Lead Story

Brigado Brazil! (Christopher Porcaro)

Christopher Porcaro, January 24th, 2018

Brazil was an experience that I will forever remember until the day I die. There are so many amazing sights to see in Brazil that just explaining them to you will never do it any justice. The country as a whole is beautiful and the people were kind enough to let us be apart of their culture for 2 weeks.

One of the more interesting corporate visits we encountered at our time in Brazil was a bus company by the name Marcopolo. Marcopolo is one of the best producers of luxury bus design in Brazil. The company’s main focus is to receive the frame of the bus from a 3rd party producer and then Marcopolo designs the body to the specifications of the customer. It was incredible to see a company be able to design so many different specific options for so many customers. As difficult as it sounds, Marcopolo seemed to be handling it with ease.

Marcopolo isn’t just a domestic company. They have other many manufacturing facilities all over the world. Some were in India, Russia, and even the middle east. Their reach is absolutely incredible. The employee for Marcopolo that showed us around was apart of the supply chain process of the manufacturer and had actually lived in many parts of the world while working for Marcopolo.

Marcopolo also had a very interesting supply chain process actually. For those of you who have taken supply chain 364, the process of Marcopolo follows the lean manufacturing technique and also is very similar to the Toyota TPS method. Essentially the manufacturing process is all about keeping your work space clean and not having any clutter or anything not needed around. I found it very interesting to finally see this played out in real life in front of my eyes.

Finally, Marcopolo started to describe its competitors to us and it seemed as though they didn’t have much competition at all really. We realized this once they started to tell us about all the many other charter bus companies they had recently taken over or bought out. I found this intriguing because in the U.S. you wouldn’t see this due to the very strict anti trust laws.

There were three times I was in complete awe of how beautiful Brazil is on this trip. The first time was in a state that Dr. A was originally from. He took us to visit the locals around his town and play soccer and futsal with them. Later that day once we were all done playing soccer and talking to the locals, he had the locals take us in these vehicles that resembled an older form of tractor. On this tractor ride, the locals took us down this hill as we passed these beautiful rows of a vineyard. They seemed to go on forever on these sloping hills. In Texas if you see any sort of farming it’s on flat ground but this was on roaming hills that went on forever.

The second time I was in shocked by Brazil was the trip to Christ the Redeemer. To get up to the statue you have to wait on the ground for a sort of trolly to take you up the hill. The trolly then ascends up this steep mountain and while you go up you have an amazing view of the city and everything surrounding it. As the ride goes along you take pictures and you’re amazed by it all, but then you realize you’re not even at the best part yet. Once you reach the top with the trolly they cram as many people in an elevator as they can to speed up the line to get you to Christ the Redeemer. Once you’re out of the elevator you see many different steps leading to the top to where any could essentially stand next to the statue and even touch it. At the top of the stairs as you’re standing next to the statue you look out over the edge and you can see the entire city of Rio. You go to one end and you see large, green mountains. You go to the other side and you can see the Copacabana beach. Go to the other side and you see a vast ocean. The sight was incredible and I’ll never forget it.

The last and possibly the best sight I’ve ever and maybe will ever see is the view from Sugar Loaf mountain. To get to the mountain range you take a monorail system from the ground up to each peak of each mountain in the range. Once on the top of each range you smell different foods from various shops on each peak. The best part though of the entire experience was going to the second peak around night time. The best thing to do during this time is to sit down in these chairs, grab a coffee or pizza and just look out into the city at night. Also when you’re sitting down on this level you can look to the left and see Christ the Redeemer light up. This sight was the most calming scene I’ve ever been apart of. You can just feel the breeze slowly coming in and it’s very quiet at night on the mountains because many people leave. This is honestly the one thing I’ll never forget. The best way to end the trip after doing so many things in two weeks.

One thing I would want to share with everyone is obviously I would recommend going on this trip to anyone and everyone. It’s an incredible two weeks of learning so many things about a culture. You learn things you never would be able to about a country if you just were to read about it. That being said I wouldn’t do this trip alone or just with friends. I highly recommend going with Dr. A. Dr. A was amazing and did some many things for us that we wouldn’t even know how to do. He constantly looked after us, kept us safe from strangers, and planned everything amazingly. I highly recommend going on this trip with Dr. A. He’s the best around and knows the safest and best places to have fun and trust me you’ll have fun.

The other thing I wanted to share about my trip to everyone is the Brazilian culture. As Americans we are very fast paced in the things we do in our everyday lives. Trust me even if you take your time you still move at a much faster pace than most Brazilians. When we arrived we started to realize this very laid back nature of the Brazilians. If you do go to Brazil, please embrace their culture of laid back attitude. It makes everything so much better and it will take a lot of stress of you if you do. I found myself reluctant to embrace the culture at first, but after awhile I gave into it and it really makes the trip more relaxing.

This trip in my biased opinion is the best trip Mays have given to its students. Everything about the trip I loved so much. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember forever and will always look back on as the best way to spend part of my Christmas break. So please if you’re considering doing this trip, sign up. Dr. A is so much fun to be around and Brazil is an amazing place.

Brigado Brasil!

Two weeks have flown by since we departed from Brazil, but the trip is all I ever think about! I feel as though this trip has impacted me in so many ways, and for this, I will forever keep the memories made close to my heart. As I am going into my final semester of school here at Texas A&M, I can honestly say this trip has changed my entire outlook on life. Before flying out to Brazil, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that Brazil was a third world country, but I what I didn’t know, was that the culture and the people would change my perception about life.

I originally thought that two weeks would not be enough time to really soak up the Brazilian culture, but I was definitely wrong. Once we landed in São Paulo, we drove to our hotel in the infamous “ViaggioTour” bus. As we exited the airport grounds and started our journey, I immediately noticed bright green grass and tropical trees that surrounded the bus. The land was so breathtaking! About ten minutes into the drive, I started to notice an abundance of graffiti on the sides of the highways. This was surprising to me only because I originally had the impression that the area was very well kept because of the gorgeous landscape. I soon learned that the graffiti was not only in this specific area, it was everywhere. Every building and highway was covered. It became evident to me that Brazilians were not only talented with their fancy, spray-painted murals, but that they are very passionate about their arts. In the United States, graffiti is not nearly as common as it is in Brazil. Americans tend to at look at graffiti as a crime and therefore it is frowned upon.

On our second day in São Paulo, Dr. A surprised us and took us bike riding at Ibirapuera Park. It was the pond filled with beautiful ducks, the bright green grass, and the element of surprise that made this park adventure so much more fun! This park was full of energetic locals biking and walking with their families and pets. I took a break from riding the bikes to shoot around and play basketball with a couple of the locals. The fact that Brazilians have such a strong soccer culture, it was surprising to see locals playing on an actual basketball court. One of the locals spoke English pretty well, while the other did not. I learned from the English speaking local that his friend, the whom did not speak English, played on a semi-pro basketball team. I found this to be really cool because I did not know that Brazilians played anything else besides soccer. The English speaking local then proceeded to inform me that only a select few Brazilians actually play basketball as it is not common.

Later on this same day, we were surprised again. This time, Dr. A took us to Beco do Batman, or “Batman’s Alley”. This outdoor gallery filled with colorful art, covered nearly every inch of every wall/building. From angel wings to under water animal murals, there was a plethora of art. Thinking about the graffiti I saw the previous day on the bus, Beco do Batman seemed to be every graffiti artists heaven. This place reminded me that Brazilians love to express themselves through art. I find it metaphorical as it seems that graffiti is the platform they chose to use to really express their thoughts and feelings. With the government being so corrupt in Brazil, I feel as though graffiti is their go-to outlet for deep expression.

One of my most favorite days took place in Bento Goncalves! I woke up not knowing what were doing this day; mainly because I did not look at the itinerary and Dr. A really loves surprising us. After breakfast in the hotel we headed off to start our day. We started off with a scenic view on top of a hill overlooking the area we were headed to, downtown Caxias do Sul. Upon arrival in downtown, Dr. A informed us that this is an Italian influenced area, known primarily for its winemaking and industrial manufacturing. We arrive at a local community center near Dr. A’s old home where a few locals were waiting for us. All of my fellow study abroad mates, including Dr. A, played a fun game on a soccer field behind the community complex. Side Note: I get to say that I (poorly) played a game of soccer on Brazilian soil! How cool is that?! Once we’ve all played our hearts out and cooled off with cold waters (Agua com gas, brigada!), it was time to go hiking. The locals led us through a trail which would soon lead me to my first ever waterfall experience (and first ever bee sting, took it like a champ)! After gazing at the peaceful waterfall and trying to catch tiny butterflies that fluttered close to the sand, we all took a dip in the water. After taking hundreds of pictures, we had another surprise waiting for us. A small hike back up the waterfall, we find ourselves walking through a breathtaking vineyard. Here we stopped, for what I realize now was a long time, to pick fresh wine grapes from vines. We were so busy chatting away about the peacefulness of this experience that we lost track of time! After a quick game of futsal (or indoor soccer) with more locals, it was time to refuel our bodies after such an active day. While we played futsal, locals were preparing to serve us for dinner. Here, I fell in love with Brazilian BBQ even more. The flame roasted chicken (which I am currently craving) was the best chicken I have ever eaten in my life. I am not even exaggerating. For the locals to show such great hospitality and cook a perfect feast for strangers is a testament to the Brazilian way of life.

Another favorite day of mine was the corporate visit to Santa Clara do Sul. In this town we took a tour of a local grocery store, Santa Clara. After a warm welcome from the stores agricultural engineer, we learn all about the start-up of Santa Clara and how Santa Clara produces its own dairy products for retail in store. Next, we loaded the bus and took a quick drive to a local farm. The farmer who raises cattle for milk production on this farm gave us a tour of his family owned and operated farm. He then led us to a very sanitized room and explains to us (translation done by Dr. A) how they begin Santa Clara’s dairy production. Arriving back at the Santa Clara grocery store, we casually bump into the President of Santa Clara roaming the aisles which I thought was pretty cool to meet him. Upon leaving Santa Clara, a few of us actually bought some of the diary products they sold and our favorite bag of Brazilian Cheeto’s (currently eating some I brought back for inspiration for this blog).

It was interesting to learn that Brazilians take their vacation time very seriously. On another corporate visit, this time to MarcoPolo’s bus making facilities, we saw that over half of the workers scheduled for the day did not come to work. The engineer leading us on the tour explained to us that because it is the New Year, (January 2nd) people are still enjoying their vacation time with family at the beach. This was common everywhere we went in Brazil and we quickly learned that it is just the Brazilian way of life. I learned that Brazilians work only to live the most peaceful life they can. They do not let work or stress interrupt their life and that is one of the biggest lessons I will take away from this study abroad. I tend to find myself always stressing about school, work, or my future, but Brazil has taught me a lot. One important lesson that crosses my mind when I think about Brazil now, is that sometimes I need to just slow down and live life free spiritedly. Do not get so caught up in the rushed, American way of life and take a deep breathe when I worry. And finally, to cherish moments with loved ones for as long as I can, while I can.

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

Rather than taking yet another winter session class this break, I decided to apply for a study abroad program in Brazil, and what a decision! When I got accepted into the program I did not realize what an impact it would have on my life, I went to the pre-departure meetings and sat through each presentation but did not fully grasp the fact that I was leaving the country for the first time in my life. It wasn’t until I was on my way to the airport and I had to turn into the international section when I suddenly realized that I was about to travel to a new country. While I knew I would be visiting Brazil, I did not expect to be as immersed into the culture as I was. It is so funny to think how it only took two weeks to fall in love with the people, culture, and country of Brazil.

We had the opportunity to visit a variety of companies, from Marcopolo’s modernized bus-production factory to a family-owned farm that supplies milk for Santa Clara. Although every visit held something memorable, my personal favorite experience was visiting Escola Presidente Dutra in Farroupilha. When arriving to the school I was not sure what to expect, I assumed it would be similar to our previous corporate visits followed by a quick game of soccer. But upon arrival, we were greeted as though we were family, every person there rushed to say hello to each one of us and made us feel very comfortable. As we squeezed through the hallway to make our way into the room to watch their presentation I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in elementary school and found myself excited for what would happen next. After we were seated, they had put together a great presentation video that had a collection of pictures and videos from their entire school year. During the presentation, we learned that they had participated in a state-wide competition and had won first place for their “Breakfast with Taxes” project! For their project, the group of students went to the grocery store and bought some products needed to make some breakfast, giving the children first-hand knowledge of how taxes affect their everyday life. This year they have decided to focus on a new pollution project by having a school garden and teaching the children how to tend to the garden and grow their own vegetables. The teachers there use an experience-based style of learning by allowing the children to experience what they learn, as they did with their Breakfast with Taxes project and as they continue to do with their garden. We were told that a large part of their educational approaches are influenced by Paulo Freire, a famous Brazilian educator and philosopher who identifies and considers the context of the environment and uses that context to teach students to better understand the environment around them.

Escola Presidente Dutra has a total of 450 students, some of which we were fortunate enough to meet. I was able to really get close to two, Pedro and Arthur. Pedro was a 10-year-old boy who was just starting to learn some English, so he was able to teach me a few words in Portuguese. I was also able to meet some of his family who had also come to the school that day, his older brother, Gustavo, and his cousin, Sofia, and I was even able to meet his Mother and Father there, or his Mae and Pai. Arthur was 18 years old and a pretty impressive chess player! He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and was able to help me translate if I ever got stuck attempting to speak Portuguese. Although the school was considered a corporate visit we learned a great deal about Brazilian culture there, as well. We played soccer and learned how to dance Capoeira which turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be. My absolute favorite moment of the day had to be the food, it was probably my favorite meal of the trip! It was a simple meal, but it really felt like I was at home eating lunch with my family except I was in an entirely different country with people I had only just met! It was on this day where I fell in love with Brazil, the sense of love and unity was present the entire day and it even had a feeling of home, these memories are memories I will hold with me for the rest of my life.

Now, I cannot talk about cultural visits without spending some time talking about the Christmas show in Gramado! I was very excited for this show from the moment Dr. A mentioned it in one of our pre-departure meetings and was anxiously waiting for this “Christmas town” he had been talking about. I am a pretty big Christmas fan, so I was jumping in my seat on our way to the show. When my friends and I went to eat I was rushing them the entire time to make sure that we got good seats for Natal Luz! While waiting for the show to start, I wanted to buy a necklace from one of the vendors there, Dr. A was very good at allowing us to figure out how to purchase things on our own but this was the first time that I was able to have a conversation with someone and purchase a necklace entirely in Portuguese! It was a real turning point of the trip there, I felt unstoppable. The first show was so nice, I remember talking to Dr. A afterwards and telling him how there was no way anything could top it and I’ll never forget what he said to me, “just wait until the next one”. The walk to the next performance felt like it took a lifetime and I’m thinking there’s no way I can feel happier than I was feeling. The first show was nice, but the second was breathtaking, I would never question Dr. A ever again. There were fireworks, a water stage, a candlestick lighting of the crowd, Christmas music in Portuguese and English, and a beautiful Christmas storyline. This show really portrayed Christmas culture and I learned that it is the same as ours, it is about family coming together and being joyful during this season. The day in Gramado, without a doubt, surpassed any expectations I might have had.

The scenery in Brazil is unlike any I’ve ever seen in my life. When I was sharing my Brazilian stories to my family I joked around saying that it felt as though I wasn’t even on the same planet anymore! I had to constantly remind myself to take pictures because I was in awe every single place Dr. A was taking us to, he had been taken us to beaches, waterfalls, vineyards, and very interesting museums! But one of my favorite spots was Sugar Loaf. Being on top of Sugar Loaf felt like being on top of the world, I loved Sugar Loaf because I was able to stand still and watch the busy city practically from the sky, there is nothing like it. During the trip, I felt the most at peace on top of that ridiculously high mountain, since we visited Sugar Loaf towards the end of the trip, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on everything that had happened in the last two weeks, how much has changed, how much I had changed, it was the perfect ending to a perfect trip. I had become so close with some people who were just strangers to me a couple of weeks prior, it’s amazing how just a couple of weeks of traveling can turn a group of strangers into lifelong friends! I was also able to meet some amazing people from Brazil who I will certainly go back to visit one day! This trip has really changed my life and shown me both a different business and cultural perspective. For this, I am forever thankful for Dr. A and the way he was able to show a group of college students an entirely different country and manage to get us all to really grasp both the business and culture of it all, that man is a true Brazilian! I wouldn’t want anyone else leading me during this trip.

 

 

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

Brazil was an experience that I will forever remember until the day I die. There are so many amazing sights to see in Brazil that just explaining them to you will never do it any justice. The country as a whole is beautiful and the people were kind enough to let us be apart of their culture for 2 weeks.

One of the more interesting corporate visits we encountered at our time in Brazil was a bus company by the name Marcopolo. Marcopolo is one of the best producers of luxury bus design in Brazil. The company’s main focus is to receive the frame of the bus from a 3rd party producer and then Marcopolo designs the body to the specifications of the customer. It was incredible to see a company be able to design so many different specific options for so many customers. As difficult as it sounds, Marcopolo seemed to be handling it with ease.

Marcopolo isn’t just a domestic company. They have other many manufacturing facilities all over the world. Some were in India, Russia, and even the middle east. Their reach is absolutely incredible. The employee for Marcopolo that showed us around was apart of the supply chain process of the manufacturer and had actually lived in many parts of the world while working for Marcopolo.

Marcopolo also had a very interesting supply chain process actually. For those of you who have taken supply chain 364, the process of Marcopolo follows the lean manufacturing technique and also is very similar to the Toyota TPS method. Essentially the manufacturing process is all about keeping your work space clean and not having any clutter or anything not needed around. I found it very interesting to finally see this played out in real life in front of my eyes.

Finally, Marcopolo started to describe its competitors to us and it seemed as though they didn’t have much competition at all really. We realized this once they started to tell us about all the many other charter bus companies they had recently taken over or bought out. I found this intriguing because in the U.S. you wouldn’t see this due to the very strict anti trust laws.

There were three times I was in complete awe of how beautiful Brazil is on this trip. The first time was in a state that Dr. A was originally from. He took us to visit the locals around his town and play soccer and futsal with them. Later that day once we were all done playing soccer and talking to the locals, he had the locals take us in these vehicles that resembled an older form of tractor. On this tractor ride, the locals took us down this hill as we passed these beautiful rows of a vineyard. They seemed to go on forever on these sloping hills. In Texas if you see any sort of farming it’s on flat ground but this was on roaming hills that went on forever.

The second time I was in shocked by Brazil was the trip to Christ the Redeemer. To get up to the statue you have to wait on the ground for a sort of trolly to take you up the hill. The trolly then ascends up this steep mountain and while you go up you have an amazing view of the city and everything surrounding it. As the ride goes along you take pictures and you’re amazed by it all, but then you realize you’re not even at the best part yet. Once you reach the top with the trolly they cram as many people in an elevator as they can to speed up the line to get you to Christ the Redeemer. Once you’re out of the elevator you see many different steps leading to the top to where any could essentially stand next to the statue and even touch it. At the top of the stairs as you’re standing next to the statue you look out over the edge and you can see the entire city of Rio. You go to one end and you see large, green mountains. You go to the other side and you can see the Copacabana beach. Go to the other side and you see a vast ocean. The sight was incredible and I’ll never forget it.

The last and possibly the best sight I’ve ever and maybe will ever see is the view from Sugar Loaf mountain. To get to the mountain range you take a monorail system from the ground up to each peak of each mountain in the range. Once on the top of each range you smell different foods from various shops on each peak. The best part though of the entire experience was going to the second peak around night time. The best thing to do during this time is to sit down in these chairs, grab a coffee or pizza and just look out into the city at night. Also when you’re sitting down on this level you can look to the left and see Christ the Redeemer light up. This sight was the most calming scene I’ve ever been apart of. You can just feel the breeze slowly coming in and it’s very quiet at night on the mountains because many people leave. This is honestly the one thing I’ll never forget. The best way to end the trip after doing so many things in two weeks.

One thing I would want to share with everyone is obviously I would recommend going on this trip to anyone and everyone. It’s an incredible two weeks of learning so many things about a culture. You learn things you never would be able to about a country if you just were to read about it. That being said I wouldn’t do this trip alone or just with friends. I highly recommend going with Dr. A. Dr. A was amazing and did some many things for us that we wouldn’t even know how to do. He constantly looked after us, kept us safe from strangers, and planned everything amazingly. I highly recommend going on this trip with Dr. A. He’s the best around and knows the safest and best places to have fun and trust me you’ll have fun.

The other thing I wanted to share about my trip to everyone is the Brazilian culture. As Americans we are very fast paced in the things we do in our everyday lives. Trust me even if you take your time you still move at a much faster pace than most Brazilians. When we arrived we started to realize this very laid back nature of the Brazilians. If you do go to Brazil, please embrace their culture of laid back attitude. It makes everything so much better and it will take a lot of stress of you if you do. I found myself reluctant to embrace the culture at first, but after awhile I gave into it and it really makes the trip more relaxing.

This trip in my biased opinion is the best trip Mays have given to its students. Everything about the trip I loved so much. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember forever and will always look back on as the best way to spend part of my Christmas break. So please if you’re considering doing this trip, sign up. Dr. A is so much fun to be around and Brazil is an amazing place.

Brigado Brasil!

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

Brazil truly shocked me. I had done a lot of research prior to the trip, and I thought I had a general idea of what to expect. In two weeks, I had the chance to experience the country first-hand with my Brazilian professor, Dr. A. Therefore, 18 Aggies were able to travel throughout the states to sense the core of their unique culture, food, and free-spirited lifestyle. We were able to meet Brazilians of various backgrounds, skin tones and accents. The diversity of the country amazed me due to the variety of world influences, such as German and Italian. The lessons I learned were endless, and I will always keep the memories close to my wanderlust heart.

The most extraordinary cultural visit was the day spent with the locals in Bento Gonçalves. We took taxis to a community center building with open land all around. Competitive soccer took up my entire life prior to college, so I was very excited when I saw two soccer fields ready for us to play on. It was amazing to be able to look around us and see vast vineyards with tall mountains in the distance. I had never played soccer in a scenery as beautiful as that. Dr. A then surprised us with a quick trip. We herded into the back of pick-up trucks that took us down a steep, unpaved road. We crossed a river where we jolted around in the bed of the truck as we drove over rocks and flowing water. We took a short, yet steep, hike in a forest. Our final destination was a magnificent waterfall. I was the first to arrive of the group, so seeing the untouched, serene beauty of the nature was jaw-dropping. We swam in the water and took many pictures. However, no pictures could accurately capture the view we witnessed. Once we headed back up, we had the opportunity to pick bunches of delicious grapes from a massive vineyard. Dr. A taught us the Brazilian way of eating grapes: With your thumb, index and middle finger, gently squeeze the fruit until the ‘meat’ of the grape is in your mouth; You don’t eat the skin! After our snack, we had the chance to play a few games of futsal with local league players. Although there was a language barrier between us, we were still able to connect passes and score celebratory-worthy goals. This was a dream come true for me! After a long day of physical activity, a Brazilian barbeque dinner, churrasco, was ready for us. All the food was made from scratch in the kitchen by our generous hosts. I can confidently say that this meal was my favorite from the entire trip! This day stood out because I truly felt like a local, not a tourist. Every activity was something that I would do if I lived in the area: play futebol, eat homemade food and chase a few secret waterfalls.

Rio de Janerio, of course, was a memorable city. We were able to visit Christ the Redeemer, view the sunset at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, beach hop from Copacabana and Ipanema, and safely drive through a few favelas. When we stopped to enjoy the day at Copacabana beach, Dr. A and I decided to play beach futebol with two boys, ages six and eight. The six-year-old had skills that awed me. The way he was able to maneuver in the dense sand and shoot the ball mid-air was very impressive to say the least. He enjoyed showing off to me once Dr. A told him that I played American soccer my whole life – Brazilians pride themselves with their way of playing. As we visited the favelas, I saw many children in the streets that looked just like the boys I was playing beach futebol with. Dr. A told us that these kids will do anything to get out of the favelas – excel in school, sports, arts, etc. I then thought to myself that the six-year-old boy was probably so skilled because all he did was practice every day; That’s his chance to get out of the slums.

I enjoyed the various corporate visits we had the opportunity to experience. My favorite visit was to the school in Farroupilha, Escola Presidente Dutra. We were able to tour the school, learn about the Brazilian education system, and have recess as we played futebol with the children. I was shocked with the real world subjects the children are taught at such a young age. Some examples are tax education, how to manage their money in order to purchase both necessities and wants, how to choose healthy produce at the grocery store, and the importance of conservation. I think that this is great because it gives Brazilian children early exposure. If for some reason they are not able to continue school, they have more than the basic knowledge to function in life. This is significantly different from the Texas public education I had. I was never taught any of these skills; either my parents taught me or I had to Google it when I came across the situation.

Why are there no decent places open to eat at 4 PM? Why does it take so long to check into a hotel? Why am I allowed to take an unopened bottle of Guarana through airport security? When the group had a question about why Brazilians did something a certain way, Dr. A would repeatedly answer, “It’s the Brazilian way.” I learned that this ‘Brazilian Way’ translates to a relaxed way of life where you simply live in the moment. As a supply chain major, it was slightly frustrating at times to notice the inefficiency of their processes. I had to remind myself that I was a visitor to the country and must assimilate to the culture. My hardest adjustment was the language barrier. All the countries I had previously visited considered tourism to be of high priority, therefore, many of the areas could at least speak basic English. Since we visited many low tourist areas in Brazil to eat and go shopping, I discovered very quickly that English was not a common language for the locals. The difficulty of ordering food or finding something in a store became troublesome. However, with a positive attitude, it became a fun adventure to communicate and be pleasantly surprised with the food that arrived in front of me. Towards the last few days of the trip, I noticed that we were all relying less on Dr. A’s translations and more on our learned knowledge of Portuguese!

Brazil was the best adventure I could ask for in the middle of my senior year at Texas A&M. I am grateful for the priceless moments I captured on my GoPro, the inside jokes made throughout the group, the clothes in Renner’s “saldo” section, the delicious açaí bowls, and most importantly, Dr. A. We were each able to have unique perspectives on Brazil since Dr. A made sure that we were not narrow-minded to only the tourist familiarities. As I reflect back on the two weeks abroad, I learned not only about the stunning country of Brazil but also about myself. I was forced to always be prepared and handle situations that I would never have the opportunity to otherwise. I am thankful for the experience because when I am overwhelmed with the ‘American Way,’ I will always remember how to live the ‘Brazilian Way.’

See you again someday, Brazil. Tchau!

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

School may have started a few days ago, but it seems like just yesterday that we were sitting on the beaches of Floripa in Brazil, basking in the sunlight and enjoying a cup of acai. Come to think of it, the time that we spent there was some of the most relaxing days of my life: every aspect of those moments of just walking the stretches of beach, listening to the waves, sinking our toes in the sand, was soothing. With the hustle and bustle that comes with a new semester, there’s so much I would give to regain that feeling of calmness.

Of course, chilling at the beach was not the only thing we did in Brazil; we also had the pleasure of visiting some of the nation’s top companies. Marcopolo, one of such companies, is a bus manufacturer that ships its products globally. Once inside the factory, we were able to see the process that each of their buses went through to completion. The most interesting fact that stood out from this trip was that no two buses in the factory were ever the same due to the customization that each one went through, from the types of buses that were requested to the designs that were painted on the sides. And paint they did, from intricate symbols and drawings to simple patterns. It was quite evident that each bus was handled with care and created with the highest quality in mind, which was a breath of fresh air from all the mass production that occurs in manufacturing in today’s society.

We also visited FGV, one of the world’s top business universities. They offered state-of-the-art facilities, outstanding professors, and coffee machines that gave out free coffee (though everyone seemed most excited about the free coffee more than anything). While the size of the school was smaller than that of Texas A&M University, it did not detract from the quality of the education that students received from this prestigious school. Security was especially top-notch, as we got multiple glares from all the security officers at their stations as we walked past. Slightly unnerving at times, but nothing that could possibly discourage prospective students, especially with the new EBAPE program set to foster more learning and knowledge in the business world.

Throughout the trip, I was surprised to see that Brazil reminded me of Malaysia, which was where I lived for a year and a half. There was not only a juxtaposition of trees and building in every city that we were in, but also of the rich and poor; you would see the expensive apartment complexes of the rich down one side of the street, and the run-down buildings of the poor down the other. Downtown areas were very beautiful, with tall buildings and tourist attractions, but they were equally as dangerous, with pickpockets and thugs. The terrain was also very similar: the mountainous vineyard area we visited were like the Cameroon and Genting Highlands, with the dense forests and slightly chilly climate. It all seemed very familiar as we were driving around on the bus, and I felt as though I were back in Kuala Lumpur.

One of the biggest highlights of this trip was going on top of the Sugarloaf mountain. It takes two cable cars to get to the very top of the attraction, but it’s worth it in the end. Unlike Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf is a less popular attraction that is not as densely populated by tourists, but the view is amazing nonetheless. The entirety of Rio de Janeiro can be seen from the highest mountain, and it is a breathtaking sight, especially when viewed at night, when all the lights are on. Christ the Redeemer can even be seen in the distance, a small dot in comparison to its enormous size. Although the statue is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is the main attraction of Rio, there is no doubt that Sugarloaf mountain is the home of the best view of the big city.

My visit to Brazil was a very memorable one, and I am so glad that I decided to take part in this amazing journey. Through corporate and cultural visits, I was able to see the true culture of Brazil and see what an amazing country it was from the inside. I hope to visit again someday to experience all of this again! Tchau, Brazil!

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

Missing Brazil!

As I start my semester, I find myself reminiscing about Brazil and wondering what I would be up to if I had extended my trip and stayed there. I would likely be laying out on the Copacabana beach, taking in the sun and enjoying a fresh acaí bowl. It reminds me how much I would like to return to Brazil in the near future.

While I roam the halls of Mays business school, I got reminded of the FGV school in Rio, and the similarities between the two. The professors are both extremely passionate about what they do (sometimes in Rio, they are not even getting paid!), and they are both difficult to get into. There are many more differences, in my opinion. Students of Texas A&M can simply walk to class and hop on the bus to head home without a second thought. Students attending FGV must clutch their backpacks close and dress like they don’t own anything of value. If I were walking around A&M and saw an armed security guard with an assault rifle, I would be a little startled to say the least. At FGV, it is just an average Tuesday.

However, just because there are some security differences, does not mean that they are in any way less qualified. They have more technologically advanced study rooms than any US school I have ever seen. They are specifically designed to stimulate the students’ minds and help them solve real world cases. This comes in handy because they work closely with the government of Rio to help solve some of the economical and societal problems that hinder the city. I was extremely impressed with how advance they were in their studies and problem resolution skills.

One of the cultural visits that struck out to me was the Christmas show in the small german town near Caxias. There was so much to explore in that small area! Our group went to three different chocolate shops simply because we could not get enough. My family was happy to hear about this upon my return home because I brought them some sweet souvenirs. Our group attended two very different Christmas shows. One of them was for children, but I could still relate to what they were saying. I sat next to Dr. A, so he translated everything and I was able to see the beauty of the message. They needed all of the children to share their love and happiness in order to get the Christmas lights on and the spirit of Christmas to return. At the end, I was surprised when they blasted out snow at us! It was 80 degrees outside, and I was sitting in snow. It truly was magical.

My expectations were beyond exceeded with the second show. It was a beautiful Christmas story about a family getting together once again for the holidays. I nearly teared up at the end when the grandma was able to hug her grandchildren for the first time in so long. The fireworks were more grande than anything else. Every time I thought, “wow, this must be the end, there’s no way they can beat that!”, they went ahead and beat it with bigger and better fireworks. I was astounded and couldn’t believe my eyes. They handed all of us candles and as I looked at the giant stadium filled with light, the message of Christmas struck. I am so thankful Dr. A took us to that show because I was able to see how passionate their citizens are about Christmas!

When I spoke with some of the Brazilian citizens, I was surprised to see how different their societal culture is. They are much more open and free there about their sexuality and inner selves. As I would walk around the streets of Rio with my fellow classmates, I would see men rocking dresses and women wearing almost nothing. They were completely unashamed and it was refreshing to see a people so open about who they are.

I even had a few conversations with people asking how they are able to dress this way so freely, and they simply said that it is the way it is done in Brazil. You are who you are, and people will accept you for it. I saw people walking around with all different colors of hair, and they were beautiful!

Overall, I had such an amazing experience and I owe the experience of a lifetime to Dr. A. I went into it expecting a study abroad trip, and I walked out with an experience of a lifetime.

OBRIGADA 4EVR.

-Ashley Amir

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

Oi! I am officially having Brazil withdrawals as I sit here and finish off my last semester at Texas A&M. Participating in this study abroad experience was a perfect way to send me off into the real world. The trip was nothing short of a dream. The things I was able to experience and see are difficult to put into words. I do not think I can begin to explain how beautiful it all was.

My favorite corporate visit was when we went to visit Escola Presidente Dutra, which is a local school in Farroupilha. The school is actually on summer break, but several faculty and even students went out of their way to show up to the school just to welcome us. We were received with open arms and the school was eager to show us who they are. Our main host showed us a video that was created just for us to see who they are and the many opportunities the students are presented with. I was beyond impressed with how much the students are exposed to given the lack of resources the school has. The teachers are truly passionate about helping their students succeed and prepare them for the real life. They are constantly coming up with fun, yet insightful ways to motivate their students.

After the introduction to the school and its people, we were able to interact with the students and play some futbol or what we would call soccer. I truly enjoyed this time running around and not needing a common language to communicate with the locals. After a fun game of soccer, the school had parents volunteer to cook for us. This was such a kind gesture and the food was amazing. It was nice to be on that so called “Brazilian time” and not keep track of what time it was and whether we had spent too long at the table or not. It was simply us interacting with the locals. The next treat was a professional lesson to Capoeira, which is kind of like martial arts in Brazil. This was quite something. Although I am sure none of us mastered it, it was cool to be introduced to Capoeira. Although it was a school, it felt like a home. The school was willing to offer us so much, even though they receive so little from the government. My time at the school definitely made me reflect on how lucky I was growing up and continue to be.

Another cultural visit that I absolutely loved was visiting Gramados. This was a German town and even though we were into the New Year, the Christmas decorations were still up. You could feel that Christmas spirit everywhere you walked. While in Gramados, we were treated to two shows. The first show was mostly for the children, and seeing how I am a child at heart when it comes to Christmas, I absolutely loved it. The show had a sweet message, and they even made it snow! Sure enough it was not real snow, but at the moment it felt like it was a white Christmas. The second show, Natal Luz, was beyond beautiful. It gave out the message of what the holidays are really for; family. The show was more like a musical and every time they started singing, I got goosebumps. Not to mention they had an amazing firework show. I loved being in Gramados and being able to share their love for the holidays.

One of the most relaxing, yet fun days was when we were in Bento Goncalves. First of all, we had free time here and it was just so peaceful. We had a game of futebol out in the fields. It was fun to have the whole group involved this time. It was quite the experience. After the game, we were taken on the back of a truck to where the waterfall was. The beauty of the waterfall was unexplainable. The water itself felt so fresh and pure. We seriously lost track of time here. We were all in so much awe; we did not stop to look at the time. Once it was time to go back, Dr. A had another surprise for us. We were allowed to go into their vineyards. There were rows and rows of grapes. The grapes were not like our American grapes at all. They were sweeter and have an interesting way of eating them. I absolutely loved them. We were able to play some futsal that evening, which is very similar to their futebol, only its not. That was a challenge of its own. The best part, however, was when dinner was ready. The locals there prepared dinner for us. It was definitely my favorite meal of the trip. Everything tasted so amazing. I wish I could go back and taste it once more.

The day we visited Christ the Redeemer is definitely on top of my list. It was just amazing. I had so many expectations, and it did not disappoint. I can see why it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was such a hot day and there were so many people, but the sight was worth it. From that mountain, we could see the Sugar Loaf. The Sugar Loaf was our next stop. Dr. A kept telling us it was better than the Christ the Redeemer, and once the sun started going down we could all see why. It was just a beautiful view of the city. Once the sun went down and the city lights came on, we were even able to see Christ the Redeemer lit up from there! I was able to get several pictures, but my pictures just don’t do it justice.

Overall, the time in Brazil flew by. It was nice to finally just lay back and relax and not have to worry about what comes next. I am constantly worrying about everyone and everything and Brazil helped me let go of that at least for the two weeks I was there. Although there are some things that my American self did not like, like finding a place to eat before 7 p.m., I understand and admire what the country stands for. The country was beautiful. Dr. A did an amazing job at planning everything for us. We truly got the Brazilian experience and I don’t think we would have been able to do that without Dr. A. He made the trip fun and genuine. Now as for the Brazilian way, I hope I can carry out some parts of their life styles.

Obrigada Brasil! Tchau!

Stephanie Guzman

 

 

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

It has been two weeks since we arrived from Brazil and it seems like it was just yesterday that I was laying on the beach eating acai and in awe of the fact that I was in Brazil. Applying to this program has been one of the best decisions I have made during my college career. As this trip embarked I was full of emotions and with a bit of fear of expectancy. I was about to travel to a third world country where I did not speak the language and with a group of 17 other students whom I did not know but those feelings quickly left as soon as we arrived to Sao Paulo. Dr. A rode in with “Viaggiotur700” bus and we began the start of two unforgettable weeks.

We had numerous cultural visits and it would be impossible for me to pick a favorite. Each one of them was completely different in its own way and taught me distinct things. But one of my favorite days in general was when we visited the beautiful waterfall in Bento Goncalves. The day began with a visit to downtown Caxias Do Sul, we then traveled to a church where a few locals were waiting for us. We played football with each other and since us aggies pride ourselves on winning one of us took a hit to the face to protect the goal. That’s when I decided to go and be supportive from the sidelines. After a good game we began our hike to the waterfall. I am not much of an outdoorsy person so I was not too thrilled about hiking. During our hike we encountered a bee hive and a few in the group got bit unfortunately, but when we arrived to the waterfall we saw that it was all worth it. But let me just say that none of us knew we were going to a waterfall, Dr. A loved to give us surprises, none of us had our swimsuit but at that time that was the least of our worries. We all ran into the freezing water and had the best of time. A bad tan and hundred pictures later we began our hike back up. The locals took us to some close by vineyards to pick some grapes. The grapes over there are completely different from the ones in American, they were a lot smaller and so much sweeter. They were so delicious that I might have eaten a few too many that I had a stomach ache after. When we returned back to the church a few more locals arrived and we played futsal with them, which is basically indoor soccer. Later that evening the locals at the church cooked us one of the best barbecues I have had in my life. Everyone there treated us like their guests of honor. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people. The day came to an end and we began our travel back to our hotel. This cultural visit taught me how to be appreciative of nature and be content with myself no matter the circumstances that surround my life.

One of my favorite corporate visits was to the elementary school Escola Presidente Dutra in Farroupilha. Although the students were on their summer break we met a few students and a lot of the teachers that taught there. They showed us a very informative video of what they do and what they teach their students. I immediately saw the type of education they provide to these students. One thing that stood out to me was that they teach these students some basic accounting. These kids are learning the difference between debits and credits in the 1st grade. They also educate them about taxes; why they exist, their use, what they go towards. I was amazed by the type of education these students receive. I learned about debits and credits till my first year of college and they are learning it in elementary school. Another thing that surprised me was that the students only have four hour school days, either morning or afternoon. This was very new to me but I can see certain advantages to this. The attention span of elementary students is not for an eight hour day.These students really immerse themselves in the education they are receiving during these four hours. After we went on to play soccer with a few of the locals that were there to receive us as well. A few of us in the group got their face painted by the teachers. The teachers and staff cooked a lovely meal for us. They had a variety of fresh fruit, different salads, and a beef dish; one of my favorite meals of the trip. After having lunch a capoeira instructor came to teach us the afro-brazilian martial art known as capoeira. This dance is a combination of dance and acrobatics that slave’s in the 16th century invented to disguise fighting. It was a very different and refreshing experience. Also, a reporter was at the elementary while we were there and she captured a picture of the whole group; A&M was featured on the cover of the local newspaper the next day. The teachers and staff at this very low income elementary were so passionate about their duty to these children. They were using everything they had in their power to give the students the best education possible. Leaving this elementary I learned that content and happiness depends on your own self. The people we met and interacted with talked to us in such a manner that their joy filled the room.

One of the things that stood out to mke most on this trip was the way the brazilian people live. They work to live, they don’t live to work like most Americans. I often found myself very anxious and annoyed in a lot of different situations because I am used to living my life in such a rushed manner. Why did it take hours to get checked into a hotel? Why was it okay to pass water bottles through airport security? Why was it mandatory to at least take an hour off to have lunch in the workplace? Why did kids only attend school four hours a day? The answer our professor gave us each time was “Its the Brazilian way”. These people live to enjoy their life. We as Americans are used to time being a limitation for everything we do. We wake up a certain hour to not catch traffic and not be late for work. We eat lunch at our desk to make sure we finish our workload for the day. We buy fast food for dinner to have time to answer emails when we get home from work. We stay up as late as possible to study for an exam the next day. I often find myself out of breath because I am always in a hurry in everything I do. Seeing the way Brazilians live was definitely one of the biggest culture shocks of this trip. Dr. A made sure we really immersed ourselves in their lifestyle for two weeks. We saw each end of the spectrum.

Lastly, I would just like to mention that I really enjoyed being in a country where I did not speak the language, it was a very unique way to learn how to actually communicate with people. I remember the first time I tried to order some coffee, it was probably one of the hardest tasks in my life. Although it took me like 30 minutes to order a coffee and probably made a lot of people mad behind me the barista and I just laughed the whole time because we could understand each other. I am pretty sure he felt bad for me and I ended up getting a free coffee out of it. Towards the end of the trip I can confidently say I could get around without my professor translating every step of the way. Being in Brazil taught me how to truly appreciate their language and culture. I am so thankful for this experience and I encourage anyone reading this to get out of their comfort zone, be courageous, and expose themselves to the beautiful world we live in.

Obrigada Brasil.

  • Tory Armendariz

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

It has been weeks since coming back from Brazil, and “Oh Nanana” by Bonde R300 is still on my mind. My roommate and I would listen to it all the time! We listened to it so much that it became THE song. It has only been a couple weeks and I already have Brazil withdrawals, the warm weather, the beach, the churros from the beach, the scenery, the German town, everything was so beautiful and worth it. Two weeks was definitely not enough and I can’t wait to go back!

We visited many companies and every company had its own unique experience and lots to talk about, but what impressed me the most was that in Escola Presidente Dutra, an elementary school in Farroupilha, they taught their students the science behind managing money. As soon as we got there, a few teachers, the principal and some students greeted us with huge smiles. Then, they directed us to a large room where the principal showed us a video of the different school activities and projects the students did throughout the year. These activities included school dances, school plays, and more. The project that caught my attention most was the one which the teachers taught their seven year old students how to handle money; the students learned how much each coin and bill is worth, and how to buy an item at the store. Most importantly the kids learned how taxes work in Brazil. I was amazed when they showed us a clip of the local news that they had won 1st place on teaching students how taxes work. The video showed a group of 1st graders going into a store with a grocery list ready to buy a few items. They got to count the money they owed and told the press where taxes would eventually go after you purchase an item. I didn’t learn about taxes till I was a teenager and let’s not talk even about credit cards! These kids are learning how the credit system works, can you believe that? After watching the video, I got a face paint while everyone else went to play soccer with the students. By the time I was done getting a face paint, everyone else had come back from playing soccer so we went to the cafeteria to eat. The teachers were so generous that they made lunch for us, the typical Brazilian lunch with beans, rice, meat, potato salad and fruit, which tasted amazing. After lunch, a capoeira instructor came to teach us how to dance. The dance was really fun but I had no idea how much time you had to put in to be an instructor. It takes years and years, its pretty much like earning a black belt in karate. I had lots of fun while we were at the school. I got to meet lots of awesome students, which we somehow managed to communicate.

A few days later, we took a trip to Dr. A’s home. First we played some soccer, which was super fun, even though I had never played before. Then, we did a small hike to go to a waterfall. The scenery was unbelievable, there were lots of trees, the waterfall was huge and the rest of the river was beautiful. After spending some time at the waterfall, we went to the vineyards and got to pick our own grapes. These grapes are different from the ones we have in the United States. People in Brazil don’t eat the skin of the grapes but they eat what’s inside along with the seeds. It was definitely a bit strange for us, at first, but the grapes were delicious. After eating lots of grapes we went back to the complex. Most of the group went to play futsal, which is similar to soccer; just the ball is a bit smaller so you need to have really good control over the ball. I remember not playing because I got stung by a bee on our way to the waterfall, so I just sat and watched everyone else play. Later, dinner was ready. The locals had cooked a delicious meal for us, which consisted of roasted chicken, potato salad, white bread, salad and steak. The chicken was by far the best chicken I had ever had in my entire life. It was crispy on the outside, juicy and soft on the inside and just thinking about it makes my mouth watery. For dessert we had flan, which is very similar to the homemade flan my grandma makes in Mexico. We also had a delicious peanut butter cake. Both desserts were very tasty. Although this day was very tiring I had lots of fun. Being able to experience what a typical Saturday would be life for Brazilians in the countryside was very neat. It reminds me what a day at the ranch was like back in Mexico. First play sports and walk around then later a barbecue. It was the perfect day to spend it with family and friends. The people there were so welcoming and generous for making us dinner. I have to admit having barbecue with the locals was one of many of my favorite parts of Brazil.

Next time I visit Brazil, I have to make sure I speak Portuguese at least enough to get by. The language barrier played a huge role while abroad. I honestly forgot what it was like not speaking the language. I thought I was going to be more than okay because I speak Spanish and Spanish is very similar to Portuguese but that was not the case. Ordering Starbucks was chaos but fun at the same time. Every time I would order, especially the first week, I would struggle so much that I would just point to what I wanted. Although it was hard to communicate, it was a learning experience. It showed me how humans that don’t speak the same language manage to communicate with gestures or technology. If it was not for mute gestures, I wouldn’t have eaten or bought anything! It was shocking to me how some people could understand more English than Spanish knowing Spanish sounds more similar to Portuguese. Then again my friends and I had this incident where we were trying to buy Brazil jerseys. My friend was talking really slow in Spanish for the worker to understand what we were trying to say. After a few words the man that was helping us sees us struggling then starts speaking English and says we can just ask him in English. At that moment we felt embarrassed because we had no idea he spoke English and we may have seemed a little rude. People in Brazil are more likely to speak English than any other language. You can see that English is a very important language in the world nowadays.

Brazil was full of life changing experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Lots of culture shocks that made me realize the world is vast. I noticed that lots of the places that we went to go eat were buffets, although the system to get food may be a little different. For example, we went to a pizza buffet, but we never got up to get food. This restaurant hands out small plastic squares that read either “salty,” “salty and sweet,” or “satisfied” for the people who are not hungry anymore. Also, people in Brazil eat everything with a fork and a knife, even French fries and pizza! Shocking right? Who would’ve thought people ate pizza with a fork! Pizza in Brazil is seen as a nice dinner and for us it can go both ways. Although differences may be small, life in Brazil is different to what we are accustomed to. Getting to experience Brazil’s culture first hand is something that I will always remember.

I truly enjoyed my time in Brazil!

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs

To begin my reflection on Brazil, let me first say: wow. I was absolutely stunned and amazed by Brazil’s beauty, culture, and language. Dr. A facilitated such a wonderful trip, with more than I could imagine or hope for in a study abroad, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate! There is no doubt that Mays has one of the strongest study abroad programs, and I would highly recommend the Brazil trip, or any trip, to anyone who is interested in learning more about yourself and global business.

I couldn’t possibly choose one corporate visit that was my favorite, but the most interesting to me was our visit to Salton. Salton is one of Brazil’s oldest wineries and is located in Bento Gonçalves in the south of Brazil. The property where they bottle, package, and distribute most of their wine is absolutely breathtaking. In the 90s, they built a mansion-like facility to host their production and corporate offices, as well as a place to host tours. I enjoy drinking wine with my family and trying different types and flavors, so learning about the different grapes and the production methods for each was fascinating. Being able to see how Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown was eye-opening, as I never knew the different ways that each type of grape grows. We ended the tour with a wine tasting, which made the tour very memorable. I was amazed by the high quality white, red, and sparkling wine they were able to produce, with such a great price. I have always been interested in eventually going into the wine business, and this visit opened my eyes to what it’s like for a company to be successful in a true emerging economy. All of the business visits that we took were true eye-openers to what Brazilian work culture is like, and the cultural visits that we took were a great window to what Brazilian culture is like.

I’m sure that everyone on the trip can agree that the cultural visits made the trip fantastic! We were able to experience so many different things;, I wish I could talk about each visit, but I’ll share my thoughts about Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro.

In my opinion, Florianopolis (Floripa) was a true insight to what Brazilian culture is like. Before we arrived, Dr. A shared many details about Floripa, but what struck me as the coolest was that many Brazilians choose to vacation in Floripa. As soon as we arrived at the beach on the first day, I felt like I was getting the most authentic Brazilian beach experience! It was so relaxing being able to soak up the sun, swim with my friends, and have a cachorro quente. It was very interesting to experience Brazilian culture in it’s true fashion; at the beach with some great food. Walking around the town was also fun to see the similarities with American beach culture as well. There were plenty of gift shops, vendors, good food, and relaxed people! I was also able to meet some Argentinians, who explained to us that Florianopolis is a very popular destination for Argentinians, as they like the beaches better in Brazil. Hopefully I can return to Florianopolis next December with my family, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll go to the same beach; Jurerê Internacional!

Rio de Janeiro was the best possible way to end the trip. It has to be the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in my life! It was so cool to see how the beaches juxtaposed themselves with the mountains. We were able to do so many things in Rio, the 2 days we were there were jam packed with all sorts of activities! Starting off with Christ the Redeemer was breathtaking. Being able to see one of the 7 wonders of the world in person was something I will never forget. The statue itself was massive, but the view made it so much more memorable. The statue is surrounded by a protected by a national forest, so the area surrounding the statue was a luscious and vibrant green. The landscape that we saw from the statue was incredible, we were right among the mountains overlooking the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. I have never been more awestruck by such a sight! As I was gazing over the area, Dr. A told me that Sugarloaf Mountain was even better, and after our experience at Christ the Redeemer, I doubted him just a bit, but he couldn’t have been more right. The views from Sugarloaf Mountain were similar to what Christ the Redeemer were, but since Sugarloaf Mountain is right along the coast, you could see everything! Dr. A planned the excursion right around sunset, we saw the most vibrant colors nature could produce. I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off the trip!

One thing I would really like to share about Brazil with anyone who is reading this is the food and diversity of Brazil. The food can be spoken about for ages, in my opinion, as it’s so incredibly tasty and fresh. One concept that’s popular in Brazil is the pay for weight system, which makes it easy to choose how much you pay, depending on how hungry you are. Everytime we ate somewhere where they had this buffet-style way of eating, all the food was fresh and hot, and there was a diverse range of things to pick from! One of my favorite meals was the barbeque we had at a nice restaurant, similar to Chauma Guacha, Texas de Brazil, or Fogo de Chao, where people come up to you with a variety of meats and other delicious foods. I was very overwhelmed by the amount of food that was offered to me, but it was all so delicious! Every meat they had was medium rare (the only way to eat red meat) and the other dishes were all perfectly cooked and seasoned. Not only was the restaurant good, but there are hundreds of similar ones in Brazil! For Americans, this kind of barbeque is a special treat, but for them, it’s a normal occurrence! Overall, most Brazilian food that I had was fresh tasting, delicious, and had great quality. After talking to Dr. A and making some cross-cultural comparisons, it seemed to me that Americans use preservatives more than any other country, and also serve generally unhealthy foods filled with carbs and starches.

The diversity of the people in Brazil struck me as well. Brazil has had immigrants come from all over; from Italy, Japan, Germany, Portugal, and Argentina to name a few. I was able to meet Brazilians whose parents or grandparents came from all over the world to start a new life in Brazil. One of the regions we went to, Serra Guacha, is known for the large amount of European immigrants they’ve received over the years. One of the towns we visited looked like something right out of a German history book! The people got along well from what I could tell, as far as equal treatment goes, but after doing some research, I learned that Brazil also has a heavy problem with racism, with a disproportionate amount of black and multiracial people are killed compared to whites being one large issue among many other societal and cultural problems surrounding race. I hope to do more research and learn more, as I can’t say that I know much!

Overall, this trip was something I will remember forever. I was able to connect with the other students on the trip, see some beautiful places, eat incredible food, and make some great memories. I truly hope that others at Mays choose this trip, as it has to be one of the best Mays offers. A big thank you to Dr. A and the Mays Center for International Business Studies e muito obrigado por ler isso!

Categories: 2018 On-site Blogs