Elizabeth, a Chemical Engineering major, studied abroad in São Paulo, Brazil during Summer 2018.
IF NOTHING ELSE, DON’T FORGET TO PACK: A battery pack, a water bottle, a good pair of shoes, and a rain coat. These three items will get you through any adventure! (As well as your travel documents and extra cash, obviously…)
ON SECOND THOUGHT, YOU CAN LEAVE AT HOME: Any worries, stress, or anxieties you may have. Any trip should be thought of as a new adventure for you to learn about yourself, learn about others, and have the absolute most fun! Trip to look at everything with an open mind and fresh eyes. (Also, just pack lightly – who knows how much you’ll have to lug around your big suitcase.)
WHERE TO LIVE: We stayed in a hostel and it was a much better experience than staying in a hotel in downtown Sao Paulo! You can stay in a big hotel that may look very similar to one in the states, but staying in a hostel (or something similar) will give you a much more immersive experience. And that’s what you’re there for, right!?
BEST PLACES TO EAT: “That Empanada Place.” Honestly, I have no idea what this place was called (and I even tried Google Maps-ing it.) Moral of the story: try little places that look interesting – they can be such gems! We all walked into this place, which was owned by a woman and her family and they had the BEST empanadas. By the end of the two weeks we had been there a few times, and she even invited our group to have special dessert empanadas!
FAVORITE CULTURAL ACTIVITY: I loved the dancing lessons we had at the hostel. I am by no means a dancer, but it was so fun to hop out of my comfort zone and try something new! Our group shared lots of laughs as the instructor said “it’s easy – just watch,” which was followed by us trying to do the spins and crashing into each other. Definitely one of my favorite moments of the trip!
BEST PERSONAL HIDEOUT: My study abroad group of 11 students was ~literally~ inseparable. Given it was a short trip, we all wanted to take advantage of exploring and being with friends as much as we could! No hideouts needed! <3
MUST-TRY LOCAL DISH: ALL. THE. AMAZING. FRUITS.
BEST PHOTO OP: The gorgeous beach in Ubatuba. (But really anywhere – who knows when you’ll be back??)
BEST PURCHASE: Leather bracelet from an art market. I wore the bracelet the duration of the trip, so every time I look down and see it, I am flooded with the happy memories that it holds!
MOST INTERESTING CLASS: The most interesting component of our project time, class-wise, was the co-creation session that we had. This session was designed to facilitate brainstorming for the process development and facilitate constructive collaboration between the different project groups. The most interesting part of this session was the group decision to revamp the project to combine the brains of 22 engineering students to create a more detailed solution, instead of creating 5 different solutions in smaller groups.
BEST PART OF THE PROGRAM: I love how quickly everyone on the trip became such great friends. Come the second night, we all were staying up way too late talking, given how early we had to be up. We all bonded so quickly, making all experiences that much more memorable! It’s one thing to experience something with other people, but it’s another to experience something with friends.
MOST MEMORABLE TRIP: The final few days in Ubatuba were amazing. I really got to see how close our whole group became and it made me appreciate every second I got to spend with all of these amazing people. A big group of us walked to the beach before we left for the airport and we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t get all sandy/ocean-y, but we couldn’t pass up the offer and I ended up walking through the ocean in my jeans. We all climbed some rocks and took some final pictures with the beautiful mountains in the background, and I can’t do anything but smile when I look back at them.
FAVORITE LOCAL WORD/SLANG: 🤙🤙🤙
IF I COULD DO IT OVER AGAIN… I would stay longer!!! I loved the opportunity to study abroad for two weeks, but if I could go back, I would stay longer (or do a longer program) in a heartbeat! Brazil DEFINITELY stole my heart.