Director's Advice

Sao Paulo Travel Blog

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I mainly did this blog by city. First, I’ll start with Buenos Aires. I thought BA was perfect the way it was done. The amount of time was great and I really enjoyed our living arrangements. There were free computers, good food, and most importantly, Argentines to talk to. That really makes you feel more a part of the city; that allows you to have a better experience. I also thought that they university was great. Gabriel is excellent. The long weekend was perfect. The one thing that I would majorly change is the class time. Have a few classes early and a few classes later to give the students time to explore the city during the best parts of the day. Encourage them to use this time wisely. I would also consider giving them a list with the “10 Best Things to do in BA” compiled from the information we told you in the other blog on Argentina. Then they’ll be more inclined to get out and explore the city since they will know where to start. Buenos Aires has so much stuff and we’re only there for a month. You don’t want them to waste their time on something not worthwhile. Specifically to the amount of class time that we had, I think it was fine. It’s good to have more class in BA and more site visits in Brazil. I would recommend having the big business plan before you leave BA. I’ll talk more about this later.

I would like to propose a new Brazil Route Plan. It’s not completely finished since I can’t give any advice on Paraty or Rio, but I’ll just guess what Paraty and Rio will be like. Here is the new route: Buenos Aires to Iguazu (flight), Iguazu to Floripa (bus), Floripa to Curitiba (bus), Curitiba to Sao Paulo (bus), Sao Paulo to Paraty (bus), Paraty to Rio (bus). Here is the breakdown of time in each city: Iguazu (3 days), Floripa (7 days), Curitiba (7 days), Sao Paulo (7 days), Paraty (3 days), Rio (7 days). Then there would be a total of 4 weeks in BA and 5 weeks in Brazil.

Iguazu: Paraguay is a must. Try to chosoe a dry day if possible! The tour through the falls is also a must. It really brought us together and it will be a great scenery change from BA. Use this trip as a vacation for the students.

Floripa: I think 10 hours of Portuguese is fine. Have them focus only on basic phrases we will need and words for food. It would have been much more helpful to go over the basic verbs too (want, need, have, to go, etc.). I have a different proposal for class time. I think you should have “flexible class”. Since the weather is unpredictable, schedule class according to the weather. After Portuguese class in the morning, decide how it looks outside and whether it should be class time or beach time. Do not go to the university. Have classes that you teach, Jeff Cason teaches, or Felipe teaches. Have them at the theater by the language school. Give the students 4 good days off and teach the other days. So try to plan it where you travel from Iguazu on a Sunday, then start Monday-Friday with Portuguese class in the morning. If you have great weather those first 4 days (Monday-Thursday) then let that be their time off. If the next 3 days are great too, oh well you still have to have class. Hopefully that makes sense, but if not just ask me. Jack Cason was amazing. Hopefully you can get him again next year. The tour around the island was nice, but the only reasonable things for the students to do are hiking and beach time. I would give the students directions for the good beaches and where good hiking is and let them run with it.

Curitiba: Have 1 final at the end of this week. As for the site visits, definitely keep Volvo. I didn’t get to attend much of the Curitiba SA presentation since we were getting our Visas. I would not go to FIEP. I would rather have a lecture on it from your personal point of view. During the whole thing, I felt kinda like he was just selling Curitiba to us. I didn’t understand what FIEP was until Hannah asked at the very end. It was a big waste of time in my opinion. Give them a good reading and a lecture. Same with Tecpar. I felt like it was a waste of time. It would have been just as good if you had given us a lecture on it hitting the main points. Again, a good reading and a lecture. We had way to much class time/site visits this year. For me, I felt like Curitiba was a huge waste of time because all I had time to do was sit in the hotel and study. It’s not like I didn’t do any reading in Floripa or Iguazu so I had a lot to catch up on in Curitiba. I finished the big Curitiba packet and the Futebol packet before even arriving in Curitiba. What took up all of my time was studying for both finals (because we had so much information from a month before) and doing all of those blogs. It took up so much time. Curitiba is a huge tourist city so let the students go see the cool stuff. Especially after reading that long packet, you want to be able to see and experience the things you just read about. But you have to give us more time! The mandatory tour around the city was a great idea.

Sao Paulo: Have 1 final in the middle of the week. I think you should incorporate some social volunteer work into the week. Spend a day actually helping the people with different volunteer work. If we do this alongside Brazilians, this will help them open up to us. It will be more personal. Since we’re studying social problems anyway, this would be an excellent hands-on activity. The students definitely have to go to MST and a favela. Jeff is a great guide. He’s very smart and willing to help us learn as much as possible. The half days are amazing! Full days kill us (like in Curitiba) because we’re so tired when we get back, we end up sleeping all afternoon and getting no work done. When we have finals, this is very bad. Give the students a free day after the final (on a Saturday or something) so they can explore the city. Sao Paulo is really Brazil. We want to see the real Brazil, not the touristy beach towns.

Paraty and Rio: Haven’t been yet, but I’ll let you know… I do think you should have the last final in the middle of the week that you are in Rio.

Some general stuff: Felipe is amazing. Possibly consider bringing a business professor along for the business class (s). Bringing the Argentines to Brazil is also a must. They are very smart, helpful, and fun. I know this completely goes against your personality and philosophy of life, but it would be amazing if you could give the students a more detailed schedule ahead of time (as in at least 1 week before). Also, I know the students without computers would really appreciate hard copy schedules. Speaking of computers, tell the students to bring them if they have one or try to find a way to borrow one for the summer or something. The people who didn’t have a computer were always having issues. Not that the people with computers didn’t want to share, it’s just difficult finding someone who isn’t using theirs or finding a good time to borrow someone else’s. Be more specific with splitting up the classes with the lectures. I know they overlap, but it’s very difficult when it comes time to study to figure out which topics go with which class. Try to title the lectures with the appropriate class (or classes and tell which info can be applied to whichever class and how it is applied, etc.). You should also tell the students to take notes on the videos and site visits with Gabriel. Those ended up being more important than what you originally told us. Those soccer videos were really good.

About the blogs: they are a good idea in BA because we all have easy access to computers. I think 3 individual blogs a week is good. I always felt like I was scrounging for something to write about on the last one. Group blogs are a good idea. In Brazil, blog directions should change. We don’t really have good cultural experiences until the end in Sao Paulo and Rio. It’s really difficult to get groups together because our schedules are always changing with site visits and class time changing. Since computers are scarce and not everyone has one, it makes it difficult for the entire group to contribute evenly. Here is my advice: decrease the number of individual blogs to 1 blog a week in Brazil. For group blogs, alternate weeks for both group blogs so you only have 1 group blog a week. Another huge problem was always changing the time when they were due. You have to keep a constant and regular schedule for these. It’s not fair to the people who bust their butt to get theirs finished and then you change it at the last minute for the people who didn’t manage their time wisely and started complaining. I would suggest having them due every Monday or on some set day. Whether there are more readings that week or a final, the students should know how to manage their time to get their work done. By balancing out the number of individual and group blogs, I think this will make it completely feasible on the student to get their work done.

Business Plan: As I was saying earlier, there is not enough time to do blogs, study for finals, do a business plan, go to class, and try to enjoy the city. It’s absolutely impossible. I think you should make the business plan a pretty big deal. It’s basically the only class that us Management majors can do well in since we can’t even hold a candle to the INTA majors in the other classes. Therefore, I propose that you make the business plan due right before you leave Argentina. The mini-business plan that we did in Argentina can be done in Brazil. So for finals, you will have one a week, each in Curitiba, Sao Paulo, and Rio. Then the business plan will be very planned out and intricate and it will be due much before in Argentina.

Now that is a darn good study abroad program!

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photo by: Eric