroom. All of my classes were incredibly experiential and incorporated the interests of the students. I was able to take advantage of all of the amazing artistic opportunities in São Paulo and travel throughout Brazil through the program and after the program ended. I fell in love with Brazil so much that I decided to return for 3 more months before returning to University in the US. I felt incredibly welcome and made lifelong friends.

What would you improve about this program?
I would improve the overlap within the course material. Although it was helpful to hear about certain historical events and occurrences multiple times, there was abundant repetition between classes. I also believe that the traveling within the program could have included less activities. On some trips it was a bit overwhelming, and the lack of rest time inhibited enjoyment of certain activities.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Connections in a Big City

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.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I think that everyone has to make the experience their own, so it's important to trust yourself and do what seems right to you, even if that means staying in for a little bit and taking a break from the stimulation. You will enjoy everything more if you are taking care of yourself and taking time to relax and reflect and be with yourself. It is also important to push yourself beyond your comfort zone - talk to strangers, kiss people if you want to, try new things (even if they seem scary), do the things you wouldn't be able to do anywhere else. The city is amazing but sometimes it won't always come to you and you have to go out and get it.
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Relationships

I cannot describe how much I enjoyed my time in São Paulo! Of course, the food and scenery were all great, but one of my favorite parts was the chance to meet so many amazing people. The PUC students that stayed with us made getting to know Brazilian culture a lot easier and the CET staff was always so friendly and helpful. I also bonded a lot with the other American students. Most of this was probably possible because we were forced to spend a lot of time together, and not in a bad way! There were many excursions and other activities to keep us busy that were really fun. I believe that when you experience something exciting with someone else, it helps grow relationships.
I've done one other study abroad trip and I did not keep in touch with the students from that program nearly as much as I do with this one. I will always remember the things I experienced while studying in São Paulo, but the relationships I made will definitely have the greatest lasting impact.

What would you improve about this program?
I appreciated the challenge of taking almost all of my classes in a foreign language, but some of the instruction was not clear or organized. It made the class a bit hard to follow, even when I started to understand the language a lot more.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible study abroad experience

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!

What would you improve about this program?
The courses provided by CET oftentimes overlapped in material, especially Poverty and Inequality and Current Social Issues in Brazil. The lectures during Poverty and Inequality were often long-winded and didn't encourage much discussion. In that course, the most fascinating aspects were the site visits--maybe lectures could help prepare us more for what to expect in those immersion trips.
In addition, this program could do a better job in providing resources for students who would like to practice their respective religions while abroad. Perhaps a list of places of worship in São Paulo could be provided to students at the beginning of the semester.
In addition, in the spring semester, classes didn't begin until one month after we arrived. This was due to Carnaval and to the fact that the academic year had not yet started at PUC. We didn't realize this until we got there--CET could do a better job of notifying us of this during the pre-arrival orientation.
Finally, the student visa registration process was very long and didn't end until a month before the program end date. Oftentimes, the program coordinators would notify us of required meetings at the consulate only days in advance of the scheduled meetings, leaving us to scramble and reschedule previously scheduled commitments and sometimes miss classes. In these various steps often of short notice, students had to pay up to $50 for a visit to a consulate. This process was more expensive than I had expected and was definitely an inconvenience especially for students who hadn't budgeted for this. CET could do a better job of detailing the monetary requirements of this process and its length.
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

My overall experience in Brazil through CET was extraordinary. Although I already learned and knew quite a lot about Brazil, its culture, its society and also the Portuguese language prior to my trip in Spring 2018, the CET/PUC courses that I took, the different activities I took part in, as well as the trips that I made, both through CET and independently have really helped me gain great wealth of knowledge about the country and the people, as well as better my conversational skills. I have also made a lot of friends throughout my program, especially with those outside of the CET Brazil program. Since my return to the United States, I feel more Brazilian. In other words, I can say that Brazil is in me. I would highly recommend this program.

In Paraty, Brazil
Yes, I recommend this program

CET Brazil

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program

Experiences and People I Will Never Forget

As a computer science major, I was very hesitant about enrolling in a program about social issues - something I thought would not add much value to my professional life. Getting to Brazil I could see the staggering inequality as we flew by the seemingly endless horizon of buildings and right over the more disorganized favelas. This scene went along with the reoccurring theme of poverty seen throughout the semester. Visiting multiple NGOs, studying the details, and even just talking to people on the streets and local bakeries, I realized that this experience was definitely beneficial for my computer science career. More specifically, I got inspired to create applications and volunteer in ways geared to help those in need. Doing research for my CET class on the effect of smartphones on the poor, I got exposed to apps that have tremendously helped people in low income areas such as those mapping the streets in the streets in favelas, unrecognized by widely used apps such as Google Maps.

However, don't be worried about this theme of poverty. Although we got up close with it and learned about the effects, it was always in an extremely safe way. I never felt unsafe at any point during my time in worse off areas. We were always accompanied by leaders from the community which advised the community to leave us alone as we were just bringing attention to the issues affecting them. Apart from this, the area that we are housed in is extremely safe and clean. Despite this, you still have to be aware of your surroundings - just like in any other country.

Although the academic and professional aspect was impactful, by far the thing that will stay with me the most is the relationships I created with the locals, especially the Brazilians I lived with and the staff at CET. They were extremely helpful, friendly, and welcoming. Right away we all got super comfortable with each other and helped one another with Portuguese and English. They are truly people I can rely on and am sure I will stay in touch with them for the rest of my life. Some of my fondest memories of the semester are simply hanging out with my roommates just exchanging words, cracking jokes, and laughing at each other. If you truly want a cultural immersion, this is the right program for you - the Brazilian roommates will make sure you meet more locals, eat local foods, see unknown sights, and master the language.

To any future students: 1) be prepared to broaden your perspectives and learn about multiple cultures as you will be exposed to multiple religions, micro communities, and traditions unique to Brazil. 2) Don't be shy about your Portuguese! Everybody here is very understanding and welcoming of foreigners. 3) Make sure you save up some money to travel within Brazil - there are hundreds of incredible beaches you will never get to see anywhere else (Check out Ilha Grande if you can).

All in all, I came in with just 2 bags full of clothes and left with genuine friendships, a fluent grasp of a language, unforgettable experiences, and the warmness of the Brazilian culture. I highly recommend this program to anybody considering it :)

What would you improve about this program?
I would say that the program was lacking a bit more organization when it came to program and class dates. Many activities were postponed or cancelled with short notice. Other than that, the program was enjoyable and well-rounded.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Brazil Spring 2018

This past semester, I studied in the CET program in São Paulo, Brazil. This was my second time out of the United States but the first time living in another country.

Location: São Paulo is a vibrant and colorful city that offers tons of opportunities for fun and education. One thing I appreciated was that I didn't feel out of place in Brazil because of the familiarity of a large city – the only difference being that people speak Portuguese. I will say that if you don't have the initiative to go out and do things and interact then São Paulo can be boring. That being said, I suggest going to Ibirapuera Park (Parque Ibirapuera), its a large park that allows you to escape the city.

Housing: CET provides housing in apartments in the Perdizes sector of São Paulo. The location of the housing is important because it is really close to the CET offices and one of the PUC (host university) campuses. The area is gated and safe, but it is important to note that this area is extremely privileged. If you are a person of color, you will likely not resonate with the area but not unwelcoming. In addition, because CET places us in apartments, they also pair us with Brazilian roommates who also attend PUC. I think this is the greatest benefit to the program because I'm able to learn from peers at anytime and I don't feel a great difference from other college life.

Program: The CET program works in the way that they offer two mandatory classes that you take outside of the host university and the other three depend on your language level. As for me, my university required that all my courses be taken in Portuguese and that my three remaining classes needed to be taken at PUC. In the beginning I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle this requirement but ultimately it isn't more work than I receive in the US. The Portuguese language that I take is lenient yet comes with a lot of work. We give multiple presentations within the semester and grammar work – in my opinion, while there is a high quantity of work, the more I am forced to speak at a college level I feel as though I am improving at a greater speed than ever before. As for the courses at PUC, they reflect what I would expect from college classes, I think the only difference is that final grades are completely dependent on a couple tests or a final paper with no other influences.

In addition, the program involves multiple excursions to places within in São Paulo and to other cities in Brazil. In the trip to Salvador, Bahia they combined a week of beaches, islands, and cultural exposure which was pretty amazing. I can honestly say now that I have visited some private islands.

Another thing that stems from how the program is set up are the people you interact with. The other people that make up my program are all Americans and they are usually the only people I interact with regularly. I highly recommend trying to make friends with other people at the university so you can have the best experience of living in Brazil. Because this can be difficult, I'm grateful for the Brazilian roommates that are always willing to be friendly.

Ultimately, Brazil is amazing, and I greatly enjoyed my time here!
(A little tip, if you have already decided to come to São Paulo, some things to remember so you won't be missing them: hot sauce, Reese's (thought Paçocas are pretty good), and any special hair products you may need.

What would you improve about this program?
I think some of the CET courses could have be more linear in their direction.