Do I need a visa?
How do I acquire one?
A visa is required. It is best to get a tourist visa from your local Brazilian Consulate.
Will there be computer/internet access?
Students at our school have free access to computer and internet in school. For additional access, away from school there are various internet cafes in Sao Paulo around school or your Host Family who charge roughly 1-2 dollars per 1 hour.
What to Bring?
It is possible to buy everyday items at a reasonable price (i.e. shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, feminine products, contact solution, deodorant). These can be purchased at the local pharmacies across from the school) at roughly the same price as in the US. If you have a particular brand you prefer, we suggest bringing enough to last you during you stay.
As for clothing, light, comfortable, casual clothes are best. If you want to travel to the coast you must bring a bathing suit and sandals. Plus, there are many upscale stores and shopping malls, so most everything can be purchased here. We at our school, and Brazilians in general, are very flexible clothes wise. While it is not necessary for men to bring a suit, or for women their fanciest dress, it is up to the student to decide what they want to travel with. You'll be your own best judge of whether you will prefer to go to clubs, fancy restaurants or just casual places.
It is not smart to wear or bring along your best accessories and jewelry when traveling. Modesty is suggested in this area.
What about safety?
It is always smart to go out at night with a friend. It is safe to take a taxi alone, and there is also a bus system.
What is the typical cuisine? What will I be eating, especially with my family?
Rice and beans are a staple, as is fruit and meat. For lunch, there are many "self-service" restaurants with excellent food charged by the kilo (approximately US$5). There are also supermarkets to buy snacks and such. A modest meal is around US$5, and an extravagant meal is under US$15. Sao Paulo has many restaurants dedicated to international cuisine, such as Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and general grills. There is also a lot of pizza here! One particular specialty of Brazil are the Churrascarias, dedicated to meat. Also, there is a McDonalds.
Although it is not necessary to be paranoid about drinking the water, we recommend drinking bottled water or water from a cooler as most people do. For those with sensitive stomachs, it is best to avoid food from street vendors until accustomed to the environment.
What is the nightlife like?
There are a number of bars in the city, with live music, recorded Brazilian music playing and electronic music. Clubs and discotheques exist in several parts of the city, and are busy from Monday through Sunday with varying types of music. Many big name bands and musicians come to Sao Paulo during the year, and you can expect shows almost every week either in music halls, stadiums or in the nightclubs themselves. Whether you want a more relaxed evening or one full of dance and people, you can find it here.
What will the homestay be like?
Students are guaranteed their own room. While Brazilian families are very open, friendly, and accommodating, our homestays do understand that students have homework to complete, letters to write, and books to read. It is up to the student to establish this rapport with their family. Our homestay families range from middle to upper class. The facilities are clean and modern; very similar to what would be found in the states. Hot running water is available in all homestays.
Should I bring gifts to my family and teachers?
Small gifts for the family are a wonderful gesture, and teachers are always proud to wear the t-shirts and hats of the universities and companies their students are affiliated with.
What will I want to buy when I'm there, including gifts to take home, clothes, crafts?
Sao Paulo has outdoor markets of local crafts ranging from dresses and t-shirts to handmade jewelry and hammocks. Many unique gifts can be found to take back to loved ones. There are many places where you can buy everything you want and need.
How much extra money should I bring?
Because housing, breakfast and dinner are included in tuition, money is mostly needed for lunch, necessities, and nightlife- ranging from US$150-300 per month. Students often travel before or after their time at the school, so it is up to the individual to calculate how much money they will need.
How much are CD's and DVD's?
CD's cost between US$ 7 and US$ 10, DVD's US$ 10 and US$ 15. But be aware, Brazil supports DVD country code 4 which is not supported in the US/Canada (Code 1) or Europe and Japan (Code 2). Some local productions mainly TV series on DVD's are code free. Once in a while older films are sold code free as well.
What is the tipping situation (taxi, restaurant)?
If there is tip, it will be included in the bill. It is not necessary to tip in taxis.
Mail, Exchanging money and Phone Calls
Mail from the US takes a week more or less, and up to two weeks when sent to the US. A postcard costs R$1 (60 cents), and letters upwards from this. There are banks and post offices within a few blocks of the school. ATM cards are a typical way to take out money. We are also able to exchange money for you within a day. There are also hotels that exchange currency and traveler's checks for you. To make either local or international phone calls, you will need to buy phone cards here (they are sold in many locations).
Is there a movie theatre?
The cinemas in Sao Paulo has current films from Brazil and from abroad. Tickets range from US$5-7. Films from outside of Brazil will be subtitled, but Brazilian films are in Portuguese.
What is the overall opinion/stereotype of Foreigners?
Any foreigner is welcomed the same in Brazil - with open arms! People in Sao Paulo don't have many prejudices against strangers, and are excited to get to know everyone new.
Will I be picked up at the airport?
All students will be picked up at the airport upon their request.
How do I get to school on the first day?
Your host family will walk with you or drive you to school on the first day.
What happens in a typical day at school?
Classes start at 9 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. There are two 15 minute breaks in between. The content of the classes depends on the level of the student.
Where can I play sports?
There are many places where you can practice all kinds of sports. There are also regularly scheduled games for students and faculty. Sao Paulo has many gyms with modern equipment and various aerobic classes where you are able to purchase monthly memberships.