Brazil: Florianópolis - Business, Environmental Studies

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Video and Photos

surfing class, surfers
surfing class, surfers
brazil, beach, friends
brazil, beach, friends
sunset over brazil
sunset over brazil
Hike to a secluded beach!
My favorite coffee place

About

The Florianópolis program offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the incredibly diverse and dynamic culture of Brazil while living on a beautiful sub-tropical island and studying at one South America's most prestigious universities. The program is ideal for students who want to learn about the world's fifth-largest country, one of the fastest-growing economies, and its diverse mix of European, African, and indigenous cultures.

Learn an old European language with a unique modern twist while soaking up the beautiful weather and sandy white beaches of the southeastern Brazilian coast. Influences from centuries of immigration collide and are reborn on this island which has retained and developed a culture that is different from the mainland and unique to Brazil. Locals mingle with visitors from Europe and the Americas who choose the island's charms and almost perpetually warm climate.

  • Study at one of South America's top five universities in a beautiful setting close to a vibrant city center
  • Live on a beautiful subtropical island with over 40 beaches, rainforest, lakes,and quiet fishing villages
  • Discover the local and hidden charms of a historical island which has developed its own unique cultural heritage
  • Participate in a tremendous variety of outdoor activities including hiking, diving, surfing, sandboarding, sailing, and whale-watching
  • Experience the thrill of living in one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic countries in the world, with opportunities to travel to the Amazon, Rio de Janeiro, and Iguaçu Falls
Highlights
  • Study at one of Brazil’s most prestigious and popular universities, located on a beautiful island in the south of the country.
  • Discover a corner of Brazil famous for its natural beauty, with more than 40 beaches, protected forests, lagoons, and trails, while immersing yourself in the local and hidden charms of a historic island that has developed its own unique cultural heritage.
  • Participate in a great variety of outdoor activities including hiking, diving, surfing, soccer, and swimming.
  • Experience the thrill of living in one of the most dynamic countries in the world, with opportunities to travel to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Iguaçu Falls.

Summer Virtual Internships & Online Classes are Here!

Let USAC bring the world to you through our new online Global Perspectives Program where you can gain an international perspective and develop intercultural experience through online courses and virtual internships. Students who complete a USAC Global Perspectives Program during Summer 2020 are eligible for a discount on future USAC programs.

Scholarships

USAC Scholarships
USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $1,000

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.21 Rating
based on 14 reviews
  • Academics 6.9
  • Support 9
  • Fun 8.5
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 14
Default avatar
Valentina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Experience

The USAC Florianopolis program was everything I needed from a summer study abroad experience and more. From the amazing USAC staff, professors, my fellow program peers, and just the people of brazil all together made this an experience that I will never forget. I was able to practice and improve my Portuguese through language classes and immersion as well as have new experiences with both local Brazilian and American friends. USAC provided a bridge into brazils beautiful culture and allowed me the opportunity to grow both academically and personally. The USAC staff on site is dedicated to providing the best experience while also allowing the students to create their own unique journey. The classes offered were open to Brazilian student and it was really cool to see a different perspective from them and have that cultural exchange both in and outside of the classroom. The buddy program was also a really cool way to integrate with other university students and create lasting friendships.
The natural beauty of the island makes it easy to fall in love with the location and the warmth of the Brazilian people makes it hard to leave. I am grateful to USAC for providing such an amazing atmosphere for learning, growth,​ and fun!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would try to do more weekend trips to surrounding cities!
Default avatar
Carolyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You never want to sleep!

When first arriving in Floripa, I felt immediate welcoming by the program director and my host family. If there were any problems or questions that I came across, someone was always willing to help. The classes were interesting and it was awesome to have class with the Brazilian students. After class there was a wide range of things to do, go on a hike, surf, hangout at the beach, or try a new food place. Everything was easily accessible by public transportation. The Brazilians are very friendly and want to hangout and take the students out dancing, university parties, or new places to see the sunset. You get the full cultural immersion without feeling lost.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of my favorite/most surprising thing I did while abroad was surf in Rio for a weekend. We took a few classes from the program and went to Rio and decided to rent boards and I was surprised how much I really learned over just a few classes!
Default avatar
Cody
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Program to study Abroad with

This was a great trip. If you like to drink than the island of Florianopolis is the place to be. There are many bars and clubs if you like the night life. During the day on the other hand, has lots of options from going on hikes to enjoying the sun on the beach. The locals on this island are very nice and it is a relative safe place in Brazil. You will fit in on the island of Florianopolis if you're a white american, most individuals are mixed with European decent. The staying arrangements were more than great, i had a large bed and im a relatively big human. The director of the USAC program is the man, he will guide you with any assistance you need to get on your way. The other participants of the program made it a great time too. Even though we didn't know each other from the beginning, we bonded and by the end of the program left as best friends. The food is absolutly amazing, those Brazilians really put something else in their food.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I got to see penguins, monkeys, whales, seals, and much more wildlife
Default avatar
Cameron
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Country, Awesome Program, Awesome Semester

I highly, highly recommend USAC Florianopolis to any student interested in an awesome study abroad experience. Brazil is a rich, beautiful country, and many Brazilians consider Florianopolis (Floripa) the jewel of Brazil. I cannot say enough good things about the locals from Floripa, who proudly refer to themselves as manezinhos. Manezinhos epitomize the open, laid-back attitude of the Brazilian people. Many Brazilians love gringos who immerse themselves in their unique culture and Portuguese language.

USAC Floripa is comparatively cheap to many study abroad programs I researched, but it still offers loads of trips, island tours, and student support through language partners and a really amazing staff. During the Fall semester, USAC students traveled to Iguazu falls. In the Spring, we went on a weekish-long tour of Minas Gerais before the program officially started. This trip was completely planned and organized by USAC and was a great introduction to the country before we were let loose in Floripa. There were a number of fun group hikes and trips once we were on the island of Floripa, but I think the best experiences come to those that use USAC's resources to plan their own spontaneous hikes and beach trips (Check out lagoinha do leste, nofragados, and as many of the 43 beaches as you can!).

USAC offers a variety of classes taught in English, and you can also enroll in classes at UFSC, the local university next-door to the USAC office. This program is good for students from a lot of backgrounds, including natural resources, business, global economy, arts, etc. My semester even had some engineers and pre-med students that finished their gen ed requirements in Brazil, so check the USAC website for course offerings! Personally, I had classes in natural resources management, wildlife conservation, surfing, Brazilian cuisine, capoeira, and intro Portuguese I and II. During the first 5 weeks of the program every student only attends an immersive Portuguese class. After this, you have the choice to keep taking Portuguese classes, but I highly recommend learning as much as you can while you're here. You can go the entire semester only speaking English and partying your butt off if you want, but in my experience it's worth immersing yourself as much in the language and culture as you can. A motivated student can reach fluency or near-fluency in their time here, but a high accessibility for English speakers means this might not be the best fit for Portuguese learners that require an extremely strict environment/regiment to keep themselves on tract. Classes are intellectually engaging most of the time (every class has its ups and downs) and look GOOD on your transcript. My professors were all extremely passionate and inspired me intellectually and creatively. They understand much of your learning takes place outside of the classroom, so your classes will probably look a lot harder on your transcript than they actually are workload wise. Take all of the 1 credit classes (surfing, cuisine, capoeira) that you can because they're extremely fun and easy (meet once a week), and you'll learn about Brazilian culture while making friends with some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Admittedly, I studied in Floripa in Spring '18, before a Brazilian election cycle marked by racism, sexism, and homophobia. Brazil is certainly far from perfect, but I still think Floripa represents a very accepting community for women and members of the LGBTQ community that want to safely experience the country, but are alarmed at the problematic rhetoric of the Bolsonaro government (many Brazilians told me Floripa is among the gayest Brazilian cities and there is a large, generally accepting college community). Like any big city, Floripa has its dangerous areas, but you can tell your family that it is considered the safest city in Brazil. I ignorantly walked home alone many nights and was lucky enough to avoid any really bad incidents, but bad people do exist and bad things do (and did) happen so you should always be careful knowing where you are and walking in groups through campus, the city, or wherever.

You have a number of housing options through USAC: single or double room in an apartment with other Americans or Brazilians, or a homestay. I requested to live in a single so I could have more independence. Homestays are a good idea if you're focused on language acquisition, but opt for an apartment if you want greater independence and privacy. I think I got really lucky with my apartment location and roommates because I got to live with Americans and Brazilians near the USAC office and UFSC campus. The location and independence of my apartment facilitated my social life and bonding with other students living nearby, but I did not pick up Portuguese as easily as friends living in homestays. Some friends of mine had less than stellar experiences with their housing or lived far distances away. Still, it is daunting to set up your own housing so it is probably easier to roll the dice, go with USAC housing, and attempt a switch if it's a bad fit. Year-long students can rest assured that they can change their housing their second semester to find some more obscure, cool housing options. If I live in Floripa again, I intend to look for housing outside the city so I can be nearer the beaches and trails of the island.

All in all, Florianopolis is an extremely fun city to live in. The island has a really cool mixture of city life and rural feel with clubs, bars, beaches, hikes, and soccer teams. This experience can really be whatever you make of it. You can immerse yourself in a rich culture while learning a beautiful language and meeting a diverse mixture of people or you can take a single Portuguese class and spend the rest of your semester tanning on the beach and partying with your American classmates. I recommend finding your balance to enjoy Floripa for all it's worth. You're going to make great friends with your USAC classmates. Build and cherish these friendships, but also take some chances and step outside the USAC comfort zone to meet people from more varied backgrounds. Take chances together, step outside your comfort zone, make travel plans around Brazil, learn the language, make some friends, and learn a lot! Study with USAC Floripa and you'll have a semester of self-discovery, fun, and fulfillment.

What would you improve about this program?
Make the housing assignment process more timely and transparent. Encourage students to immerse themselves in Brazilian circles a little bit more. Update trail maps and directions. Build a greater connection with UFSC clubs and events, especially Brazilian LGBTQ communities and other support groups.
Default avatar
Kylie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Time and a Half

Studying abroad is an eye opening experience. I gained new knowledge and learned how to live in a different country all on my own. I gained personal growth experience more than I would have ever imagined that I would. I stayed with a host family and was able to learn the language easier than just taking a class. Being surrounded by a different language 100% of the time really helped me with the learning process. I went to Brazil knowing zero Portuguese and left being able to hold multiple conversations.

Default avatar
Sophia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision Ive made

I knew I wanted to study abroad from the moment I went to college. By the time I reached my junior year i finally decided to do it! I wanted to go somewhere that would push me out of my comfort zone. Somewhere where I didn't know the language, so id pay attention. Somewhere where the customs were different from my own, so Id open my eyes. Somewhere where I could fully immerse myself into a world I didn't know much about. Florianopolis, Brazil was just that. In my time there I made friends that will last me a lifetime, learned a new language, enriched myself in Brazilian culture, ate the best food i've ever had, and made memories that i will never forget. If I could back and do it again, id do it in a heartbeat. USAC crafted a perfect program to support us throughout our time there without being overly involved, and It was nothing short of perfect. I still talk to my program director even to this day, and he even made a visit to San Francisco and saw us! I loved every second of it and would recommend to anyone thinking of going through USAC to Florianopolis Brazil to give it a go. Even if it wasn't initially your first choice, I promise you wont regret it!

Default avatar
Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Living the Magical Island Life

I studied in Florianópolis for the 2016 Spring Semester with USAC. It was my first time living abroad and it was the best experience I could have asked for.

The Location: Florianópolis is a BEAUTIFUL island. The lush, green mountains surrounded by 42 beaches on the island took my breath away every day of the semester. There was never a chance to be bored; every day after class we would head to the beach or to the lagoon in the middle of the island. There was always an event, beach, or cultural experience to enjoy. Brazil is truly a magical, beautiful place.

The Housing: I had the best host family experience ever here. I lived with an older couple and their nephews who studied at the university. They were extremely welcoming and I spent every day with my host family; they made my study abroad experience that much greater. I was able to become very proficient in Portuguese because it was such an immersive experience. I still talk to them often and cannot wait to visit.

The School: We studied at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. I loved the campus! Once school started for the Brazilians, there were always a ton of students and events on campus. USAC offered a large variety of classes, with many in Political Science, Economics, Environmental Studies, etc. I also took Brazilian Cuisine and Surfing which were a blast!

Overall, Brazil is one of my favorite countries on Earth. The culture is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have lived abroad a few times since my semester here, and I can honestly say that USAC Florianópolis offered the most immersive experience I have seen so far. Brazilians are just so welcoming and friendly that it would almost be impossible to not find yourself loving this wonderful country.

Default avatar
John
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall worth it but important to note a few things to see if it's for you

Ok this review is going to be very blunt and honest. I'm not going to try and sound a certain way in order to fit in and to stroke my ego like in most other reviews. First I'll talk a little about the program, then the city, and finally the people. All names in the review are fictional.

A little about the program:
I studied abroad there in 2015. Overall it was a great experience, but it could've been a bad choice if I didn't do things my own way, fortunately I did. Studying abroad anywhere is a great investment, and you will learn a lot. When I was there, USAC Floripa was pretty new so there was still a lot of things that needed worked out in their system. They had some woman as their housing coordinator who wasn't very good and caused some problems (thankfully she doesn't work there anymore). The program does a decent job of accommodating you and making you feel comfortable, but in some ways this overextension of accommodation kind of makes you feel like a child, and creates an environment where americans only communicate with americans. It's human nature, but I found it amusing how much Jane Doe and Ashley thought they were being cultural, outgoing, and independent, but in reality did 90% of things in their little nucleus of american friends and were absolutely terrified of being truly independent and assimilating into the culture. If you go, think about how you want your experience to be and do what you want; don't feel pressured to fit into the USAC clique just to fit in, because once you leave you probably won't see 95% of these people ever again. Aside from a couple of good professors, the classes were a joke and really hands on. Expect a lot of presentations and busy work, expect classes to begin at the crack of dawn, and expect to walk to class everyday or take a bus, it could take you 15 to 35 minutes depending on where you live, so be prepared to walk a lot and plan ahead for your classes, because they are all super strict on attendance.

The city:
Florianopolis is a great city. It has to be the most versatile city in Brazil; it has the amenities of a big city with the safety and beauty of a smaller city. If you like beaches, hikes, and nature in general you will love it there. Also, if you like amazing parties and beautiful people you will love it there. If you're a straight male, you will fall in love with the city, and be in heaven. The local girls are sweethearts and on average gorgeous. You will see a massive difference between the local girls and the low maintenance american girls in your program. To all guys reading this: if I could give you advice please don't get sucked into the USAC games and try to put yourself out there and meet some local women (and make some Brazilian friends OUTSIDE of USAC). Go to the parties by yourself or with a couple of other like minded buddies and just have a blast, it will literally be the funnest times of your life. As far as getting girls goes there is more opportunity in Floripa than any city in the U.S by far. At the university you will be attending, they have these HUGE parties bi-weekly that have free alcohol and tons of girls. Generally when you go out there will be more girls than guys, and on average they are all gorgeous. But, that doesn't mean that it will be easy. Along with being super beautiful the local girls are also well educated, have a lot of respect for themselves, and have close tight-nit families; they don't need some random gringo guy that is only there for a couple of months and doesn't speak their language or understand anything about their culture. Do as best as you can to learn the language and a bit about the social culture before you go so you can fit in with the locals, it will go a looooong way, and you will regret it if you don't learn some of each. Expect to be aggressive and take the lead when you go out with girls, gender roles are more polarized in Brazil; men are men and women are women. I can't tell you how many american guys in the program were way to passive with the local women and literally didn't date around the entire time they were there, this is pathetic, don't be that guy. Brazilian girls there are used to and like it when a guy takes the lead, so don't be afraid.

The locals:
I have read in numerous articles how the locals of Florianopolis are the friendliest in Brazil, in my opinion and the opinions of several other americans, this is total garbage. The majority of locals are some of the most arrogant people that you will encounter in Brazil. They are the elite of Brazil, and generally view the rest of the Brazil as being a totally different country compared to 'their south'. The majority also hate Brazil and will look at you like you are crazy for visiting their country. In general, don't expect to be treated like royalty just because you are American, and in some cases expect to get treated rudely. People here see a lot of tourists and will not hold you to a higher regard just because you are foreign. Although all of this is true, there also exists a lot of really nice down to earth people that live there, so don't let this scare you. They are arrogant by Brazil standards, which means they are still cool. Once you meet some cariocas (people from Rio) you'll see what I am talking about. I found it super interesting how much the locals despise Brazil and talk about how it's a shit hole. The locals love everything about America and american music, movies, and entertainment, but once they actually meet an American exchange student the majority of them seem a bit distant and cold at times; they treat you like you are some sort of alien that they can't relate with so there is no point in trying. In general there are two kinds of people on the island: people who are open to meeting exchange students and being friends with them, and people who for whatever reason will not give you a chance just because you are foreign, don't take it personal and find the ones who are open. Think about it like this: at your home university in the U.S, do the coolest people hangout with the foreign exchange students that they can barely even communicate with? No they don't, in fact, they will probably feel like losers if they hangout with the exchange students; people will judge them. Same concept in Brazil. USAC provides local Brazilian language exchange partners from UFSC, but the majority of them are a bit dorky. My advice: learning the language as best as you can before you come completely changes this, and opens up a whole other demographic of locals to hangout with. Do yourself an immense favor and learn as much as you can before you come, put yourself out there as much as you can, and be as social as possible.

Final verdict:

If you want to live a versatile lifestyle where you hike amazing trails, visit deserted beaches, and party at some of the best venues in the world with the hottest girls, I'd say go. For the money, USAC does a pretty decent job, but check other programs such as ISA to see if they are a fit for you. Overall the city can get a bit bland and boring by Brazil's standards for a couple of months out of the year (May-September). Since it is a small city, it can get a little bit cliquey at times (a lot of people know each other), but it shouldn't be an issue for a temporary stay. Best time to go would be spring semester, but if you go in the fall you will also have a blast. Both Fall and Spring semester have their pros and cons: Spring semester is super oversaturated with tourists, but it is when the best events are, fall semester is laid back with only locals, but it can get a little quiet on some weekends. Overall the Spring semester will be their summertime and the weather will be the nicest. Don't be a pandering little yes man like most of the kids that attend the program; do your own thing and live your own experience. Don't let Carly the chubby, boisterous American girl suck you into her awkward drama. Do as best as you can to meet your own people and do your own thing outside of USAC.

What would you improve about this program?
Stop trying to make the classes so hands on, and try as best as you can to promote an independent student lifestyle for the kids in the program. It's nice that in study abroad programs the students develop strong bonds with one another, but at the same time I think it holds them back from assimilating into the local culture. It's nice that you provide students with opportunities to take dance classes and such, but the classes are mainly for USAC students. Encourage the kids to go out their and find their own things, this is the essence of studying broad and will provide the best experiences. Oh and another thing, the students should NOT be forced to take an intensive portuguese class at the beginning of the semester that counts as a credit toward their transcript. They should at least have the option to audit the class.