Life in Rio: A student’s perspective on NDI’s newest Brazil program

Author: Colleen Wilcox

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Gabrielle Brookins is a junior studying business analytics in the Mendoza College of Business with a minor in Africana studies. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native is the first student with Notre Dame International to study abroad in Rio de Janeiro. She writes about what life was like in Rio and the experiences she gained along the way.

It’s a difficult task to summarize my study abroad experience into a few final words and pictures!

From the moment I arrived, I knew I was going to be forever changed. I felt overwhelmed stepping off the plane and did not know if I would make it the full six months of my experience.

Despite my doubt, I had a great experience in Rio! It was full of adventure and learning. From Carnaval to the FIFA World Cup, my study abroad experience was full of not just studying on a beautiful campus, but also an abundance of culture and fun. The campus was located within a forest preservation area where various trees, plants and wildlife could be seen while walking around. I tried to take advantage of being so close to the beach. I spent time going on hikes to see the city from a different perspective.

Img 5708Brookins enjoyed walking along the beach and hiking while in Rio

While living in Rio, I stayed with a host family and that definitely made my experience even more unique. I was able to improve my Portuguese and have a warm family environment, which I found went beyond the family setting. Cariocas (people from Rio) are kind and fun loving and made me feel at home, whether they just met me or had known me for a few months.

Of course, there were some tears and anxiety along the way. More prevalent, though, were the laughs and wonderful memories made with people I can now proudly call my friends.

When I initially arrived, I thought that six months was going to be a long time. By the time I left, I felt as if I did not have enough time and will need to return in the future to have more adventures and visit friends.

Overall, my study abroad experience showed me that despite prior travel I have done, there is so much more of the world I have yet to see. I was lucky to have this opportunity during my time at Notre Dame. Studying abroad has helped me learn so much about myself and grow as a person. I feel more confident in myself and open to the unknown and unexpected. I hope to travel back and to many more places in my future.

Explore more study abroad programs with Notre Dame International.