Sao Paulo Travel Blog

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What I would recommend to the program director of this study abroad: 

  • Keep the same dorm experience in Buenos Aires.  I know some students complained about it and will say to change it, but I found it worth the few negative aspects.  The atmosphere was very conducive to cultural learning by making it easy to meet argentines and students from around Latin America.  And regardless of what some may say, the amenities were nothing to complain about:  the food was delicious almost every meal (and it is important that there is food, because it would stink to be on your own for food for 5 weeks), the rooms were good.
  • But the staff of the residencia was not always very friendly or helpful.  If you know of any other places, it wouldn’t hurt to check them out, though I don’t think a change is necessarily needed. 
  • IMPORTANT one:  Negotiate about the internet before you commit.  It was very frustrating not having wireless internet in the residencia when we were paying for it.  Make sure that they will have enough IPs to give out.
  • Less time in Curitiba (though that isn’t to say I didn’t like it).  Maybe shave a day or two off Floripa/Sao Paulo as well so that the group can make it to Paraty.  I don’t know about Rio yet, we’ll be there soon enough, but Paraty is great and I think it would be better to maybe have less time in Curitiba, spread out the finals more, and be able to spend a day or two in Paraty. 
  • IMPORTANT one:  if you do the blogs again, highly encourage everyone to bring computers.  It has been frustrating for others to have to borrow computers or walk far to find internet cafés, as well for me loaning out my computer and having a few accessories lost/broken as it is passed around. 
  • Internet has been more or less available in the places we’ve gone, but take special care to look into Internet availability wherever the group stays next year. 
  • I’m not sure what system you used last year for assignments, but I felt the blog idea worked out well.  It would be good to reduce the cultural ones from 4 to 3.  Group blogs are a must - I learned so much by working with others, groups are key.  I don’t know how stressful/difficult it was to get the equipment and make the videos last year, but I thought it might have been cool. 
  • Bringing along the Argentines was a GREAT idea.  They really mixed things up, provided great insight for the blogs and course material, and kept the group fresh, injected a fresh element into the group.  Important after having already been together for 5 weeks.
  • Site visits - were awesome!  I think you did a great job lining up the site visits.  We got to hear from some really great speakers and people who knew what they were talking about.  All the ones in Argentina were great, especially the tours and going to see the guy in the Argentine government.  I also enjoyed all the ones in Curitiba, though others may disagree.  I think it is important to get information from the source, because you can deduce a lot from what they say and the surroundings, more than just what they tell you.  It’s also much more interesting than just having lectures to get that info.
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This blog is all gossip.  Its not about Brazilian culture or some really cool experience.  Its about group dynamics.  Living with and hanging out with all the people on this study abroad trip has been a very interesting experience.  With a group of this size that spends so much time together, issues are bound to arise. 


The amount of gossiping blew me away.  Not to say that I didn’t do my fair share, but I have never been around or involved in so much of it with my friends back home.  In Buenos Aires there was less drama and issues I think because we were still getting to know each other.  But as time went on, problems began to crop up between people and the talking behind the back was vicious. 


You don’t want to hear about all the different issues and gossip, so I’ll just tell you how it all affected me and what I got out of it.  At first I really enjoyed the gossip.  I’ve always been one to really repress gossiping and try not to involve myself in it, but while in BA I consciously made a decision to allow myself to gossip if I felt like it, and I accepted the fact that it meant others would be sure to gossip and say bad things about me as well.  It was fun for most of the trip, but it got a little old toward the end – people were saying the same things about the same people, and I just didn’t feel like listening to the bashing anymore. 


I probably gossiped about everyone at some point, but there were a few people that I would single out more because, to put it nicely, I particularly didn’t care to hang out with them.  For most of the trip, I would just try to avoid these few people and not spend time with them or talk with them if I could help it.  But as time passed I realize that I could find redeeming qualities in all of them, and I started to try to be nicer to them and not avoid them as much.  As a result, I began to enjoy myself around them better.  I really had no choice because we are all living in such proximity and do so many things together that I had to do something.  This is very important and good for me because, last semester as a PL (housing staff, like an RA), I had some residents that I just couldn’t stand and I really didn’t know how to handle it; I did not treat them as well as a PL should. 


This study abroad has taught me a lot about interpersonal relationships, both friendly and romantic (though no romantic ones with anyone on this trip), and how to look past annoyances and how to overcome problems I may have with someone.

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photo by: Eric