About kanebl03

I am from a small town in southwestern KY called Russellville. The University of Louisville, a university much larger than my hometown, has provided me with opportunities that I never imaged. I am a Finance major and I minor in International Business, Spanish and Portuguese. The Study Abroad office in the College of Business is wonderful. With them, I have studied abroad numerous of times and I am confident in saying that they are able to provide resources that would help any college of business students make an abroad experiences possible.

Introduction to Brazil

Before leaving for Brazil to study for 9 months, my knowledge of it’s culture and the country at large was limited to stereotypes. You know, the Amazon river, football (soccer), samba, beaches, the Christ and carnival to name a few.  I find that many Americans know little about this massive country.  So, I just want to point out a few things that will hopefully spark a deeper interest in Brazil.

If I had to describe the Brazil in one word it would be “diverse”. It is huge! Located in South America, Brazil is the largest country on the continent and would be bigger than the United States without Alaska. Brazil is the only country in the world that lies on the equator while having contiguous territory outside the tropics. Every land form is simply beautiful! You can find hills, mountains, plains, highlands, scrublands and green all around. The waterfalls, beaches and rivers would blow your mind! Brazil’s Biodiversity is one of the richest in the world.

The demographics of Brazil is immense. Two of my favorites are race and religion. The racial dynamic is a melting pot. About 45% of the population is classified as multiracial and let me tell ya, its a beautiful mix. Its a mix that largely consist of the indigenous people, the Portuguese and the African slaves. Quite different from the U.S., Brazilians are known for being able to racially classify themselves or specify their exact skin color. For example, on an application you can select white, mulato (mix), prado (another kind of mix), morano (brown), preto (black). Socially, racial classification is even better; my favorite is “cafe com leite” (coffee with milk color).  Even more interesting, there are large communities of immigrants. The following countries have residents in Brazil at a population greater than any other country in the world, other than their native one. They are German, Japan, Italy, Lebanon and Syrian.  Outside the the racial demographic, religion is very diverse. The country was formed by the Roman Catholic Church but there are many variations or syncretistic practices to Catholicism. Less popular than Christianity, there are big population of Spiritism and Afro-Brazilian religions. While I was studying, I stayed with different Brazilian families. Each homestay family I stayed with practiced a different religion.

Brazilian Portuguese is special. Brazil is the only Portuguese speaking country in the Americas. The differences between Brazilian Portuguese to Portugal’s is similar to American and British English.  Its development has influence of Amerindian (indigenous languages) and African languages. To me, with foreign ear, Brazilian Portuguese appears to be sung with an melodious rhythm. In São Paulo, there is an entire Museum dedicated to the language of Portuguese.

Now that I have studied in Brazil, I have an entirely different opinion of the its culture. To describe the Brazilian people in one word, although impossible to do so, it would be “hospitable”. The Brazilian culture is very large and diverse but the virtue of hospitality is what I found across the board. For the most part, Brazilians love their country and feel like they belong in the Brazilian nationality.  It was the receptive personality of the people in which I experienced and loved the most.  On my first days in the country, I experienced the following examples:

In a restaurant, it is not uncommon for the stranger sitting next to you help you order your food. Standing on the bus, the sitting person would offer to hold your bags. If your lost, seemingly anyone would help you get to your destination. At someone’s home, you must eat until your stomach explodes.

How could you not love such a place? I encourage all who read this blog to learn more about this amazing country!

What really matters: From Costa Rica

Before I left for Costa Rica a friend of mine gave me a traveler’s journal to record my experiences. I’m not big on writing a lot but I promised my friend that I would use her gift. So I did. However, toward the end of the program I noticed something interesting about my journal. At the top of each page of the journal it says: “Place___ Date:___”.  Instead of recording the places I had visited, I had recorded the names of people I had met. I wrote very little about the golden made buildings, tropical beaches and fancy homes. On the contrary, I had written about the personalities of the sister of my homestay mother who was willing to let me stay in her home until her sister prepared a room for me, the stranger who walked me to my home when I had gotten lost (and refused to allow me to pay her), the hospitality of my friends from dance class and the trips with my mother on her job. This is very different from my last abroad experience where I took many pictures of buildings and landmarks. I believe I had discovered what really matters and that is creating relationships with others.

It was relationships with the Costarricans that made all the difference. I had more fun asking directions from strangers, bargaining at the markets, joining extracurricular activities and practicing with the school’s basketball team then I had attending plan trips with the American students.  Also, I have already forgotten the details of San José’s  national theater and other expensive excursions but I will never forget the unique experiences with the local people.

My Spanish skills are yet to be perfect but they have increased immensely. I can only credit that to the many good experiences with very nice Costa Rican’s. Now I love Spanish so that I can listen create relationships and I now believe that the real significance about traveling abroad (or anywhere) is the people.

Kamero Neblett

Words From Sevilla!!

Hola, Que Pasa Contigo Tios!!

I am Kamero Amani Neblett, a rising Junior, a Finance major and I am currently studying in Sevilla Spain which is absolutely one of the most beautiful experience I have ever had!!

I am studying abroad with the International Studies Abroad (ISA) program for two summer sessions. So I’ve been here since the end of May and I will return to Kentucky at the end of July! The first summer session group has left and the second group has recently arrived so I want to tell you about my amazing experience with ISA in Sevilla.

Representing The VILLE! GO CARDS!

Great Decisions before Leaving

Before leaving for Spain, I did a little studying on the culture and history. Also, I tried not to develop many expectations but to only have an open mind to the differences of the Spanish culture. It has turn out to be a great decision. The Spanish people love to teach willing students or travelers about their way of life. I also chose home stay for the very reason of immersing myself into the culture, and it was an “Perfecto” decision. And lastly before I left I signed up for mostly Spanish courses. These teachers have been the best Spanish professors I have ever had and my knowledge of Spanish has increased dramatically.

Learning Spanish

It is important to have purpose or an idea of what you want to get out of your study abroad experience. Many of the American students here want to accomplish the ultimate goals of Fun and more Traveling. Those are great goals and I have accomplished both, but if you want to learn Spanish it can create a trade off. I thought it would be easy to learn Spanish in Spain, however, I definitely have to make daily and special effort to avoid speaking in English. Weird right? But this study abroad program is mostly American students and the staff are able to speak English therefore the students rather speak it to converse efficiently. So, unless you make a special effort to immerse yourself with the local people you may find it difficult to improve your Spanish, especially if your staying only a short time.

This is how to do it:

  • First sign up for home stay! Out of the 150 students (over two sessions) in ISA, I’ve only heard of one family  who knew English. It may be rough at first, but you quickly learn how to survive.
  • Sign up for Spanish Courses! I have had three Courses in Spanish and two professors. (I have also taken an International Finacnce course). I’ve taken beginning Spanish and I am now in intermediate Spanish. My schedule is a little crazy this month with one class for Four & Half hours with breaks, but its worth it. Both professors have been amazing! The classes are small and they know how to teach Spanish not “Spanglish”. It is also a lot of fun because you also learn a ton about the culture through the language. Also, they often gives us homework that requires us to talk with locals and go to certain places in the city to use what we learned. If your plan to come for a semester and not a summer your schedule would be more civilized.
  • Solo en Español! Tell all the directors and the people you see often to only speak with you in Spanish. The directors speak English to run to program more efficiently, but after the important things are covered use them to practice your Spanish. Also, have them let you know about more things around the city you can get into.
  • ¡Intercambios! These are the best! Basically, ISA pairs you up with a willing student to help you with Spanish and you help them with English. My intercambio already knows English so we mostly talk in Spanish. The cool thing about it is that there isn’t anything formal about it. You basically become friends who hang out and talk. My intercambio has introduced me to her friends, taken me to parties and beaches, and taught me more about Sevilla. A friend of for a lifetime.
  • ¡Estudia! The classes aren’t hard but to really understand the language you need to study a little every day. At least that’s how it is for me. However, it can be very difficult to study when there are so many things to do. Espically at night, I believe Spaniards don’t sleep.
  • Get involved! Make sure you attend as many events the program sets up for and ask them about other jobs or volunteer work you can do in the city. This is really good because you have responsibilities that you will have to conduct in Spanish.

Home Stay!

Home Stay is the bomb! Many students got apartments instead of home stay for various reasons I do not understand. I am living Fabulously! My family lives in an apartment with 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. My family consist of an Señora, Señor y dos los perros. They have no children unlike other families and they housing my roommate from Nebraska and I. My Señora cooks the best Spanish dishes three times a day (which is my favorite part). She makes us bocadillos and other snacks every excursion we go on. She washes, folds and irons our clothes! Once a week she changes our sheets and towels. She gives us ultimate privacy! Our Señor mostly watches T.V. and always willing to talk if we have questions. Honestly I feel spoiled living like this.

It sounds all Fun but come Prepared!

A few students have had unfortunate things happen to them and even I received diarrhea by eating all the food from an excursion to Morocco. Spain is pretty safe for the most part, but there is theft. In Madrid, one student got his bag stolen by a cab driver who drove off with it. Other things you should think about is the exchange rate and phone calling, because many student have lost a lot money by not dealing with those things wisely. Females should stay very cautions toward the very aggressive Spaniard guys, especially when drinking at bars or at clubs. You can have a lot of fun but don’t become careless or let your guard down.


Kamero Amani Neblett