From the Amazon rainforest to famous beaches and sprawling cities, Brazil is a land known for social, cultural and ecological diversity. São Paulo, an important cultural center, is also its commercial and industrial center. As a popular destination for visitors, it supports first-rate museums, concerts, experimental theater and dance.



Languages Spoken:

Portuguese

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION

Undergraduate degree programs last from two to six years, leading to a bacharel (non-teaching) degree, licenciado (teaching) or a professional title (licenciado, medico, contador, etc.). Graduate programs consist of two year programs leading to a mestre (master's) degree and four year programs leading to a doutor (doctorate) degree. There is also the especialização (certificate level), a professional graduate non-degree program usually completed prior to a full master's.

The academic school year normally runs from March through November. The year is divided into two semesters with some institutions also offering courses during a summer term (January and February). Some institutions, especially those that have large enrollments and are located in urban areas offer three "shifts" of classes each day: in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Classes
The Brazilian student traditionally spends approximately 20 or more hours in class per week. In the classroom, lectures are the most common teaching method used, and in some institutions, the only approach followed. Brazilian students rely heavily on the professor as a resource as, at times, he is the only source available.

The traditional method of learning has been for the student to take down everything the professor says and then to repeat this on the examination. This approach is, however, undergoing rapid modification. The normal full-time course load per semester is six or seven courses; the minimum course load permitted is two. Each course carries a fixed number of credits and is completed in one semester.

There is little uniformity regarding the number of credits granted per course. The weight or credit attached to each class varies with the institution, as does the total number of credits required per semester. In most cases, courses are assessed for a higher number of credits than might be in other countries. Therefore, a full-time student will take between 25 and 35 credits per semester.

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA/RESIDENCE PERMIT

A student visa (VITEM-IV) is required for study in Brazil. The process of gathering the appropriate documents and applying for the visa can take six to eight weeks, so begin early. Under NO circumstances should you apply for a tourist visa. Tourist visas are valid for only 90 days and cannot be extended. Once you decide to study in Brazil, you need to apply for the Student Visa in your home country. There is no way to change your visa status after you have arrived in Brazil.

You must obtain the visa from the Brazilian consulate in your area of jurisdiction and in some cases, a personal visit to the consulate may be required. Please note that not all Brazilian consulates accept visa applications submitted through third party visa services. You should apply for a visa from the consulate whose area of jurisdiction includes your permanent residence. If this is not possible or is very inconvenient, you may request that the consulate within the area of jurisdiction of your home institution accept and process your visa application.

In order to obtain your visa, you must provide the documents as listed on the website for the Brazilian consulate in your area of jurisdiction. The Brazilian consul processing the visa reserves the right to make other requirements when deemed necessary. Important: call the consulate in your particular area of jurisdiction to confirm the procedure.

All students who are going to study in Brazil must apply for the Temporary Visa: VITEM-IV (Student Visa). Students can not apply for VITEM-I because it is the Tourist Visa. All visa application forms for Brazil must now be filled out online. You must then print out and bring the completed form with you (along with the other required documents) to the visa appointment. Or, if the Consulate for your jurisdiction accepts Visa applications via mail, you can send the documents via mail.

For a stay of longer than 90 days, you will also need to include a recent non-criminal record certificate issued by the Police Department of your place of residence (this does not apply for students less than 18 years old).

While the below is a general list of what is required to obtain the visa, you must check with the consulate in your jurisdiction to verify the process and documents required. Keep in mind that you may be required to travel to the consulate to receive your visa in person.

Basic documents typically required for student Visa (VITEM-IV) may include:

  • Passport: original, valid for at least another six months on submission date, with at least two blank visa pages.
  • Visa Application Form: printed receipt page of the visa application form filled out and successfully submitted online duly signed by the passport holder and with the photo attached on the appropriate boxes.
  • Photograph: one professional two inch by two inch passport photo of the applicant in color. Snapshots, photocopies and computer pictures are not accepted. Please glue the photo onto the visa application receipt page.
  • Birth certificate: copy of your birth certificate.
  • Itinerary: copy of your round-trip ticket, booked reservation under your name, with complete itinerary, flight number, arrival and departure dates and reservation code provided by the airline company.
  • Proof of Jurisdiction: copy of driver’s license, utility bills, lease, bank statements and in some cases school documents are all acceptable documents as proof of jurisdiction. VITEM IV visas require that the applicant proves he or she has been living within the jurisdiction within the last 12 months.
  • Proof of financial capability
  • Police clearance
  • Proof of enrollment: original acceptance letter from the Brazilian educational institution indicating type and duration of studies.

Entry into Brazil must take place within 90 days from the date when the visa was issued. This visa is good for multiple entries, for the time of the visa's duration. If necessary, an extension may be obtained with the Federal Police in Brazil, if requested at least 30 days prior to its expiration. Student Visa (i.e. Vitem-IV) holders are not allowed to engage in any paid activity in Brazil.

Attention U.S. STUDENTS: A non-refundable processing fee of USD $160 (subject to change) per visa will be charged to U.S. citizens in reciprocity for the identical fee paid by Brazilian citizens who apply for a visa to the United States of America. Handling fees will be an additional cost.

Note: Participants with dual nationality who hold Brazilian passports: You must enter Brazil with your Brazilian passport. Please make sure your passport is valid.

REGISTRATION WITH BRAZILIAN POLICE

Once you arrive in Brazil, you need to complete the registration process in your first month inside the country. You must register at the Federal Police to receive an identity card. If you fail to register, you will be subject to paying high fines. Please discuss this process, briefly outlined below, with your ISEP coordinator at your host institution for the most up-to-date information. The International Programs Office will be able to advise you in how to complete this registration process, but you might have to go to Federal Police by yourself.

  1. As soon as you arrive in Brazil, get a photocopy of your passport at a cartorio’s office and have it authenticated. The pages should include the primary pages of your passport as well as the page with your visa and the page with the stamp from Brazilian immigration.
  2. You will also need two three cm by four cm small photos; these can be made at any small photography shop, but you will need to have them taken in Brazil, since they must be of a specific size and quality. These photos need to have a white background. You can not smile in the picture.
  3. You will have to go to the Federal Police website in order to print out the forms for payment of your registration fees. The fees will be approximately R $200 (subject to change).

It is imperative that you get an authenticated copy of your passport as well, and never walk around without these copies. Leave your passport at home in a safe place.

For more information about the Student visa requirements, review the Student Visa section on the Embassy's website. However, because student visa requirements are constantly changing, it is very important that you contact the Brazilian embassy or consulate in the jurisdiction of your home state or country to get the latest information.

Culture

COMMUNICATIVE STYLE

Verbal communication in Brazil can often be viewed as being theatrical and overemotional. In a country like Brazil, if you feel something strongly, you show it. Overt signs of emotion definitely do not imply lack of conviction and should be taken as the deeply felt belief of the speaker. Compared to their neighbors, Brazilians communicate with a slightly blunter cultural style. However, this is often determined by the level of a relationship, i.e. the warmer it is, the blunter it gets. They also place a lot of emphasis on non-verbal gestures to enhance their point.

The "OK" sign used in North America (thumb and index finger joined in an "o") closely resembles an offensive Brazilian hand gesture. In Brazil the "thumbs-up" sign is used to indicate approval.

SPACE AND DISTANCE

Brazilians are very tactile, even across the sexes, and talk at very close proximity. It is acceptable to touch someone when speaking to them, no matter the gender or the relationship. A touch on the arm or a pat on the back is common in normal conversation.

Eye contact (but not staring) is important, as a demonstration of sincerity and interest in the conversation and in the person being spoken to.

TIME

Punctuality can sometimes be an issue in Brazil, but this should not be interpreted a rude or lazy. Other cultures may be accustomed to rigid schedules and appointments. In Brazil, however, there is a very different approach to the concept of time. Brazilians tend to see time as a sequence of events (as opposed to hours and minutes). For example, if they are late because a previous engagement took longer than expected, they will view the delay with your meeting as a natural consequence.

GREETINGS

Greetings between men usually involve a standard handshake. Women will generally kiss each other, starting with the left cheek. Typically, Brazilian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a hug and a kiss on each cheek. If a woman wishes to shake hands with a man, she should extend her hand first.

FOOD

In general, breakfast at home is very light and usually consists of coffee, milk, bread and jam (and sometimes cheese and ham), and fresh fruit. Lunch is the largest meal of the day and usually takes place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Dinner is usually eaten no earlier than 7 p.m. (in big cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, dinner isn't eaten until 10 p.m.). In Brazil, meals are not just a time for eating but also for spending quality time with family, friends and colleagues.

Rice, black beans and manioc (a root vegetable like a potato) are the main foods for many Brazilians. The national dish is feijoada, a thick stew of black beans and pieces of pork and other meats. It is usually served with orange salad, white rice, farofa (ground manioc) and couve (kale), a dark green leafy vegetable that is diced and cooked until slightly crispy.

Daily Life

COMMUNICATIVE STYLE

Verbal communication in Brazil can often be viewed as being theatrical and overemotional. In a country like Brazil, if you feel something strongly, you show it. Overt signs of emotion definitely do not imply lack of conviction and should be taken as the deeply felt belief of the speaker. Compared to their neighbors, Brazilians communicate with a slightly blunter cultural style. However, this is often determined by the level of a relationship, i.e. the warmer it is, the blunter it gets. They also place a lot of emphasis on non-verbal gestures to enhance their point.

The "OK" sign used in North America (thumb and index finger joined in an "o") closely resembles an offensive Brazilian hand gesture. In Brazil the "thumbs-up" sign is used to indicate approval.

SPACE AND DISTANCE

Brazilians are very tactile, even across the sexes, and talk at very close proximity. It is acceptable to touch someone when speaking to them, no matter the gender or the relationship. A touch on the arm or a pat on the back is common in normal conversation.

Eye contact (but not staring) is important, as a demonstration of sincerity and interest in the conversation and in the person being spoken to.

TIME

Punctuality can sometimes be an issue in Brazil, but this should not be interpreted a rude or lazy. Other cultures may be accustomed to rigid schedules and appointments. In Brazil, however, there is a very different approach to the concept of time. Brazilians tend to see time as a sequence of events (as opposed to hours and minutes). For example, if they are late because a previous engagement took longer than expected, they will view the delay with your meeting as a natural consequence.

GREETINGS

Greetings between men usually involve a standard handshake. Women will generally kiss each other, starting with the left cheek. Typically, Brazilian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a hug and a kiss on each cheek. If a woman wishes to shake hands with a man, she should extend her hand first.

FOOD

In general, breakfast at home is very light and usually consists of coffee, milk, bread and jam (and sometimes cheese and ham), and fresh fruit. Lunch is the largest meal of the day and usually takes place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Dinner is usually eaten no earlier than 7 p.m. (in big cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, dinner isn't eaten until 10 p.m.). In Brazil, meals are not just a time for eating but also for spending quality time with family, friends and colleagues.

Rice, black beans and manioc (a root vegetable like a potato) are the main foods for many Brazilians. The national dish is feijoada, a thick stew of black beans and pieces of pork and other meats. It is usually served with orange salad, white rice, farofa (ground manioc) and couve (kale), a dark green leafy vegetable that is diced and cooked until slightly crispy.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

MONEY MATTERS

CURRENCY

The Real is divided into 100 centavos. Coins are R$0.05 (copper and silver), R$0.10 (bronze and silver), R$0.25 (bronze and silver), R$0.50 (silver) and R$1 (silver with a golden border). Bills come in the following denominations: R$1 (green, being phased out), R$2 (blue), R$5 (purple), R$10 (red and plastic red/blue), R$20 (yellow) R$ 50 (orange) and $100 (blue).

Foreign currency such as U.S. Dollars or Euros can be exchanged in major airports and luxury hotels, exchange bureaux and major branches of Banco do Brasil. The latter allegedly has the best rates, but you need your passport and your immigration documents.

To compare your currency to the Brazilian Real, see www.xe.com.

Look for an ATM with your credit or debit card logo on it. Large branches of Banco do Brasil usually have one, and most all Bradesco, Citibank, BankBoston and HSBC machines will work. Banco 24 Horas (not a bank) operates a network of ATMs which accept foreign cards; however, additional fees are levied for the use of these machines. To avoid too many fees, withdraw as much cash as possible at a time, but be cautious with your money. Note that most ATMs will only give you R$ 100 after 10 p.m.

In smaller towns, it is possible that there is not a single ATM that accepts foreign cards. You should therefore always carry sufficient cash.

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