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Brasil, Eu Te Amo

Traveling to Brazil to study Portuguese was never actually in my plan for life, let alone in my plan for what I was going to do the summer after my freshman year. Yet somehow, I managed to not only get accepted into the Harvard Summer School Program in Recife, Brazil, but I also became a part of the 50% of students that received funding from the Harvard Office of Career Services for this summer opportunity.


Maria on the beach.
Above: My first outing to the historic part of Recife, Brazil.

The fact that I was going to be in a foreign country speaking a language I had started to learn in January only hit me once I was on the plane from Dallas to São Paulo. While the fact that I’m fluent in Spanish really helped me learn  Portuguese, I was only conversational at best when I first got to Brazil, so it was a real adventure figuring out how to get around Recife while I continued learning Portuguese.

In my program, we had the opportunity to have a homestay, which meant that we got to actually live with Brazilian families. My homestay family was made up of a husband and wife, and their two daughters, who were both older than me. I absolutely loved living with a family because they were all so nice and really aimed to make my time there the best that it could be. They took me to visit the historic part of Recife, the beautiful beaches around where they lived, and they even helped me celebrate my birthday while I was there!


Maria with her host family.
Above: This is me posing with my host family on the last night of my program.

For the actual Harvard program, we focused on learning Portuguese by studying Brazilian history and culture, which involved going on many field trips around the city. We also traveled to a beach resort for a weekend, and we went to the Amazon rainforest for a week! While I was in Recife, I was also able to travel independently, including two trips to Rio de Janeiro, once to visit one of my college roommates, and the second time to get to know the city with some other girls in the summer program.


Maria posing with a snake in the Amazon.
Above: You can see what real fear looks like if you look into my eyes.


Maria posing with the Cristo Corcovado.
Above: I tried my best to not take be super touristy, but I couldn’t help and pull out this pose.

Thanks to this opportunity, I now have a connection with some amazing people in an incredible country, and I will never forget the summer after my freshman year.  I loved Brazil so much after that trip that I decided to apply to another program that would allow me to go to Sāo Paulo this upcoming January!

 

About the author

Hi, everyone! My name is María Pérez Franco. I’m a junior living in Currier House concentrating in economics with a secondary in sociology. I was born in Guatemala, but moved to Dallas, TX with my... View full profile

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