From childhood I've always had an extreme fascination with the South American continent. It's tropical climate, vast expanses of forestry, limitless variety of species and rich culture has always been alluring and mysterious. During my freshman year of college as a Biochemistry student this sentiment drove me to explore a second degree in Spanish with a Portuguese concentration. Through Portuguese studies at the University of Arizona, I was able to Study Abroad this summer in Fortaleza, Ceará Brasil and I must say that my life has been altered substantially.
Whilst studying the Portuguese language and improving my verbal and oratory proficiency, I was able to fully immerse myself in the culture and live the Brazilian jeito de vida (way of life). Although the teaching experience flowed through the classroom, I felt that the true learning experience came from the day-to-day activities and emersion into Brazilian society. I had the opportunity to not only live with a Brazilian family, but to be part of the Carvolho household in every aspect. Amongst many other activities, I travelled to pristine beaches with white sand and crystal clear water, explored historic museums, devoured Brazilian Churrasco (BBQ), and participated in one of Fortaleza’s largest music festivals; Fortal.
For me study abroad was exactly what the title entails, broadening my horizons. I returned to the university with more than I left with. I gained insight on the dynamics of the country, friends and family both from the program and Brazil, and most importantly a deeper understanding the world outside of the United States. This experience vitalized my passion to improve the lives of others globally and is one that I would recommend to all students.