Reason You Chose this Program: For two reasons: 1. I began learning Portuguese during and after a high school 6 month exchange program in Brazil and since then I have been in love with the country and the people, 2. My international studies major required that I spend at least 8 weeks abroad... I decided another 6 months would be perfect... what a better way to practice my Portuguese!
Describe the Housing Situation: Everyone in the program lives with a Brazilian. I lived with a single woman for a month in Sao Paulo, and with an older woman and her maid and her maid's young daughter while in Salvador. It was amazing. I still keep in touch and I hope to go back and see them. I get updates about the entire family and messages on Facebook about how they have "saudades de sua filha americana" (how they miss their American daughter) and I send them news and updates about my life as well.
Best Memory: One of my most cherished memories of Brazil is that of being able to volunteer at two different orphanages. On my last day of volunteering at the orphanage "Vó Flor"... I wasn't able to go at my normal time so I went alone in the morning. I said goodbye to the children, some still dressed in their jammies, and kissed them on the head. As I begin to walk away I hear my name being called "Tia! Tia!" (Portuguese for "aunt" used for women as a sign of affection/respect) I turn around and there I see one of my favorite little boys, Thiago, sticking his tiny little face through the gate. "Quero um beijo!" he keeps saying, "I want a kiss!". At this point I had already given him one... but who can say no to an adorable little 4 year old boy? If you choose to study abroad... choose to really see the culture... see the ups and downs and volunteer. You won't regret it.
Reverse culture shock: I believe that reverse culture shock is 100% worse than culture shock because it lasts so much longer. For me, it has literally lasted years. Once you get a taste for your country of choice, you'll always have it in your heart. Brazil will forever be a part of me. I love my host families like my own and I miss them all dearly.
Going abroad versus staying on campus, discuss: If you're a language major, you MUST study abroad; there is no other way to really learn the language. Being with the people, learning the accents, the nuances, slang and emotions of the people is the key to understanding the language. Not to mention the practice!
Fact about your host country that you think people would be surprised to learn: Portuguese is the 7th most spoken language in the world!