Vinayak Rao, Brazil

Vinayak Rao studied abroad with ISA in Florianópolis, Brazil, in Spring 2013.

Photo: Vinayak Rao in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because traveling, as clichéd as it sounds, broadens your perspective and is the best way to learn about life in another country. Only when you have lived abroad in another country will you understand the significance of this.

Why did you choose this location for your study abroad experience?

I went to Brazil last semester because it was always one of my dreams to go there. South America has always fascinated me and Brazil, by far, is the country that amazed me the most. When I was a child, a family friend gave me a children's book about The Amazon Rainforest. Upon reading that, I was fascinated by everything about the jungle. My fascination turned to a dream and by studying abroad in Brazil, my dream became a reality.

What was the most challenging part of being in another country?

Upon arriving in Brazil, I thought the language barrier would be the greatest challenge being there. However, I learned Portuguese surprisingly fast, because of the fact I was immersed in the culture. The most challenging part was adapting to the small cultural differences that Brazilians have. Certain norms in the US are cultural taboos abroad, and this certainly applies to Brazil. For example, Sunday in the States is a day of football and BBQ. In Brazil, Sunday is a day of worship and family, where entire sections of the country shut down to go to church and to be with their family. 

What memorable experiences did you have while studying abroad?

Trekking the Amazon Rainforest was the most memorable experience I've had in my life. It was a lifelong dream of mine to see the Amazon Jungle and without studying abroad in Brazil, I don't know when it would have happened. 

What were some important things you learned while studying abroad?

The most important thing I learned is Portuguese. Learning another language is vital in today's world. It gives you a competitive advantage in the job market and, more importantly, it gives you the chance to communicate with people in another way, allowing you to connect with them even more.

What do you think is the most important thing for students who choose to study abroad to prepare before they leave?

The most important thing is to make sure that you can financially cover all of your expenses while abroad. Studying abroad can be very light on your wallet or it can take a toll on your bank account. The choice is up to you on how you want to live your life while abroad. Yes, traveling around every weekend will be an amazing experience, however, it probably will cost a lot of money! Make sure your finances are in order beforehand and that you've planned everything out.

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