Bom dia! by William Smith

I’ve been in São Paulo for a little over two weeks now, and I have just three words to share: I LOVE BRAZIL. The food is amazing. The people are great. The language is beautiful. The city is unlike any other. The music is one of a kind.  *Deep Breath.*

Okay.  In all seriousness though, FGV is a fascinating place, and all of my professors are so neat! One of my professors, Professor Oliver Stuenkel, is regularly quoted by The Economist, The Diplomat, and The New York Times about BRIC countries.  Just last week he was asked by the government to visit Brasilia to discuss Brazilian foreign policy in Eastern Asia.  How Cool!

To be honest, at first I was nervous- I’m the only Tulane student here in São Paulo, and I didn’t really know anyone here. When I arrived to the first session of orientation, everyone was speaking something other than English.  Nevertheless, I finally gathered up the courage to speak to someone, and slowly but surely I’ve made best friends.  Some of my closest friends are German, Danish, Italian, Finnish, and Brazilian.  I’m even living in an apartment with Graduate students from Brazil, Germany, and Slovakia.

This past weekend I traveled to Ilhabela, Brazil, which literally translates to beautiful island.  Its name is no misnomer.  I felt like I was in a dream.  Fifteen exchange students and I drove four hours across the São Paulo state countryside and explored on my first full weekend here.  I’ll attach a picture below.  Never have I ever seen water so blue and palm trees so perfect.  Brazil’s beaches are to die for.

Here in São Paulo city I’ve already attended a live sertanejo concert, which is Brazil’s version of country Portuguese music.  If you’re ever headed to São Paulo and you’re looking for a great nightclub to watch live music, Villa Mix is the place to go.  The music was amazing, and the girls were also something to write home about.  Sorry Profé. Love, I’ll keep the blog PG.   But actually- this city never sleeps. I hear construction from my window in my apartment from 6:00am until 8:00pm.

Lastly, I couldn’t resist skipping out on a career opportunity while I’m studying here. I recently applied for investment internships here in São Paulo to keep me busy, and I had an investment banking interview in Portuguese! And I thought having interviews in English was difficult…  It turns out that the CEO must have found my accent to be entertaining, because I found out this evening that I was selected to be the analyst intern for Brava Capital, a micro investment banking firm, for the next four months!  I can’t wait to learn from some very talented bankers and to utilize what I learned this past summer at Owl Creek Asset Management with Jeff Altman in New York.  Thanks for tuning into my blog posts, and I’ll keep you posted in a few weeks.  Below are some pictures from my adventures.  Also, if you’re on instagram, follow me @wiwnobrasiw – a Portuguese joke that translates to Will in Brazil if spelled properly.  Ciao Ciao.

Abraços,

William

I’m Never Buying a Textbook Again: Education in Peru by Audrey Preston

It’s time to put the “study” in “study abroad”.  The first few weeks felt a lot like a very strange vacation, but now after a few weeks in class, I’m beginning to settle in to the routine of learning. Despite some key differences, university in Peru seems strikingly similar to higher education in the United States.

Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
PUCP, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Some of the differences are glaringly obvious. The most prominent is that almost all classes are three hours long, once a week. They’re also taught entirely in Spanish. That took some getting used to. Also, very few professors use textbooks. Instead, they teach with excerpts of books and scholarly articles. Copies of all of the course materials are given to one of the “fotocopiadoras”, where for a small fee, you can receive a photocopy of all of the coursework. It runs about $3 per class, in contrast to hundreds of dollars to rent or buy textbooks and access codes back home. My bank account appreciates it, although I was very confused.

Many of the differences are more subtle. For example, it’s really hard to find a plain notebook here; virtually all of them have stickers and decorations, or they’re graph paper. Also, the notion of “tardiness” doesn’t really exist. Professors usually arrive to class around ten minutes late, and students gradually filter in for another twenty. Any classes in the Facultad de Generales Letras (equivalent to core requirements) generally have a median age of 17, since college starts younger here. There are so many things that catch me by surprise every day.

Despite the differences, I have been struck at how similar the actual classes are at PUCP and Tulane. All of my courses almost perfectly correspond to classes at Tulane. We use many of the same materials, and most of my economics references are written in English. Many of the course documents and PowerPoint lectures are posted online, in a virtual campus that reminds me a lot of Blackboard. If it weren’t for the language, these classes would fit right in at Tulane.

Using tools online to assist in translation from Spanish to English, and taking notes on graph paper!
Using tools online to assist in translation from Spanish to English, and taking notes on graph paper!

Even a few weeks into the semester, I’m still getting used to the many adjustments, big and small. While I’m not too fond of writing on graph paper, I really appreciate not having pay for textbooks. Overall, university in Peru is a lot more similar to the United States than I would have expected, down to the long lines at the campus coffee shops.

Drinking coffee in Peru
Drinking coffee in Peru

But who can blame them?