Taisse Torres is a junior majoring in psychology and Portuguese.
Last spring, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Curitiba, Brazil, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I learn a new language but I was immersed in a new culture and did things I never imagined I would have the chance to do, along with making strong bonds with the people I met and spent time with.
Brazilian culture varies around the country, and I was lucky enough to be able to travel to different places and be part of different traditions. I was there to see the beauty of Carnival, the beginning of Festa Junina and even got to celebrate my birthday there. I managed to travel to Paranaguá, Foz do Iguaçu, Florianopolis, Morretes, Rio de Janeiro, Cascavel, Argentina and Paraguay. I went to beautiful beaches, saw the magnificence of Cristo Redentor, stood at the Garganta do Diablo at the Cataratas de Foz do Iguaçu and got an adrenaline rush at Beto Carrero World. This is without including all the adventures in Curitiba itself, which we knew inside and out by the end of our time there.
Even with all those adventures, the most important things I got from being in Brazil were new language skills and new relationships. My Portuguese is far from perfect but the experience gave me a solid foundation to keep building on and reach fluency in the future with hard work. Not only that, but my host family was a great support in my learning when I was in Brazil, as well as now. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and made me feel comfortable during my entire stay, resulting in my strong bonds with not only my host parents and siblings, but also their extended family. Now that I am back in the United States, I maintain constant contact with them and can’t wait until I get the opportunity to visit them again. Aside from my new Brazilian family, I also made some of my strongest friendships while abroad. I befriended Brazilians that took me under their wings and helped me navigate the city and have fun. I also met other non-nationals and we created a bond that came from being in a different country, and I consider these people some of my best friends.
Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and the memories will be with me for the rest of my life. The knowledge I gained at the Universidade Federal do Paraná and CELIN will be etched in my mind, and so will be the kindness of all the professors that had to deal with a clueless student from the United States. The adventures I went on and the people I met expanded my horizons and truly changed my outlook in life. I will never forget the six months I spent in the beautiful country of Brazil!