Category Archives: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Students studying at FGV

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

How I Hacked Portuguese

One I first arrived in Brazil, I spoke, at best, 10 words of Portuguese. Sure, I spoke a bit of Spanish, but Portuguese, the language of Brazil, Portugal, and a sprinkling of African countries, is quite different from its next closest cousin.

One I first arrived in Brazil, I spoke, at best, 10 words of Portuguese.

Fast forward to today, May 12, and I am mostly fluent. I still struggle with complex grammar, masculine and feminine (why does this exist!), and some pronunciation. But the key is that I speak without needing to think beforehand; I can convey what I feel or want, and, best of all, I understand jokes and ‘girias’ (slang).

Life as an Intern in Brazil

Several weeks ago, I was in one of my classes at Fundação Getulio Vargas, and a small business consultancy came and hosted a ‘How to Pitch 101’ session. It was an engaging pitch that included episodes of SharkTank, and even some impromptu pitches from members of the class. I was impressed with the presentation, and the company seemed like a cool, exciting place.

A few interviews later, I start working at 7bi, the company, as an Operations intern. My job title is intentionally broad; in just three weeks, I have developed proposals for clients, dabbled in graphic design, and created my own business concept. For me, it has been the perfect startup experience; lots of different roles, fast-paced work, and a relaxed environment.

Easter in Brazil

The week before Easter, Semana Santa, I ended up in one of the most amazing, breathtaking processions I could have imagined. But first, how I got there.

 

I was spending 4 days in the state of Minas Gerais, which is situated to the Northeast of Sao Paulo. It is one of many people’s favorite states in Brazil, and I can see why. Our bus ride through the state offered countless picturesque pastoral settings, the setting of artisanal craftsmen doling out gourmet cheese, doce de leite, and large dairies supplying the freshest milk in Brazil. Mention about authenticity, gourmet, or verdant, and Minas Gerais comes to mind.

One Month Abroad in Sao Paulo

One Month Abroad in Sao

Nossa! My favorite Portuguese word, by far, is Nossa, an appropriate word to describe my first month here in Brazil; Wow. Despite moments of culture shock, whether it was from the relentless stream of traffic, the seemingly endless waves of skyscrapers, and the overload of smells and colors of bakeries, restaurants, and street performers that encounter you on a walk through the city center, I feel very much at home. Being a member of a Brazilian host family certainly helps, but so does the friendliness of strangers and the encouraging words people share when they hear my mumbling out broken Portuguese. Yes, I like Brazil a lot, my response to the most common question I get when people find out I am a foreigner. Brazilians really care about their country, and they want non-Brazilians to feel that same love of sleepy Saturday mornings spent enjoying feijoada, the steady beat of samba music that never ceases during the festival of Carnaval, and the strong kick of Brazilian espresso in the morning.

One Month in Brazil

One Month Abroad in Sao Paulo

Nossa! My favorite Portuguese word, by far, is Nossa, an appropriate word to describe my first month here in Brazil; Wow. Despite moments of culture shock, whether it was from the relentless stream of traffic, the seemingly endless waves of skyscrapers, and the overload of smells and colors of bakeries, restaurants, and street performers that encounter you on a walk through the city center, I feel very much at home. Being a member of a Brazilian host family certainly helps, but so does the friendliness of strangers and the encouraging words people share when they hear my mumbling out broken Portuguese. Yes, I like Brazil a lot, my response to the most common question I get when people find out I am a foreigner. Brazilians really care about their country, and they want non-Brazilians to feel that same love of sleepy Saturday mornings spent enjoying feijoada, the steady beat of samba music that never ceases during the festival of Carnaval, and the strong kick of Brazilian espresso in the morning.

My First Week Abroad in Brazil

Any many students at UVA will attest, the optimal place for a delicious, quick bite to eat is Bodos bagels. It’s fast, tasty, and fairly priced. For me, the appeal, even efficiency, of a quick bagel lunch was an ever-present temptation. Given these traits, it would seem surprising to people that in São Paulo, what constitutes a good eating spot is totally different.

 

Countdown to Brazil!

 

 

 

 

 

It is often said that the journey is more important than the destination. If I’ve come to realize anything in the past few weeks while preparing to go to Brazil, it is that this statement holds truth. My escapades for getting a Visa and understanding Brazilian culture have given me just a taste of the rich, complex cultural experience of studying in São Paulo, Brazil.