It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, I was in a different country, time zone, and hemisphere. Up until college, I had only known California and small, poor parts of Mexico (where my family is originally from) but now I am enjoying the culture, language, and beaches of Brazil!
I am currently participating in a Harvard Summer Study Abroad Program that gives me the opportunity of studying- and experiencing- three very unique cities of Brazil: Sao Paulo, Paraty, and Rio de Janeiro. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind and I’m excited to say that not only has my Portuguese improved, my familiarity with Latin America has also deepened. Seeing the similarities and differences between the Brazilian culture and my Mexican-American culture allows me to appreciate just how beautiful- and diverse- Latin America really is.
One of the most enjoyable ways in which I have been able to see these cultural distinctions is through the music. For example, I knew about and was excited for Samba before traveling to Brazil but what I fell in love with was the genre of music known as “Sertanejo.” Growing up with a family who loves to play, dance and sing “Banda” music (also known as “Rancheras” and closely linked with Mariachi music), my ears were automatically drawn to Sertanejo. I like to think of “Sertanejo” and “Banda” as cultural counterparts. They are very similar in style but the individual nuances among them make each one as enjoyable as the other. They are actually considerably different in style as well as dance even though the sound is very similar which makes learning that much more exciting! I love to dance and so I am determined to master the Dance of Sertanejo called “Forro” before I leave Brazil. What better way to understand a culture if not through the arts?
Being in Brazil has already been an eye-opening experience and is something I never thought I’d be able to do. I can already tell that this will be a life and perspective-changing experience. I am grateful to be immersed in the culture and am very excited to be working alongside Harvard teachers everyday in class. This program has it all! Great experiences, great teachers, and a great location. I’ll be very sad when it comes time to leave this beautiful country.
I will also be chronicling my experiences in Brazil through a video blog. Below is the introduction to the journey!
I will also have videos about my experiences in China and Spain, which are coming after Brazil! I am excited to see the world through a new lens. These Harvard programs will definitely provide exciting adventures. I hope you tune in!
To learn more about the MANY Harvard Study Abroad Programs, check out the Office of International Programs website at: