Brazil Study Abroad Country Profile

Brazil Overview

The giant of South America, Brazil is a far-reaching country with many diverse landscapes and subcultures. It is the fifth largest country in the world, both in size and population but unlike the rest of South America, Brazilians speak Portuguese. Brazil is notable for many of its cultural traditions, especially soccer, music, and the celebration of Carnaval, but it is also becoming an increasingly important player in the global economy, especially when it comes to development and the environment. A member of the BRIC countries, which include Russia, India, and China, Brazil has the world’s largest sustainable biofuels economy. Brazil is a special place with friendly people where students are able to learn a lot and tailor their experiences to their unique needs and interests.

Cultural Highlights

When most people think of Brazil, they think of its major southern cities – Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. These cities are in many ways the cultural capitals of Brazil. Rio is known for its beaches, most famously Ipanema and Copacabana, as well as the annual celebration of Carnaval, which occurs immediately before Lent (Brazil is primarily a Catholic country), and includes parades, music, and of course, samba. (Carnaval is celebrated throughout the country, but it is truly an experience in Rio). Rio is also famous for its notorious slums called favelas. While some favelas are generally considered off-limits to tourists and the general populace, many favelas provide unique opportunities for travelers and students to get involved with underprivileged community members.

The culture throughout the rest of the country is similar, but still unique in its own way. A laid back beach culture is prevalent at the coast, and much of the country is riddled with quaint colonial villages. There is the capital city of Brasilia, and the arid lands to the north have a unique culture infused with interesting indigenous traditions. And of course there is the far north of Brazil, with the Brazilian Amazon and a more prevalent indigenous culture.

Popular Fields of Study

Brazil provides a great context for studying a variety of political, economic and social issues. Brazil is a great choice for learning the Portuguese language, and many people that have had previous exposure to Spanish find the transition to Portuguese fairly easy. Brazil’s growing economy provides a great backdrop for the study of economics and the social issues associated with economic development. Brazil is also a great choice for students interested in environmental issues – Brazil has made headway in many areas, but there are many unique environmental issues that deserve attention and will become increasingly important in the coming years. Brazil’s many unique ecosystems and landscapes provide a variety of environmental and ecological backdrops for Brazil study abroad students’ academic experiences.

Why Study Abroad in Brazil?

Brazil has many unique advantages as a study abroad destination. Here are ten reasons why you should consider studying abroad in Brazil.

1. Learn Portuguese

With the largest Portuguese-speaking population in the world, Brazil is the perfect place to learn the language (though there are many differences between Portugal Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese).

2. Beaches

It’s hard to think of Brazil without thinking of the beaches, and whether you are spending a break in Rio or participating in a program in Bahia, Brazil is replete with gorgeous beaches all along its coast.

3. Friendly People

Regardless of where you are, people in Brazil are friendly, happy, and eager to interact with visitors from other countries. Take advantage by exchanging ideas and making new friends.

4. Carnaval

The quintessential Brazilian cultural event, nothing compares to experiencing Carnaval in Rio.

5. Global Influence

Brazil is growing in size and GDP and, as a BRIC country, it provides a unique opportunity to study the impacts of development and the roll that Brazil will fill within the global economy in the coming years.

6. The Amazon

With domestic flights to Manaus, Brazil study abroad students from all disciplines have access to the Brazilian Amazon during their time abroad or while studying independently afterwards.

7. Experience Latin America

Brazil provides a great starting point for experiencing Latin America, whether you’re traveling to Buenos Aires or beyond. Flights are also cheaper when you depart from within South America.

8. Universities

Brazil has a network of excellent universities, many of which are very competitive. There are also specific colleges for various fields of study.

9. Unique Cultural Identity

Brazil’s people come from a variety of countries, heritages, and cultural traditions. Experience the mixture of influences in every aspect of Brazilian life, from food to art and religion.

10. Soccer

If you are a football fan, there are few places on earth where the tradition, fervor, and nationalism are stronger than Brazil. Opportunities to play are also around every corner.

Brazil Study Abroad Statistics

Brazil Country Ranking: 20

(based on total outbound U.S. students)
  • % of U.S. students: 1.0%
  • Total US Students 2006/07: 2,524
  • Total US Students 2007/08: 2,723
  • Yearly 2007/08 Trend: +7.9%
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