Bom Dia Brazil!
Have you ever thought of being abroad whilst being abroad? It exactly what I felt the past one month in University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo in Brazil as a summer school program in partnership with University of Surrey. I missed the deadline to apply to a semester exchange in second year so when I found out that Santander’s grant to fund Surrey students to different partnered universities in the world for a short summer course, I told myself : ‘this is my chance, and I just couldn’t miss it’. And right after I found out about the news via an email from faculty, I prepared my applications, asked my personal tutor for a recommended letter and put all my heart to the application form with a hope that I would be lucky enough to get the 1k grant. And Wonderful things happen here, it did! I was so happy finding out I got the grant. To an international student like me, paying 15k+ Grant annually is a lot and never thought of the costly summer school overseas but since I got it, why not give it a go.
Before coming to Brazil, I barely knew this country apart from Káká, the handsome football player or Ronaldo, Sampa and Cristo Redentor or just coffee producing nation (since its one of Vietnamese competitors in coffee production!). The 3 week course was thoroughly revised and prepared to make sure our time in Brazil enjoyable and full of knowledge as well.
We had chance to learn Portuguese – it was pretty challenging but as a language lover like myself, Portuguese class was my favourite. The lessons were really interesting and full of creative activities like singing, sampa dancing, and I am sure that Portuguese is now one of the languages I want to learn. The lessons also helped us to do some basic conversations with the uni staff such as our housekeepers or security guide and we managed to do some bargains and call the taxi (with the help of our fellow Spanish and Portuguese friends too!)
Prior to our arrival, I read some news about Brazil and found out that the politics were in a messy situation and sometimes there were protests but University of São Paulo made sure we lived in the heart of campus!. Our accommodation were only a few steps from the security and just few blocks away from our main campus of Faculty of Business and Economics – where all of our lectures were based!
In terms of study, the course was really informative. We had different lectures on Brazilian agriculture, culture, history, law and politics as well as its economy. Apart from that, there were also company visits to Sugarcane, pharmacy and Coffee Bean factories to support the lecture based study. We had opportunities to meet the industry people and got to know their daily basis work and an insight into the industry and I was totally amazed!
The classroom were not only filled by Surrey students but also some Brazilian students that helped us to get to know more about a different side of student life out side classrooms but also how their parties were but also their normal lives. There are some similarities but also differences to what we have here in Surrey. We also had opportunities to meet other exchange students from different parts of the world who came to USP as well. So it was really a fun experience mingling to different nations! I didn’t meet any Brazilians during my time in Surrey but I gotta say the summer school experience confirmed me that Brazilians are one of the happiest and most cheerful human on earth you’d ever meet! The International Team – a group of Students doing voluntary work within USP helped us a lot to understand about Brazilian culture and fit in the new environment by bringing us to different places in town and bringing us food and bringing us to their parties too!
As a person who doesn’t eat meat, I must have found it difficult to find my source of food in a meat eating nation like Brazil, but it to be honest wasn’t hard for me at all. They really love cheese, sometimes it was a lil bit too cheesy but I gotta say I somehow miss it now! Brazil also has a very fun way of service such as the ‘pay by kilos’ buffet that I am sure will make you be more concerned about the calories and the waste of food you put to your plate otherwise you would end up paying a lot for a meal!
What impresses me about the student life in Brazil is about their cafeterias they’ve got on campus, each faculty offers their own cafeteria and it’s pretty affordable with very good food! On the plus side, there is a main canteen for everyone with just only 2 reals – like less than 20 pennies for a meal and you eat as much as you want to! It’s just so different from how expensive we eat out here on campus in Surrey isn’t it! Another good thing is we got free breakies every day (except weekend – and it’s nutritious and damn delish!)
Ribeirao Preto is where the summer program took place but it didn’t mean we were stuck there 24/7. We were brought to visit Brasillia – its capital and São Paulo during weekend and afterwards we also stay for an extra 1 week to arrange a trip to Rio ourselves.
There are so many things that I would like to put all in an entry but I guess there summer school wouldn’t be a success without the people stay behind the scene who prepared it and made sure the whole time safe and sound and made it an enjoyable and fun trip and also the people I met on the road that made the trip a memorable one!
I feel thankful first of all to Surrey International Officers like Aqila and Santanders who did their best providing all the information we needed and put us into contact to USP’s side. And second of all to all University of São Paulo’s International Officers such as Leo, Herbert, Dani – our Portuguese teacher or Professor Jõao – head of Summer School who were not only very professional and hospitable but also being great friends to us during our time in Brazil and always made sure we had what we wanted and the stay were secure, safe and fun at its best.
Finally, I am so happy still and cannot believe the one month in Brazil has passed! I feel totally blessed with our group from Surrey. This was the opportunity to get to know other students from other courses too. Though there were only 12 of us in the end, we were a good mixed of degrees and I believe we got on well despite the fact that we were all different. Everyday was full of laughters and surprises too since we lived together (But let keep what happened in Brazil stay in Brazil for now haha!)
Here is a short clip that I made during our trip in Brazil. I will put some photos at the end too 🙂
And if you ever come across this post. Please make sure when you are first or second year student, do APPLY to one of the summer school as It’s definitely worth it! Guess what you brought home in the end was not the Coxuppe Coffee bean or Havaianas flip flops but the new friendship to bring home! (And I really hope that it would last for a life time :-))