Looking Back on Last Year (Part II)

A little late in the night but, as promised, part 2 of my Looking Back post!
On my previous post, I talked about the first half of last year, and my favourite highlights from it. On this post I talk about the second half of the year, reflecting on how that was.



Once summer had begun, next up in terms of travelling was Brazil. I would say this was probably my biggest highlight of 2017. Brazil is a country I have always wanted to go to, so you can imagine I jumped at the opportunity to do so when it came around. How does one even come across this opportunity you ask? Well, luckily, I got accepted onto the Brazilian Business and Culture Summer Programme here at the University of Surrey. Surrey has quite a few options for summer schools for those who would like to do them. I had originally wanted to apply for one in Amsterdam but once I saw there was one being held in Brazil there was no doubt in my mind that that’s what I wanted to do. The programme was a 3-week summer school at the University of São Paulo mostly on Brazilian Culture and Business. What I liked about this particular course was that not only was it in Brazil, but it had so much travelling involved in it that was inclusive in the cost. During the course we stayed at the University’s campus in Ribeirão Preto, but had overnight stays to Brasilia and São Paulo, as well as several day trips to different places  and towns around the campus. We also, then, organised our own week-long trip to Rio at the end of the course – because obviously you can’t go to Brazil without going to Rio. Another thing I quite liked was that, even though we were there for a summer school, classes were done by 2 c’clock, after which we had ample time to explore the city we were in – while on the overnight trips there was no classes at all, and it was all about enjoying the sights and culture. To put the cherry on top of this massive cake, I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship for the programme, and so I got to do all this for free! All I had to do was pay for my flights and spending money and just pretty much show up at the airport.
Looking back, I’m immensely grateful to Surrey for providing me with this opportunity. In as much as I have always wanted to go to Brazil, it would have undoubtedly taken me a lot longer and a lot more effort had I planned on doing it on my own – unlike Berlin, Brazil isn’t quite a trip you can just spontaneously embark on.

The view from our hotel room in Brasilia





We visited a couple of stadiums during our stay, and also a football museum because, obviously, Brazil


A short cable car ride gets you to the top of sugar loaf mountain, for incredible views of the city


The beach by Sugarloaf mountain – aptly named sugar beach – has scenery that looks like it was plucked right out of Moana

Hang gliding!


Flamengo beach – one of the many beaches I got to visit during our time in Rio

Our flights between London and Rio had a 12 hour layover in New York, which meant we also go to have a mini holiday within our holiday, and stuff two adventures into one



Again, there’s a million more photos I could show you of this trip – these don’t even begin to describe it – but I’ll save you the time and allow you to use your imagination!


That summer I also worked briefly for a language school in Oxford, which allowed me to travel around to different cities in the UK. After a long and exciting summer, it was then back home for the first time in about 8 months. Come September, and time to start second year, I was more than ready to hit the ground running. I had done pretty well academically in first year, but it was still a daunting concept at the beginning of the year to think that this year actually counts. I started to mentally prepare myself for an increase in workload and the inevitable influx of assignments. For the most part it went pretty well. As predicted, I did have loads of work to do, but I managed it and I’d like to think my academic skills grew with it.


December 2017 marked the month I can count as having cooked my first traditional (British) Christmas dinner. My housemate and I spent basically the entire day cooking a meal, only for it to be devoured in about 20 minutes. We then spent the rest of the night playing games and opening presents in our overly decorated house, generally just having a good laugh. It was the perfect end to my time at university for the year, and the perfect prelude to spending the holidays at home with family.



To bring this long post to an end, I am extremely proud of the year I had last year. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. I hope to keep the momentum going, and have 2018 also be a year of immense growth and exciting escapades. To those reading I hope the same.

All my best,

Ciku x.