From the tropical regions of the north to the quaint German towns of the south to the tourist hub of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is as diverse a country as one can find in South America. If you’re thinking about studying abroad in Brazil, prepare yourself for a country that goes far beyond the stereotypes of bikinis and soccer balls. Brazil will overwhelm you with a plethora of hugs and kisses, sun, music, delicious food, amazing beaches, caipirinhas (the national drink of Brazil) and the nicest people you’ll meet in the world. So, it is time to add study abroad in Brazil to the top of your priority list!
As the largest country in Latin America, you definitely aren’t short of locations to choose from when it comes to studying abroad in Brazil. Stretching from the Amazon Basin in the north to the mighty Iguazu Falls in the south, Brazil has cities surrounded by rainforest and accessible only by river, coastal cities drenched in sunshine all year round, and cities that are vast, sprawling urban jungles. It all depends on what kind of experience you would like to have.
One of the most popular cities for study abroad in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a visually spectacular town, with jungle-covered granite peaks rising up all over the city, and a fringe of golden sand along the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. If you’re looking for the party, Rio is your best place to study in Brazil.
Famous for its beaches and saltwater lagoon, Florianopolis is another study abroad hotspot in Brazil. Split across the mainland and Santa Catarina Island, this city is island living and cosmopolitan vibes all wrapped up in one,
Another option for study abroad in Brazil, for those looking for a less traveled experience, is Salvador da Bahia. This northeast city has amazing beaches, great seafood, and a completely different culture than that of its counterparts in the south.
If you’re looking for a purely academic and Portuguese learning experience, Sao Paulo might be the place for you to study in Brazil. The economic and commercial hub of Brazil, Sao Paulo has the clearest accents and most prestigious universities.
Studying abroad in Brazil
Brazil has many world-ranked universities and is home to some of the best educational institutes in South America. Despite being a developing country, Brazil is a global player in education, making it an exciting choice for study abroad in South America.
Choosing to study abroad in Brazil is an opportunity for international students to deepen their understanding of Latin American studies, and of course Portuguese. As a developing nation, there are also ample opportunities for students to delve into subjects such as development studies, international business, law, and humanities. With severe social inequality, Brazil is known for its sprawling favelas, where extreme poverty and crime are rife. In this context, economics and political studies are especially relevant. As well as good course options, health and medicine students can often find volunteering opportunities to complement their studies in local communities in need of aid.
Brazilian universities typically have day and night schedules for students to choose from. Morning classes usually run from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and evening classes from 6 to 10 p.m. If you choose the morning schedule, your day might go like this: wake up at 6 a.m., eat a quick breakfast, hop on the bus to school (usually two reais), go to your three classes that morning, come home for a big lunch (as lunch is the biggest meal of the day in a Brazilian household), and then the rest of the day is yours. The evening course schedule is obviously better for late sleepers who are studying in Brazil!
The best universities are the public universities in Brazil, and private universities have a bit of a lower reputation; this is because admission to public universities rests solely on an intensely difficult admission test, so those who can’t pass the test pay tuition at a private university.
Scholarships & Costs
Brazil is not a cheap study abroad destination. The cost of living in Brazil is relatively high, compared to other South American countries. Having said that, tuition is free at state universities for international students. Private institutions charge fees, but they are usually only around $2000 per academic year.
In general, the costs of study abroad in Brazil, such as accommodation, food, entertainment, and transport, will be only marginally cheaper than North America. Despite rampant poverty in the favelas, international students will be living in areas classed as wealthy, where there are more conveniences but costs are higher.
To explore financial aid options, be sure to check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory. There are a number of organizations that sponsor students who want to study abroad in Brazil, it’s just a matter of finding a scholarship that fits your program and financial needs.
Accommodation & Visas
Study abroad programs in Brazil usually include accommodation, taking the stress out of your big move! The most popular living arrangement for international students studying in Brazil is homestays. However, some provided housing arrangements will involve sharing an apartment with other students in your program. If your accommodation isn’t provided, you can find rooms to rent online. This is a good way to break out of the international (typically English-speaking) crowd, and find local friends. Universities in Brazil don’t usually offer campus housing, however they can help in arranging homestays.
Most international students will need to apply for a student visa in order to study in Brazil. Student visas are valid for one year, but can be renewed if necessary. The application process is fairly straightforward, as long as you have a letter of acceptance from an approved Brazilian university, proof of funds to support yourself throughout your stay, and of course a valid passport. Then it is just a matter of filling out the relevant visa application forms, and waiting for your visa to be issued. This can take up to three months, so be sure to get started on the process early. You will need to apply for your visa via a Brazilian consulate in your home country, which will also be able to help you out with more detailed information about visa costs and requirements.
Benefits and Challenges
Language can be a potential barrier for international students who study in Brazil. Although the majority of Brazilians take English classes in high school and college, most of them do not speak a workable level of English. There’s good news, though!
Portuguese is not a difficult language to learn if you put your mind to it. If you can even slightly communicate in Portuguese, Brazilians are much more likely to open up to you, and you will do better in every aspect of Brazilian life. Brazilian professors love having foreign students and are extra willing to help you learn the Portuguese language.
Learning Portuguese has many benefits, including learning words like saudade. This is a Portuguese term that has no English equivalent, but it means a longing for a love that is gone. Studying abroad in Brazil will definitely rank as one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of anyone’s life.
One of the great benefits of study abroad in Brazil is the vibrant culture. A big part of a Brazilians lives is music, meaning if you study abroad in Brazil, it will become a big part of yours too. Brazilians have actually created their own genres of music. From axé (pronounced ash-shay) to samba to alternative, Brazilian music can get you on your feet to party with 10,000 people at Carnival (Brazil’s Mardi Gras) or propel you to a jazz club to chill with friends for a couple of hours. At first, when you hear the Carnival music with all its trumpet fanfare, you might ask yourself “what is this?” But when you’re in a group of thousands, pounding your feet to the same beat, you realize this might be the best music ever and could possibly explain why Brazilians are such a happy people!