domingo, 8 de março de 2009

Tips on How to Live, Study and Work in Brazil - Part 1 - How to Study.

This blog's title means "Living far Away" (from home). It is aimed to assemble "information, tips and opinions about living, studying and working around the world". Although its main public are Brazilian graduates (mainly because it's written in Portuguese and nothing else) who intend to live, study and work abroad, I found it would be appropriate and useful to write some tips for foreigners who wish to live, study or work in Brazil. So here we go.

As I intend to write about some topics related to living in Brazil (in a sort of series), today we will focus on how to study in Brazil.

Why to study in Brazil?

Studying in Brazil is a real multi-cultural, ethnic-diversed and exciting experience. From the North to the South regions, you will find entirely different cultures and customs with one point in common: Brazilians are normally very easygoing and helpful with foreign students.

There are big parties and festivals, such as the famous carnivals of Rio de Janeiro, Recife (picture on the right) and Salvador, which are totally different between them.

Apart social activities, Brazil is the Latin America’s largest market, the fifth most populous country in the world (with over 180 million people) and the world’s tenth largest economy. Since economic reforms in the 1990s, the country’s finance has been experiencing a high level of stability. According to The Economist (June 26th, 2008), Brazil’s economy grew the average of 4.4% an year from 2004 to 2007 and it was forecast to annually grow the average of 4.1% for 2008-2012.

After the global crisis initiated in 2008, it has been considered one of the most stable countries to invest in the world and it is still expected a scenario of economic growth for the coming years. To speak Brazilian Portuguese, to know deeply about Brazilian culture and to have social links with Brazil are great advantages in the world market.

Brazilian Regions

Your first step on moving to Brazil is to choose where you wish to study. This includes the city and the institution. Be aware that each region and city of Brazil might have different levels of social and economic development. Brazil is divided into 5 regions: North (green area at the map), Northeast (light green), Centre-west (yellow), Southeast (light brow) and South (blue). The cities in the Southeast and South regions are normally regarded to have higher levels of development than those in the North or Northeast, thus it is more likely to find good structures in cities within such regions.

Almost all Brazilian cities have good public transportation (in terms of range, not confort), but it is basically by bus. Cities in the South region are more developed and regarded to be safer, which makes it a good option for one to study.

Brazilian Institutions of Higher Education

There are institutions with good structures in terms of accommodation, library, common areas and other facilities, such as the Universidade do Vale do Rio Sinos (UNISINOS, Wikipedia information about UNISINOS), located in the small city of São Leopoldo, in Rio Grande do Sul state. I have never been there, but I have a friend who took an interchange undergraduate programme at UNISINOS some years ago and he was really happy with all he could get from it. Cities like Curitiba (Parana state), Florianópolis (Santa Catarina state) and Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), which are the capitals of the Southern states of Brazil, are larger and their social development together with their low rates of criminality makes them a good choice for living and studying.

Photo: a building at UNISINOS' campus.

Some international students have preferred to go to larger cities in the Southeast region, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. These cities are the economic heart of South America.

In São Paulo city you will find anything you would find in a big metropolis, including first-world structures and high prices. It hosts some of the best Brazilian instititutions, such as USP (Universidade de São Paulo), FGV (Fundacao Getulio Vargas) and IBMEC (Instituto Brasileiro de Mercados de Capitais), just to mention a few. FGV and IBMEC are leading private-held institutions in the fields of Business, Law and Economics, and you can find them also in Rio de Janeiro city (access IBMEC Rio de Janeiro website).

The University of São Paulo - USP is a top research institution in almost all its Faculties and is normally ranked the number one in research within South America (together with the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the University of Chile). It is a public University, which means it is funded by the State, therefore they do not charge for one to study there. The application proceedings for both undergraduate and graduate studies are normally very competitive, reaching rates of 30 candidates for 1 place in its Faculty of Law. In the graduate level, previous outstanding research and good reference letters can make the difference for you to join their high-qualified team of graduate students.

FGV is a leading institution in the teach and research of Law, Business and Economics. Its School of Economics and Finance is generally refered to as the number one in Brazil and is reponsible for publishing some of the most important indexes of Brazilian economy. FGV has some interchange programmes with other prestigious institutions around the world, such as the Harvard Law School, United States. As I am a corporate lawyer, it was the place I chose to take my master degree in Business Law before pursuing further studies in the United Kingdom. I would strongly recommend it.

IBMEC is a prestigious centre for finance and business education. Its masters programmes in Corporate Law are also very well regarded in Brazil. In the international field, it also holds interchange programmes with other similar and prestigious institutions of business leadership, such as the Instituto de Empresa (IE) of Madrid, Spain. Both IBMEC and FGV are equally outstanding think tanks in Law, Business and Economics.

Accommodation and Rates

You should be aware that, apart some private universities such as the UNISINOS, most institutions in Brazil do not offer good accommodations. It is important for you to ask the staff in charge of international programmes about the conditions of their accommodations, if there is one. Most will advise you to rent a private flat, which can increase your budget. Some institutions help their students in finding some other students to share the flat and that can be a good deal.

In Recife, it is possible to rent a 4-bedrooms flat in front of the main beach (Boa Viagem, at the picture on the left) with 1.000 euro, but in cities like Sao Paulo this might be the price one will charge for you to rent a 2-bedrooms flat in a good neighborhood like Itaim Bibi. Because there are favelas (slums) in most big cities of Brazil, it will be necessary for you to rent a flat in a good area, so ask for advice before moving to Brazil. You will probably not face this problem if you choose going to smaller cities in the countryside of Sao Paulo state, Minas Gerais state or other states in the South region.

Funding and Scholarships

There are several options for one to fund his studies in Brazil. In Europe, scholarships for one to study in Brazil are normally offered by his home country and foundations, such as the Fundación Carolina in Spain. In the United States, the Department of State grants scholarships for American citizens under the Fulbright Scholarship scheme. Most home countries also offer finance programmes for their citizens to live abroad, notably in Europe. Unfortunatelly, the Brazilian government does not offer scholarships for foreign citizens at this moment, except under some circumstances (if you are an Argentinian citizen for example, you might be eligible to a CAPES or CNPQ scholarship, which are normally only offered to Brazilan citizens).

7 comentários:

  1. hey!
    I am a norwegian law-student, and this year I spent 1 semester in Salvador da Bahia, doing among other things a beginners course in portuguese.
    I wonder if you know any possibilities for law-studies in Salvador? I know my Uni has exchange cooperations in Brazil, though not anything particular in SA. Though, my program has opportunities of taking the last year of the master degree abroad, in a Uni of your choice, of course as long as it fulfills certain demands.

    I will strongly appreciate your answer, and thank you for a very good blog! I can't wait to go back to the amazing country of Brazil in the near future.

  2. Hello Anonymous,

    Unfortunately I am not aware of specific exchange programmes for Law students in Salvador, but you might find useful to contact the UFBA (Universidade Federal de Salvador)'s Office for International Affairs: .

    I have noted they have some links with Norway. Although this sort of undergraduate exchange programmes are normally related to Sciences and Technology instead of Humanities, that might be a good start.

    Send them a message I am sure they will be happy to help you with this issue. Please let me know their answer, as it may be useful to other oversea students. Cheers


  3. Hola!, muy interesante, yo soy de Perú estudio Derecho y quiero hacer mi maestría en Derecho Empresarial, muy importantes los datos que apuntas, pero dime es necesario además que hable bien el portugués no?

  4. Which are the top programs (top 5) ranking wise and which are the best universities for those courses.

  5. It will be very helpful for us you have done lots of things in just one blog thanks for your ideas keep sharing this blog i hope in future we will see more things .

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