Safety was a
major concern of both my family and my friends after hearing that I would be
spending a month and a half in Brazil.
Crime and safety in Brazil
is in a way part of their culture. Several of the cities in Brazil carry a negative connotation
simply because they have high crime rates.
Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are notorious worldwide for
their crime and corruption. . Crime is a serious problem for the entire nation
of Brazil and it has come to
affect the economy of Brazil.
Many people are turned off from doing business in Brazil due to the large crime rates
and corruption issues.
Florianopolis was a beach town,
and I viewed it as a transition from the more comfortable and safer Argentina to the harsh Brazil. It was away for us to slowly adjust to the
crime in Brazil.
But we learned very quickly that you cannot let your guard down, after fours
students were mugged while inside their rooms.
I think everyone was astonished just because it was thought of as one of
the safest places we would visit in Brazil. Therefore if a mugging like
that can happen here, it will happen anywhere. I think it was a very good
lesson for the entire group, just because no one was hurt, but we all learned a
very quick lesson.
Iguaçu Falls is
somewhat of a touristy area, and I did fell completely safe there. However, I may have been naïve. On our way
home to the hotel one night, we were walking along the street in a fair sized
group of both girls and guys when one of the locals stopped us and told us that
we “should probably be in a cab- it is safer.” You know that if a local is
telling you that you should not be walking around at night, then it is probably
a good idea to catch a cab home. So from then on we did.
Sao Paulo, the forth largest city in the world, obviously has a large crime
rate. Any city in the world with that size population is bound to have issues
with crime, it is almost unavoidable. I was warned before I arrived in Sao Paulo about the safety
issues. In an email I was given a list
of things to avoid and things to be mindful of.
And so I was respectful of these issues.
However I will say that if I knew nothing about the safely issues of Sao
Paulo and I just arrived in the city oblivious I would have never known or
thought that it had a exponentially higher crime rate than any other city in
the world. I would have thought that my
actions in Sao Paulo could have been the exact
same as Buenos Aires.
Rio de Janeiro also has crime issues just like the rest of the country. And one
local told me that at night he would never stop at a stop sign unless
absolutely necessary. He told me to always keep moving in a vehicle. But the entire weekend I was there I never
felt in anyway threatened or nervous about being out alone. But I guess maybe I can be a bit naïve
sometimes. And obviously there are certain areas of town that you would not
I feel like
everyone’s experiences with safety were different in Brazil. Some felt safe in cities
where others were nervous and cautious. I
remember the Argentines warning me about how careful I should be. On a number
of different occasions I was told to “be careful” and “watch your stuff” by the
Argentines. However, overall I can say
that my experiences in Brazil
have been safe and pleasant, and I knew that I was right when I told my parents
the day I departed that I would be fine and there was no need to worry. I have
defiantly been scared more times in Atlanta in a
two month period than I ever was in Argentina
for the past two months. Which I have honestly been surprised about. Everyone
expects these cities in Brazil
to be so dangerous, but really they aren’t, you just need to keep your wits
about you. I have learned that the trick
is to be mindful and most importantly aware of your surroundings but never
scared. Maybe I was just lucky or maybe these cities in Brazil are in fact great cities and
are not as “hazardous” as everyone around the world perceives them to be.
First I would like to say that to travel
through Argentina and Brazil
and participate in some of the things that we had the opportunity to do was an
incredible experience and I am most appreciative.
Time and Places
The first thing that comes to mind and I
guess sort of the basic layout of the program is the time that is spent in each
city/town. I loved Buenos Aires and I like the fact that we
spent an extended amount of time there.
But instead of having 4 weeks there, I would shorten it to 3 weeks. I
loved spending 10 days in Florianopolis
and it could maybe be lengthened to 12-15 days with more Portuguese
classes. Iguazu Falls
was amazing to see and the amount of time spent there was perfect. I think that
the amount of time in Curitiba
could be shortened to 7 days and that would be plenty. The trip to Sao Paulo was the perfect
length in my opinion. I would also take the basic study abroad group to
experience Rio de Janeiro, just because it is in
my opinion a Brazil
experience. You would only need to spend a couple of days there at the end of
the study abroad.
It is nice to have a couple of free days in
each place (except Iguazu
Falls, since all we did
there is site see anyway) just so that you can explore the city for yourself
and see the things that you are interested in.
I liked having “tours” of the city the first or second day we arrived in
each town because then we had some idea of what we could do and what we wanted
to do the rest of our stay there.
Class in Buenos Aires
I felt was short compared to the amount of time that we spent in class/lectures/site
visits later in the trip in Brazil. The only thing I could complain about is
having breaks at a 1 and a 1/2 intervals
instead of 2 hours, I know that seems a little picky, but it makes the world of
a difference when you need to stand up and stretch or use the restroom.
Class on wheels was one of my favorite
things. Gabriel is incredibly interesting and he has a certain style about him
that makes learning the history fascinating. I would have more than 3 class on
The entire process, learning through
lecture, through site visits and videos was a great combination that really was
conducive to learning. You really felt
like you walked away with a understanding of what was going on in the country.
But the combination was essential to helping me figure everything out.
For the most part the lectures were great.
My favorite lecture was definitely Jeff Casen, in Florianopolis. Some of the lectures were
obviously a little boring since they were telling us things that we already
knew. The site visits were interesting
and there are few that I would not want to do again. A couple of my favorites
were the MST camp and the favellas.
I liked having the blogs as opposed to a
final project/paper. The personal blogs
made me think each week about what I had experienced and overall what was going
on in the culture around me. Although they could get a bit time consuming and
therefore the only thing I would change is to have 2 per week as opposed to 4
personal blogs. The group blogs were also a good way to discuss the issues etc.
and sometimes they were hard to finish due to the fact that it was hard to find
time for all the group members to sit down and work, but that comes with any
The finals arrangements seemed extremely
fair and I thought they were given at a great time in the trip. Everyone hates
pop quizzes, but it in the long run I really do appreciate them because I know
that they make me keep up with the readings.
I thought all the housing arrangements were
comfortable. I enjoyed living in the dorms in Buenos Aires with all the other
students, it was a great way to talk to locals and we also were able to come
and go as we pleased, plus having our meals included was very convenient. I thought all the other hotels/pousadas were
perfect for large sized groups, they were comfortable and safe without being
stuffy. The only thing I would change is to have internet access either in the
hotel or convenient on the street since we needed it constantly to finish our
assignments. Sometimes it just wasn’t safe to walk alone at night to the
internet café etc. and it became harder and harder to get work done.
I would either require students next year
to bring their computers or I would make sure the living arrangement always
included internet. Sometimes it became
too hard to get our work done without the internet, since research was
necessary to complete some of our requirements.
Strongly encourage everyone to get their
visas before leaving the US.
I felt that we had a great deal of our
meals paid for on the trip and I liked the fact that we always had a free
I also enjoyed having the Argentines with us
we traveled through Brazil,
I think they brought a lot to the group and had a lot to share with us. I think just sitting down and talking to them
helped us learn a lot.