One of the BRICs, the massive Jesus, football… Most of our preconceptions about Brazil revolve around things we’ve learnt in Geography or places we’ve seen David Beckham making football documentaries in.
Universities, Portugese, anywhere other than Rio de Janeiro… our preconceptions don’t offer much in the way of this.
Well, maybe that was just me, but I doubt it. But rejoice (!) for I have been enlightened. Thanks to my friends at Embratur, TAP Portugal and Study in Brazil, I was whisked off to South America to see for myself why studying in Brazil would’ve been aÂ lotÂ more fun than in London.
I learnt a lot in Brazil. I learnt about how good the prison system is, about how some churches were only built with one spire so they were technically ‘incomplete’ and never had to pay tax, about how you couldn’t flush used toilet paper down the toilet in some places and were expected to dispose of it in the bin instead, about a cool drink called Guarana Antarctica which is a million times nicer than coke, about how loads of restaurants (called ‘kilo’ restaurants) charge you for the weight of yourÂ food, about how the capital of Brazil is actually BrasÃlia, not Rio, and loads of other cool stuff that’s not at all relevant to an article about studying in Brazil.
SO, let me tell you about why studying in Brazil is great, and then – by appealing toÂ stereotypes I’ve deduced would be well suited to locations I spent only a couple of days in – I’m going to tell you where you, yes YOU, should be heading to in pursuit of sun-kissedÂ knowledge cultivation.
It’s great for loads of reasons, but for the sake of ease, I’m going to give you four.
Number one! It’s sunny there; it’s not in England.
Number two – it’s a lot more interesting than studying somewhere like Paris, where everyone you speak to is English, and when we inevitably leave the EU (sob) on Thursday, you’re not getting that Erasmus grant anyway.
Number three: Your friends would rather visit you there than on your British Council placement in ImstÂ (flights start at Â£592 return, so it’s actually only the cost of a few pints in London).
Number four: Eight of Latin America’s top 15 universities are in Brazil.
With that in mind, where you should you head if you want to study in Brazil?
If you’re a city-dwelling, Uber-loving, booze-chugging adventurer: SÃ£o Paulo
2o million people live in greater SÃ£o Paulo; that’s the population of Sri Lanka, and my God can you see how. The skyline is awash with skyscraper, after skyscraper, after skyscraper. Imagine if Manhattan started going to the gym, took growth hormones and then popped a Viagra. You’re imagining SÃ£o Paulo.
From an educational perspective you could head to the uni ofÂ SÃ£o Paulo, the best university in LatinÂ America, set upon a vast campus, a green gem in SÃ£o Paulo’s otherwise beige landscape. But your options don’t end there, and you could also head to an internship or work for an NGO, or even take on some sports tours.
Non-educationally wise, beer is REALLY cheap and served super, super cold. There’s loads of bars, loads of shops and every Sunday they close off Paulista Avenue (probably an Oxford Street equivalent) from traffic to make way for sunshine walks, group dance classes, and bustling markets.
One of the things that genuinely struck me about SÃ£o Paulo, and Brazil generally, though, was how truly lovely everyone was. Everyone was so happy to help, even if they didn’t speak English, and this was something people repeated over and over again so believe me – it’s true.
The same kindness was reflected in their treatment of others and places like ADUS (who help refugees rebuild their lives) and 4YOU2 (who teach Portuguese to locals in the Favelas for a fraction of the normal price) reflect the abundance of love the Brazilians share for each other.
If you’re a smaller-city, green-space loving, urban-planning extraordinaire: Â Curitiba
Now I say ‘smaller city’ and, when you compare it to SÃ£o Paulo, it is. But with a Â population of over 3.5 million, it’s hardly a ‘small city’ by British standards. That said, Curitiba has been heralded as a beacon of urban-planning. It’s a super-sustainable, un-congested town of the sort you’d build on Sims 2.
We had a look around Curitiba at all the things you could do and, naturally, there were lots. Brazilian ExperienceÂ took us around and showed us more awesome internship opportunities, we ate more INCREDIBLE food and even ended up in a massive Bavarian bar (where we drunk more really cold beer). There was also loads of parks and some had these weird rat dogs in called Capivaras.
If you’re a chilled out beach babe with an affinity to good looking people, stunning lakes and little islands:Â FloriÃ³nopalis
The Sun wrote: “Brazil already has the reputation of having the most beautiful women, but this island paradise is the epicenter of beauty.”
We were treated to an unreal couple of days thanks to the incredible people at The Language Club, a stunning language school in the heart of FloriÃ³nopalis. As I sat in an oyster bar overlooking the South Atlantic, BOY did I realise The Sun was right.
The Language Club was awesome and exactly where I’d be going if I was headed back to Brazil. They teach loads of languages and, in the words of my compatriot Daniel, who was on the trip with me, “if sitting in a classroom whilst in the Beverly Hills of Brazil doesnâ€™t sound appealing, you can take your classes whilst going for a hike. Although choosing to do them in the school isnâ€™t a bad idea, either.”
Naturally, we went on a hike and headed to Nuafragados Beach, a beautiful little bay accessible only on foot. But there was MORE. We also went hiking, sand boarding, eating. You name it, we did it.
FloriÃ³nopalis is so, so beautiful. It’s quiet and calm, a world away from the craziness of the bigger cities, just a little island gently floating on the South Atlantic Ocean connected to South America by only a massiveÂ bridge. There are countless beaches, loads of little bars and restaurants, and breathtakingÂ scenery.
Should you want to see some of this scenery, or anything else I’ve probably mentioned in this article, YOU’RE IN LUCK!
Here’s a video I spent hours slaving over – I hope you enjoy it.
p.s. Go to Brazil, eat a lot, tan a lot, learn a lot.