My tips for next year

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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            This summer has been one of the most memorable periods of my life. The experiences of this program are very endearing and will be with my always. However, like all things in life, there is always room for improvement.


·         Academics: Study Abroad definitely does not mean Party Abroad. The amount of work on this program is definitely comparable to regular classes at Georgia Tech. As an INTA student I have grown accustomed to reading vigorous amounts of material. However I did not expect to be reading the same amount at the same pace that I do in the States. On top of that, I did not think I would have to read that amount while trying to explore and experience a new country and culture. Consequently, I suggest that the amount of reading as well as other areas of academics be revamped in the following ways:

o       Readings: Send out the material/readings way in advance. As soon as one signs up and gets accepted into the program, give them a list of readings to get a head start on. This way people can better pace themselves. It is true that some people will not read the material until last minute. However, I honestly think a good majority of them will take the initiative and get started early.


o       Blogs: I think this idea was great in the fact that it allowed people to communicate with each other as well as their friends and family back home their experiences. However, I think the amount of blogs was a bit much. Granted, it is not hard to write four entries, but people found out very fast that they could not just write about anything. There was somewhat of a standard to follow. I found it difficult to write four, high caliber blogs on top of all the readings, activities, etc. Next year I think it may be a good idea to require 1 or 2 blogs but these blogs need to have different components to them. Perhaps you could make the requirements something like “1. Politics & political culture 2) Arts (dance, music, architechture) 3) sports 4) Interview with a local, 5) etc.” This way you can have people write in depth papers/blogs but at the same time, not overwhelm them. Also, I think it would be a good idea to give people some different samples of a “10” blogs. This will allow people to have a better understanding of what you’re looking for and how they should go about writing their paper. I think it was a good idea for people to change groups. It made people interact with each other and work together. It also allowed people to learn and see the views of others who they might not have interacted with otherwise.


o       Exams: Give a list of readings/topics/questions/issues/etc for the exams. GT students have a reputation of “freaking out” and overwhelming themselves before a final. If you give them a good idea of what to study, they won’t freak out as much. Also, I had a difficult time trying to study for the exams and doing blogs when we were constantly doing site visits and other activities. I was overwhelmed at trying to study for the Democritization final when we had full day site visits the day before the exam as well as other previous days.

o       Class/Work: Spread the work out. I personally would have had some classes in Florianopolis and Curitiba


  • Housing
      • Buenos Aires: I really enjoyed the Residencia. I think it was a valuable experience living with other students. Living in the Residencia made it seem more like a dorm or a homebase then hotels. I felt much less of a tourist and more of a college student (which has a common universal theme). I also appreciated the meals we received everyday. However, I will be honest, the noise was horrendous to me. As a light sleeper, I hear everything. Consequently, the obnoxious sounds in the wee hours of the morning were a killer. I think it would be a good idea to tell students to bring ear plugs/headphones, etc to the Residencia. This will help them sleep, study, and have other moments where they want silence. Speaking of noise, sounds in the Residencia naturally resonate. I could talk in my normal voice in the hallway and my voice would boom. Some of us have louder voices or voices that carry. This hurt us because we got scolded by the ladies of the Residencia for being loud and intoxicated. Many times we were not intoxicated and it was merely due to the acoustics of the Residencia that we seemed loud. However overall, I really liked living in the Residencia. It gave me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people from around the world and a chance to actively practice my Spanish everyday with the ladies of the Residencia.


      • Brazil: I’m not going to lie, I felt like a total tourist in Brazil. Staying in hotels, always makes me feel like a tourist. However, the pousadas, hotels, condominums, etc that we stayed in Brazil were great. I appreciated all the amenities and securities of staying in a hotel in Brazil.


      • Roommates: I think it is a very good idea for people to switch roommates each time. I don’t think people should have the option of staying with just one person. This is how cliques form and hurt dynamics of the group. I suggest either having people pick roommates themselves or drawing names. Living with different people lets students get to know each other in a very unique facet. Also, it helps students learn how to live with different types of people.



  • Other Suggestions:
      • Program Part 1: I really appreciated and enjoyed living in one place in Argentina. I felt as though I really became a short-term Porteña. I became familiar with the city and felt like I could find my way around. However, I think it would have been great if we could have seen more of Argentina. Perhaps a trip to Mendoza, Cordoba or another city/place would be great. This will allow students to see that Argentina is not just Buenos Aires. However, if it is hard to coordinate a trip to another part of Argentina, perhaps a trip to El Tigre, Montevideo or some other closer place would be more efficient.


      • Program Part 2: I really enjoyed seeing so many cities in Brazil. I liked how we got to stay in industrial cities as well as small towns. I personally hate lugging all my stuff around, but I really cannot complain because I loved visiting all the different places. However, some people may disagree. I would also hot have minded if we traveled less. But if we did this, I would have wanted weekends/days off so I could visit different places in Brazil. I think that all students should go to Rio de Janeiro. I know that many people could not/did not want to pay the extra money to stay the extra week but really wanted to go to Rio. Many said that they would have rather have gone to Rio than São Paulo.



Okay, Okay I know that I wrote a lot of criticism. But don’t get me wrong, this trip was AMAZING. It honestly was a trip of a lifetime and I will never forget it. I have learned a lot about Latin America, politics, economy, soccer/futebol as well as myself. I honestly feel as though I’ve grown up in some ways and that I have changed into a more well rounded person. This program was an incredible opportunity and I will always be indebted to the directors who coordinated this unforgettable experience.



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