The Trials And Tribulations of Applying for a Year Abroad in Brazil

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I have just finished my second year of studying Spanish, Portuguese and European Studies and in a little over a month I’m moving to Belo Horizonte in Brzail to study at a university there. I could also have chosen to try and find a job, but work visas aren’t very easy to get for Brazil, and I always wanted to study for my year abroad.

Belo Horizonte (otherwise known as BH) is a city with 5 million people a few hours inland from Rio of which no one including myself has heard, until the University told me that I’d been accepted there. This was a shock because I hadn’t actually applied there, my supervisor had only told me that they would be accepting an extra person a few weeks before.

I originally applied to go to Florianopolis in the south of Brazil to study at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), this was the only university in Brazil I could apply for since I study BA Modern Languages, as opposed to the integrated masters course.

Only integrated masters students can apply to the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Belo Horizonte.

Luckily, the university opened up a place for me even though I don’t do the masters course. This turned out to be a real stroke of luck since it later turned out that the legal department at our university managed to forget to renew their legal agreement with UFSC, which the two students who were accepted there only found out after they had booked their flights.

So far, I realise it sounds like a bit of a shambles. That’s because it was. We informed the University of our year abroad choices in November, because they apply to your university of choice for you. Whilst people who wanted to go to Spanish speaking Latin American universities were asked to go for interviews, the five people who applied to Brazil weren’t, we just had to wait. Flight prices rose steadily and we still had no idea where we were going.

Everyone going to other Latin American countries seemed to know that they had been accepted, but we were only told in March at the same time as Erasmus students. We were later told that this was because they had been working to allow as many people as possible to go to Brazil, since there weren’t enough spaces for all five of us. No one told us this when we kept emailing the department in a panic, not even the exchange coordinator for Brazil.

Finally, I could breathe. I knew where I was going, I could book the (extremely expensive) flight. I was happy until I found out that I had more paperwork to do for UFMG so that I could get the acceptance letter that would allow me to get a visa. As I type this, I still don’t have it, but it should arrive before the end of the month. Then, I just need to get a visa and get on a plane to start my next adventure.

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Spanish, Portuguese and European Studies student, on her year abroad in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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