Academic Year in Brazil = Done

After one final, hectic round of tests, my third year, and academic year abroad, are done. At my university, Fundacao Getulio Vargas, the exam season was marked with the same signs: students sleeping in the libraries, coffee consumption skyrocketing, and the worried looks on faces. But just like every year, we all manage to get through it in the end.
This exam season was a bit different for me, however. Of the 4 exams I took, 2 were in Portuguese. When I first arrived in Brazil, I never even imagined that I would be able to do the high-pressure exams in Portuguese. And they were tough, don’t get me wrong. But in the end, I completed them (and am now awaiting my test scores…)
With the exams ending, most of my exchange-student friends are leaving. Some are heading straight home, others heading to far off places in South America to travel. Now that we are on vacation, more travel ensues. Despite the diverse end locations, I noticed a commonality between all of those leaving, which is a commonly held affection for São Paulo. For a city like Buenos Aires, or New York, or Paris, I can understand this attachment after so little time, but São Paulo?
When I first arrived here, all São Paulo felt like was a huge, at times austere concrete jungle. Arranha-ceus, or skyscrapers, dominate the landscape, like huge, concrete blocks dropped throughout the city. Not exactly stunning.
But as the months pass by, São Paulo grows on you. The wild orchids growing in trees above your head. The small alleyways hiding excellent restaurants. And the dizzying array of culture, food, and people is impressive. São Paulo is not a tourist’s city, because so much of what is great is hard to find. For such a huge city, the best things are in the small details.
-Alex Wolz

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