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Jessica Pereira

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: English & Comparative Literature
Program: CET Brazil: Social Justice & Inequality
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Term: Spring 2020


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Prior to coming to UNC, I always knew that I wanted to study abroad; it was simply a matter of when and where. I decided to study abroad in Brazil during my sophomore year, because I wanted to explore my cultural heritage, learn Portuguese, and challenge myself. I specifically chose the CET Brazil: Social Justice & Inequality program because of its extracurricular focus on social justice issues and the Brazilian studies coursework. I also liked that the program was located in Brazil's cultural hub, São Paulo.


What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience, I learned that I can be very adaptable. From having nearly everything that could possibly go wrong at the airport go wrong, trying to figure out how to get by in a country with limited language proficiency (in the beginning), dealing with an unexpected family illness while abroad, and having to leave due to COVID, I was constantly challenged. However, in being presented with these obstacles, I learned how to navigate them on my own as well as when to ask for help. I learned that I am far more resilient than I give myself credit for.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
My favorite memory from the program was attending Carnaval 2020. It was an amazing opportunity to witness the culture and spirit of Brazil while sharing the experience with friends from my program. From the samba music, the colorful, elaborate costumes, the crowds of people in the streets dancing at the bloquinhos, and the samba parade, it was an experience I will never forget. Other favorite memories include traveling to Ubatuba with friends, weekly dinners with my roommates, and exploring the city of São Paulo with classmates from my Portuguese class. Although my time was cut short due to COVID, I had so many amazing memories and met so many amazing people. I cannot wait to return to Brazil to study abroad again in the future!


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
The biggest piece of advice that I have is to ask for and/or look for help. Whether it's a family member, a professor, your study abroad advisor, your study abroad program coordinator, a resident director, your host family, a health professional, or even a simple Google search, seek out help if you need it, regardless of how big or small the problem is.There are a number of resources to help you, whether it's for a health issue, finding volunteer work or an internship, learning how to use the public transportation system, or trying to find somewhere to eat that will meet your dietary needs. There are so many people and resources giving you support while you are studying abroad; don't be afraid to use them!