CET Study Abroad in Brazil

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About

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 weeklong Traveling Seminar to Salvador de Bahia, allow you to engage with Brazilian society as an actor, not a spectator. Students of all Portuguese language levels and majors are welcome.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 10 reviews
  • Academics 7.4
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
Jack
9/10

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 :)

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend
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Kala
8/10

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.

How can this program be improved?
I think some of the CET courses could have be more linear in their direction.
Yes, I recommend
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Sahidah
10/10

CET Brazil '17 Experience

To say that this changed my life would not be enough to encapsulate what this experience meant to me. My semester in Brazil was time well spent and will forever have a special place in my heart. I was challenged intellectually and emotionally because I chose to throw myself into Sao Paulo, Brazil head first. The food, people, culture and studies all made me reconsider everything that I had ever known about Brazil, myself and my own country. There is no place better to go if you want to have the time of your life. Brazil will take you, break you for your own educational growth and then put you back together as someone well versed in the best that Brazil has including coxinhas and cafe com leite. You will only enjoy this too much!

How can this program be improved?
By letting more students know that this program exists! Everyone should have the opportunity to chose this as their study abroad choice.
Yes, I recommend
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Evelyn
10/10

Sao Paulo: The Best Place on Earth

My time in Sao Paulo was the exact study abroad experience I was looking for. Every aspect of the program exceeded my expectations and I could not be happier when I look back at my abroad experience. CET's unique class options, along with the direct enrollment option at Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo (PUC), made for a very engaging classroom experience. Not only was I able to meet Brazilian's in my PUC courses, but I was also able to form relationships with my professor's, who truly demonstrated their passion for the subjects they were teaching. Outside of the classroom, CET made sure to pack the program with trips and excursions. While some were within Sao Paulo, other trips took us out of the city and into completely different cities like Salvador da Bahia and Paraty (where we got to feed monkeys!). The change of setting was great and always provided for a good time. What I considered really special about CET was the commitment of Sergio, the Academic Director and Sulia, the Resident Director to the program and to us, the students! From the pizza parties for everyone to get to know each other, to the final goodbye dinner, they were always there to facilitate our time abroad I knew that if I ever needed anything I could go to the CET office and either of them would be happy to help! Sergio, who was also my Portuguese professor, did an amazing job in making Portuguese very enjoyable to study, through his unique teaching style. CET did an incredible job in organizing their Sao Paulo program and I'm forever thankful for that!

Yes, I recommend
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Steven
10/10

Summer 2016 in São Paulo

Going into my summer in São Paulo, I couldn't help but think about the fact that I wasn't going to be in Rio. Visiting Rio 5 years ago was what motivated be to start studying Portuguese, and I wasn't sure how I felt about not being in the city that I had fallen in love with. However, after spending 6 weeks in São Paulo I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. São Paulo, compared to Rio, is a much better city to live in (in my opinion): it's safer, cleaner, not filled with tourists, and it has much better food/culture/music/museum options. Yes, it's a massive city, but it's a massive city filled with tons to discover, and I never found myself bored with São Paulo at all--it's really a fantastic place to live and study in.

Talking more about the program specifically, I have to say that I was quite impressed with the quality of the program. The program staff were all incredible and would go out of their way to help any student with anything from a restaurant recommendation to a health problem. The housing was great as well, and I think my experience in São Paulo was greatly enhanced just by living in an apartment with Brazilian roommates close to my own age (many friends, however, seemed to enjoy their homestays). The classes (Portuguese and Current Social Issues in Brazil) were intense but very well structured, and I was quite surprised at how much I actually learned in six short weeks. Lastly, one of the aspects of the program that most impressed me was all the excursions organized (and funded!) by CET staff. On these excursions, we were all able to explore more of São Paulo (and farther--the weekend trip to Paraty was definitely a highlight) while learning more about Brazil. They not only supplemented what we were learning in class, but they also gave us a taste of Brazilian life (and they were always fun). I'd highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in Portuguese/Brazil and has already taken at least one semester of Portuguese--I had an incredible time and can't wait for the next time I'm in Brazil.

Yes, I recommend
Maddie
10/10

Summer Intensive Portuguese

CET Academic Programs has a partnership with Tulane University to provide a summer intensive Portuguese experience over the course of six weeks. I took two classes (for three credits each); one intensive Portuguese class and one class about current Brazilian social issues. Both classes were conducted entirely in Portuguese, which really helped to improve my language skills just on an immersion basis. Both classes also had planned excursions to different museums and sights around the city (São Paulo) that were both relevant to the coursework and interesting . Both the program staff and the instructors were incredibly helpful and clearly cared a lot about the students. The program housing, with either a homestay option or the option to live with a Brazilian roommate, also helped to improve Portuguese. São Paulo, meanwhile, is a very interesting city, with a lot to do and see.

Yes, I recommend
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Karen
9/10

Semester in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo is a bustling, metropolitan city that really feels like the New York of South America. Although the city can be overwhelming with its traffic, commutes, and pollution, the city has so many places and events to visit that a semester will simply not be enough time for one to visit the myriad of places. Sao Paulo is a city rich in culture, art, and fashion, and I loved exploring the city with CET and with friends.
Moreover, my semester in Brazil was a learning experience that went beyond the classes I took at PUC--I had the amazing oppportunity to experience the sociopolitical activism in Brazil through the friends made. From attending protests, to following the occupations of public schools from high schools, to talking to teachers about their opinions on the public education system of Brazil, I loved learning about the current events and politics in the country through the friendships I made with my roommates and close friends I am still in touch with. Brazil has amazed my with the tenacity of social and political activism from its citizens. Beyond my amazing study abroad experince, my immersion in Brazil has given me so many new friends that I cannot wait to see again when I visit Brazil again. I know I am going back!

How can this program be improved?
For non-Portuguese speakers (or for people who do not have a background in a romance language), I think the program should offer an intense language minimester before the actual program starts so it is not so difficult to learn when the semester starts.
Yes, I recommend
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Lauren
8/10

Learned so much more than I thought

Prior to my semester abroad, anytime someone mentioned Brazil my mind conjured stereotypical images. Beaches, bikinis, caipirinhas, dancing in the streets. What I wasn't picturing was a world-class city teeming with a wide range of cultural life and international companies and ex-pats from all corners of the globe. But this is what Sao Paulo is like. It's a giant, bustling, highly international city whose limits and skyscrapers stretch far off into the distance, farther than the eye can see. My semester here was incredibly fun, but also challenging. I really enjoyed the flexibility of the classes, which enabled me to travel around the continent as I had hoped. Although I was underwhelmed by the quality of the local university, the real reason I came to Sao Paulo was to learn Portuguese, something that I successfully accomplished thanks to the strength of CET’s Portuguese language program in-country. I made great friends with local Brazilians, especially thanks to my local roommates who were more than willing to help me with Portuguese and show me around the city. I attended cool cultural and international events, such as the Economist’s Brazil Summit, and did my fair share of dancing in the street. I’d go back again in a heartbeat!

How can this program be improved?
Improve the Poverty and Inequality Course, or enable students to take other courses instead of tying them into this one.
Yes, I recommend
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Yara
9/10

Abroad in a Nutshell

I truly find myself lucky to have been able to spend five months embracing this incredible journey, traveling and studying in Brazil.The one thing I reminded myself as I was browsing through abroad programs, was that I wanted to be pushed outside of my comfort zone and be thrown into situations where I truly had to rely on my own instincts and experiences. I'm a strong believer that this CET program provided me with the right platform to do so. Being able to go abroad to a country without previously studying its native language is quite hard to find in abroad programs, especially countries where English is not commonly practiced.

São Paulo definitely has its similarities to New York City: a big city with lots of people, urban culture and its own style. There were many times where I did not feel like I was even in Brazil because of the population, high-rise buildings and similar fashion senses. But traveling around Brazil, I really gained a better understanding of Brazilian lifestyle depending on the area you live. Being able to travel to the North of Brazil to places like Rio de Janerio and Salvador, Bahia I saw that it was just like the "West Coast vs. East Coast" rivalry. The North is a beach-y and laid back lifestyle, you see more of the Afro-Brazilian culture as you travel to places like Bahia. But as you travel more South like Guarujá and São Paulo City you get more of new face-paced metropolitan feel. Both parts of Brazil are so unique and embedded with culture in their own ways and honestly shows how diverse Brazil is and how you can find whatever you are looking for.

One of the biggest reasons why the CET Brazil program is different than most programs is because I was truly "studying" abroad. Most students want to leave their host universities for a semester of fun in new place. And while I had the time of my life abroad, a major reason why I enjoyed it so much was because what I was learning in my classes or the discussions I was having with my roommates about Brazilian culture was shown in my day to day life. I understood inequality gaps within different regions of Brazilian from my classes and was able to see first hand how this effects society by visiting and traveling to different cities. A lot of my discussions with my roommates, friends or even my host family for the weekend we spent in Itapevi, SP were more than just interesting and enjoyable but rather meaningful in the sense that I could bring back the same topics to my classes or in class assignments.

My advice to anyone going abroad is to go with the flow and take in everything as it comes. You cannot predict how your experience abroad will turn out, so do not letting expectations and other people'e experiences take away from yours. At the end of the day, your experience abroad is what you make of it. My experience abroad would not have been as incredible without the help and support of CET from before I even landed in Brazil to when I was physically on-ground.

How can this program be improved?
Having set program travel dates so the students are able to plan their own traveling and exploring.
Yes, I recommend
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Kadija
10/10

Travelling

The CET program allowed me to explore one of my dream destinations. As a non-speaking Portuguese student, previous programs at my school required a Spanish or Portuguese pre-requisite to study abroad in Brazil, which is why I did not consider studying abroad before. I had a wonderful experience with the program as staff members were very helpful and available at all times to help me navigate some of the challenges in Brazil.
One of my favorite experiences was being able to travel to different cities around Brazil. Before coming here, I had no idea how diverse the country is. Every city has its own culture and uniqueness, which makes travelling around special. Travelling to different cities really helped me understand Brazil and look at the country in a different way. By spending Carnavale in Rio de Janeiro, I was able to witness the big parade and attend different blocos and truly immersed myself in the culture. By traveling to Salvador, I was able to better see the inequality that plagues the country and experienced the Afro-Brazilian culture. By traveling to Florianopolis, I was able to meet different travelers at the hostel and exchange stories about our journeys. By travelling to Belo Horizente, I was able to take part in an interactive art exhibit that I would never see in the states and ate some of Brazil’s best foods.
Another part of the program that I really enjoyed were the classes and how they correlated with the visits. For example, in my Current Social Issues in Brazil, we were able to learn about Quilombos. During our visit to Paraty, we were able to visit a Quilombo and eat lunch there. The reason why I liked this is because I was able to experience the Quilombo and the people first hand. During the discussion, we were able to hear more about their perspectives and their experience as residents of a Quilombo that we didn’t get from class. We also visited an indigenous tribe, which was great because I have never done that before. Again we got to speak to the residents and asked them questions like how do they define wealth? Do they believe in inter-marriage? How do they see outsiders (white Brazilians)? These are all questions that are really great to ask someone first hand because it is difficult to research online. I think going beyond classroom discussion and textbooks to the human experience helped me learn a great deal about these topics.
Lastly, one of my favorite things about Brazil are the people. Brazilians are so friendly, welcoming, and inviting. Everywhere I went from the grocery store to the corner store, I was always welcomed with open arms. Sao Paulo is not a very touristy city, so Brazilians are always fascinated to encounter a foreigner and I feel like they really want to get to know me. Whenever I went to churrascos, families always made me feel welcome and were not afraid to be open with me about their personal business. This really allowed me to connect with a lot of Brazilians. Coming from a society that values privacy, this new culture was really refreshing for me.
The journey to Brazil was a memorable one. I still haven’t done everything I wanted to do because the country has so much to offer. But thanks to CET, I was able to conquer one of my dream destinations, learn Portuguese, and experience things about Brazil that only a person truly living the reality can understand.

How can this program be improved?
Concrete dates for program travels ahead of time.
Yes, I recommend

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About CET Academic Programs

CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio...