"DO IT!! It is an amazing opportunity that is worth every single penny. If your program has a home-stay, really make that extra effort to interact with the host-family and ask questions and share experiences."
I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to not only visit another country as a tourist, but as a student -learning about the culture and history of the very cities I would be living in and visiting. I knew that with this opportunity I would be able to continue practicing my Portuguese, have a cultural immersion while living with a home-stay family, and study a topic I otherwise might not have studied in Berkeley.
My experience was so much more than I expected it to be. It really opened up my eyes to a new world and I got to learn about Afro-Brazilian culture and religion. Living with a Brazilian family exposed me to completely different family dynamics that I am used to, and I witnessed very interesting cultural differences in relationships and interactions between men and women.
Meeting incredibly sweet and kind-hearted Brazilians, and being able to see another beautiful part of the world and learning about its history.
Woke up, had breakfast, read, went to class, and I would either go to the beach or head home and then go out to Pelourinho or Rio Vermelho to grab a drink with some friends and dance to live music.
We had class Monday-Friday. Typically four out of the five days were lecture and the remaining day was discussion.
Each week we had a guest lecturer who came to speak on issues related to the week's topic. There were reading assignments for every lecture, four papers, a midterm and a final.
It was great to have guest lectures by professors from Brazilian universities, and our regular instructor was very knowledgable about Afro-Brazilian culture and made lecture fun and interesting.
Being able to participate in a Candomblé ceremony (religious ceremony).
Apply for scholarships! Speak with a financial aid counselor about your plans and ask them what financial options you have available.
My biggest challenge was trying to enjoy myself while being homesick and missing my family and partner. I would skype with both when I had free time and I mainly tried to keep myself from staying in my room all afternoon.
DO IT!! It is an amazing opportunity that is worth every single penny. If your program has a home-stay, really make that extra effort to interact with the host-family and ask questions and share experiences. Refrain from spending lots of time on the internet while you're abroad. Go out and explore new places instead - you're not paying all that money to be on Facebook and do things you could do back home!