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!

Bordeaux School of Management/KEDGE


The not so good things:

When studying abroad, the hardest aspect may be getting adjusted to the topic of your classes or the form of teaching at a different institution. While attending BEM (now known as KEDGE due to a merger), in the English masters program, the focus is geared towards developing ‘soft’ skills. Which makes sense because the English classes aren’t necessarily intended for native English speakers, but instead French students. Most classes revolve around group work. The downside to being in the English courses was the amount of extra work you had to perform writing, if you worked with non-native English speakers. Many exchange students complained about this because we’d spend countless hours re-writing, trying to translate, and correct the work of some group members. One professor acknowledged that every year there’s a problem of some non-exchange students not attending class and dumping their work on the exchange students. Also, it may seem that you’re getting picked on constantly by professors because you do speak English. During one of sequences, in every class native English speakers and exchange students were always picked to present their ideas, while non-exchange students weren’t. You definitely have to be sure you work hard to get a passing grade because Bordeaux grades everything all at once, and then releases their grades during the summer. I’ve been gone from BEM for over 8 weeks, and just this past week was all my grades posted. Also, keep in mind, Financial Aid can’t process rewards until they get those grades back.

Now that you know the bad stuff, here are the good things:

BEM is a school that relies very heavily on socializing. The school thrives on its organizations; my suggestion is to at least join the wine club. During the warmer months they go to chateaus and do wine tastings weekly. I joined the cooking club, which was fun but the language barrier again was a problem. You can’t expect people to translate everything for you, but they certainly did their best.  I do feel my soft skills have developed a lot from attending BEM because I learned to express myself genuinely in different settings to people from different cultures and languages.  Also BEM has a very diverse range of English taught classes. The student body itself is very diverse, and they’re very professional and driven people.  BEM should definitely be applauded for the amount of internships provided to the students; constantly your e-mails will be filled with possible offers from companies like Samsung all the way to Chanel. If an exchange student is looking to stay in Europe and get an internship, I definitely think BEM is the perfect place to pursue that possibility.

I’ve heard really great things about BEM’s new merger and new identity as KEDGE. I think the good aspects of the school will only get better. They’re going to have an amazing new facility, and I think also a larger student body. If studying abroad there, you should be really excited because BEM/KEDGE is a really well known school that is known for taking care of their student body as well as they can. I’ve met really amazing people from that institution which I’m still in contact with today, who I hope will be lifelong friends.


Italian Food Guide

Italians structure their meals very different from how we do in the United States, here is a guide to what you can expect for breakfast, lunch, aperitivo, and your four course dinner!
Breakfast: In Italy you can typically expect a small breakfast item along with one of their very strong and delicious coffees. Usually Italians prefer to gather at a Bar(Café) in the morning and socialize before going in to work for this meal. Croissants are what I ate most for breakfast and what I found to be most common in the different bars around Torino. The best ones to look out for in my opinion are the Nutella filled ones! They have those available almost everywhere since Nutella actually operates out of Torino. Besides croissants you they also eat a variety of pastries and donuts for breakfast as well. My favorite part about breakfast was the authentic Italian coffee. The coffee there is much stronger than it is here and typically comes in the size of a shot glass. Typical types of coffee I saw were Espresso, Marrochino, and Cappuccino. Overall expect your breakfast to be relatively small and light with a delicious coffee or two along with it.
Lunch: Lunch in Italy is a very relaxing time. In Torino, a lot of shops closed down daily for lunch typically between the hours of 12-3pm. For lunch Italians usually sit outside and eat at a local bar again. Here they will usually sit down and order a glass of wine and have a type of sandwich along with it. The sandwiches they offer are generally made of raw or cured ham and sometimes even have no meat, just tomatoes and fresh cheese. “Toast” is what I ended up eating most of the time I was there. It is two large pieces of bread with cheese on both sides surrounding fresh cured ham. They also have a wide range of different Panini available. One thing I thought was interesting was instead of making all of the sandwiches as you order them, all of them are premade, wrapped in clear plastic, and displayed. This made it easy for me because I would just point to what looked good then they would unwrap it and heat it up for you. For lunch you can usually expect a bigger meal then breakfast but it is still considerably portioned smaller than what we are used to for our American lunches.
Aperitivo: Aperitivo is a very interesting aspect of Italian life. It is essentially what Italians do when they get off work and they are hungry but it is not yet dinner time. Their explanation of the meal to me was that it was a time for pre-dinner snacks, socializing and a drink or two. Typical selections for Aperitivio are small cut up sandwitches, small slices of pizza, pasta and different bruschetta. Normally you can buy one drink during Aperitivio and then get a plate full of all of the different finger food they have made for you. It’s basically a buffet snack time where for every drink you buy that gets you an additional plate of food. My favorite options for food during this time were the small squares of pizza and the amazing bruschetta topped with fresh milk mozzarella and fresh tomatoes grown on the Italian countryside. Aperitivo is a very good time to snack and I would recommend making it part of your day while you are in Italy. They eat dinner much later then we do so it holds you over for that long period after lunch while giving you a great excuse to wind down with a beer or glass of wine.
Dinner: The normal Italian dinner is broken into four different phases and usually happens between 8:00 -11:00pm. First you normally order a bottle of wine, bottle of water and a few “Antipasti” plates for your table. You are also presented with different types of fresh bread and breadsticks during this period. It is very important to note that Italians take offense to you not eating all of the food you order, so be careful how much you order. After you clear the food from your appetizer round you get your “Prima” dish. This is essentially your first course and is normally a meat/fish based pasta or pizza. The noodles you get in your pasta come in all shapes and sizes and I noticed they are usually a lot thicker than the ones we eat in America. For your first course they have a very wide range of the different pizzas and pastas you can get. The strangest pizza I had for this was a “Bismarck,” it was a normal looking pizza with a cracked semi cooked egg sitting in the middle of it. After your Prima you get your main course which is called “Secondo,” this was my favorite because it is normally entirely meat based. This is where you would get different types of fish, veal, steak and meat platters. You can also get plates for two here where they give you incredibly large portions of meat that come out rare and you get to cook it to what you would like on the hot iron it is brought out on. After your Secondo course comes the desert and coffee portion of your meal. Typical deserts would be Tiramisu, Gelato or chocolate flavored coffees. They also have dessert wines available. My favorite desert was a coffee brought in a class covered fully in nutella. The entire dinner process usually lasts between an hour and 90 minutes. If you are eating with a large party expect it to probably last around two hours and possible longer.
When eating in Italy you can expect to have three small to midsized meals throughout the day and end with a very large and delicious dinner.


Brett Moreno

Tips for Prague

So today I will be posting some tips for anyone that will be coming to Prague to study at the University of Economics and posting a few pictures from my time here.


When you arrive to the airport, get a map of the public transportation system and keep it with you.           Do not take a taxi from the airport, it is way too expensive. Instead take the 179 bus to the stop Motol and get on the 9 tram going towards Spojovaci.  This ride will take about 30-40 minutes and you will get off at the Strazni stop, the dorm is 1 1/2 block walk to your left when you exit the tram.  This will save you $50.

The people that work at the front desk of the dorm do not speak English at all, so bring an English to Czech phrase book so that you have some hope of communication with them.

If they put you in a room on the 1st floor, asked to be moved immediately.  They do not have AC in the dorms so during the summer time you must leave your windows open, and they do not have screens or bars or any protection from the outside world.  So your best bet is to ask for a higher level floor so that you do not get robbed.

Bring a debit card with a PIN number with you, NOT a credit card, the best way to pay for things is with local currency (Czech Crowns) and the best way to get this currency is from the ATMs around town.  They are called Bankomats here and they are everywhere.

Beer is cheap here, very cheap. Enjoy it!

Do not expect an orientation of any type when you arrive, they sign you up for your class, hand you some paperwork and send you on your way.  You must familiarize yourself with the campus and the local area, the best way to do this is by tram.

I am sure there are more things but for now these are the most important things that come to mind.  Make sure to go out and see all the sights, the map of the public transportation has all the best places listed with exact directions how to get to each place, use it.  Do not study too hard, it really is not necessary, go out and enjoy the cheap beer, that’s the key to a good time in Prague.


My name is Taylor Fiske and I’m wrapping up my last week as a student at Audencia in Nantes France. It is an adorable little city that reminds me a lot of Louisville in a few ways. It has a large student population, and many artsy things to do. I am very sad to be leaving soon as I have not had a chance to ride the big carousel on the ilse de nantes! Audencia is a great school, and this program has allowed me to make friends with people from mexica, Portugal, finland, and india! Our next week will be in Brussels and as sad as I am to leave nantes Im excited to visit a new city !

Study Abroad in Prague

Hello everyone, my name is David Hardesty and I am currently in the middle of a short 4 week study abroad session here in Prague, Czech Republic.  Much like the other posts I have read about trips abroad, mine began quite terribly.  The first night I was here someone climbed through our dorm window and stole my laptop and my roommates phone.  After that start I was sure this trip was a mistake, however things eventually turned around.  After two days in Prague I took a one week trip to Amsterdam and after that things started to get much better.  While in Amsterdam I learned how to navigate the preferred method of European transportation, the tram system.  Being from Louisville I have never ridden any form of public transportation, I had always jumped in my car and driven myself wherever I wanted to go.  Now I’m a pro at navigating public transportation even when I cannot read the language.

I have seen some awesome things while in Europe, met some great people and have had a very enjoyable experience while I have been here.  However, the culture shock we were warned about was very real.  I can remember talking with my fian?ee about the school warning us about it and laughing at the notion.  But I can attest it is quite shocking.  Being immersed in a place where you do not hear English spoken, see any English signs or writing, and must adapt to a completely different social and cultural atmosphere can be quite a challenge, especially when you are all alone and do not have anybody to experience it with.  Once everything set in and the homesickness subsided a bit (never fully going away though) things got much better.

I would definitely recommend a study abroad trip to anyone that wanted to get out of their usual comfort zone and try something new and adventurous.  I have learned a great deal about myself while I have been abroad and have experienced personal growth that I did not think possible at my age (we’ll just say I’m older than your typical college student).  I have experienced things I never imagined I would, have seen things I have only seen on television or the internet, and have gained some extremely valuable global perspective and personal growth.

I will be posting again about my experience in my classes and will include some photographs and videos I have accumulated while here in Europe.  Thanks for reading,

David Hardesty



I am home from studying in Bordeaux for a little over 5 months. I traveled to over 6 different countries.
I won’t deny, my first 2 ½ months in Bordeaux were EXTREMELY rough. Everything that could have went wrong, went wrong. However, it became a pretty good experience.
Bordeaux the City:

What I’m going to miss most of all about Bordeaux are the international students I met. They have many great small restaurants. Bordeaux is a very beautiful city, with everything in walking distance. It was only a 15 minutes walk to get from my flat (Victoire tram stop) to the main shopping area (Grand Theatre tram stop). Bordeaux School of Management is definitely a place where you can brush up your ‘soft’ skills, and the school does whatever it can to give their students access to the best education and internships.

However, if traveling there, be sure to brush up on your French. Finding people who speak English in Bordeaux is really a hit or miss. Once, while a large protest was going on, I couldn’t find anyone in the crowd who spoke enough English to tell me what was happening. Also, the French are VERY particular with how things are pronounced; even fluent speaking Canadian-French students had trouble communicating with the natives of France.

Tips if Studying in Bordeaux
1. Get a flat ahead of time. Do WHATEVER you can to get your flat in the city center. All the good stuff of Bordeaux is near the city center. Their trams and buses stop running as frequently after 10pm (they stop all together at 12am), and their taxis are VERY expensive. I knew lots of international students who felt living so far away from the city hindered their experience.

2. Go out to eat! They have amazing 3 course meals for just fewer than 15 euros which is quite the steal. I suggest visiting Rue Saint Remi near Place De La Bourse, it’s a street filled with affordable restaurants. The best restaurants in my opinion are Chez Pascal’s, Le Chine, and Karls.

3. Go on day trips! There are so many amazing near by places to Bordeaux because it is so close to Spain and the ocean. Some suggestions: Arcachon, Dune de Pyla, San Sebastian, and Saint Emillion.

4. Plan ahead! Though traveling in Europe is much cheaper than the US because it’s smaller, still book tickets in advance. Bordeaux’s airport is much smaller than most airports, so you don’t get the best deals compared to a place like Paris.

5. Rent a car! Yes, this is possible. It’s really affordable if you have 4+ people, also if one of them can drive a stick.

6. Take pictures! I brought a camera and took lots of pictures, but looking back, I wish I would have taken more.

– Jerica L

Making Memories in Trinidad and Tobago! ISLP 2013

During the trip the activities that are salient in my  mind are the events that focused around interacting with the locals. I  absolutely loved immersing myself into another culture. In a culture that is so  welcoming, it was not hard to get acclimated to the charming people, the warm  weather or the general relaxed vibe. One of my favorite social activities was  the snorkeling adventure we took on Frank’s Glass-Bottom Boat. This was one of  the major highlights for me because as a group we really bonded over the  adventure we took together. We each did something that we had never done before.  For me it was swimming out in the ocean to see the beautiful coral and fish. For  Raqueal it was jumping off the top off the boat while all of her colleagues  cheered her on. For Dondra it was just getting off the boat and swimming in the  ocean. Because we were all doing something that wasn’t familiar to us we had to  put a little (or a lot) of our trust in the group surrounding us. Thus, causing  us to go beyond that trust and create a bond that I think is irreplaceable.

Another event that sticks out in my mind is the day that we did community  service in the community of Sea Lots, at It’s Up to MEnvironmental. This day  will always hold a special place in my heart. We got to interact with everyone  from small, school-aged children up to an elderly community member, and everyone  in between. On this day we also met with some of the students that we would be  working/presenting with at the Symposium. Meeting some of the college students  from the University of Trinidad and Tobago was a real eye opener for me because  I had the misconception that they would be so different from us, when in all  actuality we were all pretty much the same. The only thing that was remotely  different was that most of these students were relatively older than traditional  college students; Most of them being in their upper 20s.
The last event that  really left an impression on me was going into the Success Laventile Secondary  School. In preparation for this visit we had been told that the students at this  school would be a rather challenging group to deal with. I don’t think that that  assumption could have been more wrong. The students that we interacted with were  no worse than your typical teenage students and actually seemed to be better  behaved than students their age. The best part about visiting these  students had to be the steel pan performance that they gave us. Their  performance was one of the best musical experiences I have ever  had.
All in all, my favorite part of going to Trinidad and  Tobago was bonding with my peers, the faculty and staff and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.  I  made lasting memories with people that I hope to be connected with for a  lifetime.
Naomi Sells
-Business Administration in Marketing Major
University of Louisville Class of ’15