Brazil is a land of diversity. Popular for its rainforests, beaches, and lively cities, Brazilian society includes people of indigenous, Portuguese, European, and African ancestries. It is home to Carnaval, a world-famous celebration, as well as neighbourhood festivals, street parades, and a music scene unlike anywhere else in the world.
AFSers in Brazil learn Portuguese, attend high school, and live with host families. In a culture where family life is cherished, don’t be surprised if many extended family members want to get to know you during your stay.
Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, though English is widely understood. Amerindian tribes living on reservations speak their own languages.
The ability to speak Portuguese is not a prerequisite for the program, but we strongly suggest that you learn as much as possible prior to departure.
You will have language lessons during your stay in Brazil.
Host Family & Community
You can be placed throughout the beautiful country of Brazil, and most placements are with middle-class families in the population centres.
Host families in Brazil, like all AFS host families worldwide, are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
Brazilians are open and affectionate. Families are tight knit and extended family is often close by. In the typical Brazilian family, the mother usually has a job, supervises the children and manages the household while the husband is involved with work outside the home.
Not all schools offer activities, so kids usually participate in community organisations. Your host family can help you get involved as a volunteer in one of these groups. It’s a great way to make new friends, meet people and learn more about your community. Soccer is the nation’s official sport and is played by both boys and girls.
Teens typically go to each other’s homes on the weekends, as well as cafes and town centres. There are many national fairs throughout the year that everyone attends, including world-renowned Carnaval.
Brazil is a fashion conscious country and is heavily influenced by Europe; however, teens tend to dress more casually.
Parents are more protective of girls than boys, resulting in stricter rules and restrictions. Teenagers are expected to keep their parents informed of their activities, such as when they go out and where they are going. Youth often live with their parents until marriage.
Children are expected to help with the household chores.
Eating in Brazil is an event that is not taken lightly. Both lunch and dinner are large family gatherings. Because mealtime is family time in Brazil, you can expect to share most meals with your host family; missing any meal will require advance notice.
While breakfast is light, lunch and dinner are big meals with hearty portions. Brazilians eat a lot and the food is quite heavy. Barbecued meat is very popular, and traditional foods also include African-influenced fish and chicken stews. The staples of the Brazilian diet are white rice, beans, and farofa or farinha (manioc flour). Meals are usually served with carne (beef) and a green and tomato salad.
A variety of fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year.
In Brazil it is considered inappropriate for individuals to request special foods, to prepare separate food for themselves or to raid the refrigerator.
You could be placed in either a private or public high school. You will most likely be in the second-to-last year of high school with classmates’ ages 15 to 17 years old.
You’ll attend classes in either the morning (from 7am to 12am) or in the afternoon (from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm). There are about ten core subjects that all students must take, and there are some elective classes as well, like art and cooking. You will be responsible for presenting group research and are expected to get involved in class activities.
Not all schools require a uniform, but if they do it will most likely consist of jeans and a school t-shirt.
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the orientations that you will participate in domestically, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad.
These required orientations are intended to help you maximise your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and to gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding.
Local chapters of AFS Brazil may arrange events such as informal gatherings, weekend excursions and picnics. There may also be short-term exchanges in a different part of Brazil.
Each year, there are four optional trips scheduled that you may be able to join for an additional fee. Popular locations are the Amazon, Brasilia, or Iguaçu Falls and trips last 1-2 weeks. Prices for these trips are between $250-1500 depending on destination and length of trip.