Study Abroad in Sao Paulo

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is the largest city in the western hemisphere and the primary economic and commercial motor of Brazil. A metropolis known widely for its prestigious festivals and events, towering skyscrapers, and immense global influence, Sao Paulo is the perfect place to study abroad for students who want to immerse themselves in the face of modern Brazil. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the coastal ranges of southeastern Brazil, Sao Paulo is a vastly impressive city that will prove culturally enriching, educative, and downright fun while studying abroad.

Studying Abroad in Sao Paulo

As a premier global city and the largest in the Americas, you can imagine that the opportunities to study abroad in Sao Paulo are vast. Students who are interested in getting a small taste of the Brazilian culture while earning some academic credit and having a blast exploring the city should consider one of the many summer programs that are available in Sao Paulo. These tend to last two to eight weeks and often include many field trips and cultural outings as a group.

Students who want to immerse themselves more fully into Sao Paulo city life should consider studying abroad for a fall semester, spring semester, or even an entire academic year. Some study abroad programs have their own satellite institutions or partner schools in Sao Paulo where you can take courses with local staff. These are often designed to introduce foreign students to the city and its regional context in Brazil. Some common subject areas include history, economics, sociology, and other cultural studies.

The course catalogue of such programs can be limited, but the benefit is that you can take classes in English. Most Brazilian universities use Portuguese as the medium of education, so while often study abroad programs allow you to take classes at a local campus, it is generally under the condition that you already know enough Portuguese to understand what your professor is talking about. Portuguese language courses are also offered as a component of most study abroad programs in Sao Paulo. 

Life in Sao Paulo

There are nearly 12 million people living in the city of Sao Paulo, and over 20 million including the surrounding metropolitan region. It is also extremely diverse, hosting the largest population of Japanese, Italian, and Arab migrants outside of those respective countries. Take into account its vast economic, cultural, and commercial influence, and no wonder Sao Paulo is considered to be the premier global city in South America. 

Studying abroad in Sao Paulo, you can feel its prominence in how the city runs. Though the traffic and population density can be overwhelming at times, the non-stop stimulation is part of what makes Sao Paulo such a fun and enriching place to study abroad. When you’re not in school you will never tire of wandering the streets and perusing its many highly regarded museums, parks, and historical monuments. Throw in Sao Paulo’s passion for sports, entertainment, and extravagant festivals, and never will there be a dull moment studying abroad here.

To make your leisure time even more enjoyable, it might please you to know that Sao Paulo is also infamous for its cuisine and nightlife, and the beach is only a short ride away outside of the city. Making friends from all over the world, exploring the largest city in the Americas, creating memories you will never forget – what is there not to like about studying abroad in Sao Paulo?

Costs & Affordability

Sao Paulo is an affordable destination where to study abroad. The local currency is the Brazilian real, which is equivalent to about 30 cents US. The city is marked by significant degrees of inequality, which might induce some culture shock for students adjusting to local norms, but it is relatively easy to get by here on a small budget. Just learn to stay away from the tourist traps and ritzy areas!

Studying abroad should be affordable for all students. Talk to your home university about opportunities for financial aid, and also check out our Scholarships Directory to learn about the great opportunities for students studying abroad in Brazil.

Accommodations & Visas

Studying abroad in Sao Paulo, you will likely have the opportunity to either live in a homestay or student housing. Staying with a local host family is a great way to enter yourself intimately into the Brazilian culture, and if you are learning Portuguese it can also be an additional outlet to develop your language skills. Student housing can also be a great way to meet peers from all over the world.

You will likely need a student visa to study abroad in Sao Paulo, depending on your home country and how long your intended stay is. Talk to your study abroad program about the best way to go about obtaining the proper documentation, and also check out our Brazilian Embassy Directory for more specific information regarding your situation.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Know Your History. Studying abroad in Sao Paulo is a great opportunity to learn all about the roots of the city and history of the South American continent. Named Brazil’s ‘Imperial City’ upon independence from Portugal in the 19th century, Sao Paulo has been central to the development of Brazil ever since.

Portuguese, Anyone? Brazil may be the only country in South America which speaks Portuguese natively, but this alone makes it the most widely spoken language on the continent. Brazil is home to over 200 million people, while the rest of South America’s population combined hovers slightly lower than that. Bottom line - learning Portuguese is worth the effort.

A Grand Adventure. Exploring Sao Paulo and adapting to the intricacies of its local culture will be challenging at times, fun at others, and, in the end, incredibly rewarding overall. Studying abroad will be one of the best experiences of your life, and Sao Paulo will make sure you squeeze every last drop out of the experience.

Read our comprehensive guide on studying abroad in Brazil.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Sao Paulo


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