Elisa @ São Paulo

Host University

FGV EAESP – the Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo
Spring 2019

Organization

You will need to get a student visa before going to Brazil. For Austrian citizens, it is issued at the Brazilian Embassy in Vienna, costs 110€ (as of 2018) and takes approximately 1-2 weeks. The process itself is very uncomplicated. However, a lot of paperwork is needed beforehand. Required documents include a visa application form, a copy of the birth certificate, a criminal record, an acceptance letter from FGV EAESP, a certificate of enrollment at WU, international health insurance, a photo, as well as a plane ticket to Brazil. Valid health insurance is also needed in order to enroll in university, as FGV requires every exchange student to present a health insurance contract valid for the period of studies in São Paulo. The original visa application form and the original birth certificate (equipped with an apostille to confirm its validity) has to be brought to Brazil, as they are needed for the registration at the Brazilian Federal Police in São Paulo.

Before traveling to Brazil, it is recommended to review basic vaccinations like tetanus, diphtheria, typhus, and hepatitis A + B. Moreover, yellow fever vaccination is strongly suggested. The vaccination against rabies is not needed but can be useful when traveling for a longer time to remote areas of Brazil, especially when planning to do many outdoor activities. Lastly, Malaria standby pills are recommended when traveling to the Amazon & the regions of Mato Grosso, Rondonia, Acre, Tocantins, Pará, Maranhão, Ampá, and Roirama. For São Paulo no malaria medication is needed!

Accommodation

I stayed in a private room in a fully equipped house in Vila Madalena for ca. 410€ per month (internet included). The house was shared with 5 roommates (2 Brazilians and 3 Europeans). Vila Madalena is a very beautiful and artsy neighborhood, full of cool bars, cozy bistros, modern art galleries, and trendy boutiques. It is one of the safest & hippest areas of the town, especially known for its street art (many graffities & murals) and nightlife. Most of the other exchange students lived closer to university, in the business districts of Jardins and Bela Vista. These districts are much busier than Vila Madelena during the daytime, at the same time also less fun in the evenings. I genuinely feel like Vila Madalena and its neighboring district Pinheiros is the absolutely best São Paulo has to offer and I would highly recommend them to anyone moving to SP!

Expenses

Preparation costs

290€ for flight + 110€ for visa + ca. 10€ for criminal record + ca. 400€ for insurance + ca. 30€ for apostille on the birth certificate + 130€ for additional documents in Brazil (in order to register the visa at the Brazilian Federal Police, including a sworn translation of the original birth certificate and a notarized copy of the passport – to be done directly in São Paulo)

Costs of living (monthly)

Accommodation: ca. 410€ + Local transportation: ca. 150€ (especially Uber) + Groceries and restaurants: ca. 450€ + Leisure activities: ca. 400-800€ (depending on the number of trips – flights within Brazil are pretty expensive, especially when booked last minute) + Mobile phone plan: ca. 13€

Everyday Life

  • Transportation: São Paulo has a very modern and efficient subway system, that allows you to reach most parts of the city in no time (waiting time in between the trains is on average 2 minutes). At night it is recommended to take Uber, as sometimes it is not very safe to walk around after sunset.
  • Communication: Vivo prepaid SIM card with a weekly plan (Vivo Turbo BIS): 3GB + unlimited WhatsApp + unlimited calls to Vivo for 15R$ a week (approx. 13€ a month)
  • Medical care: The doctor’s office at university can be visited for free without an appointment. Medication against basic diseases can be bought at local pharmacies without a prescription.
  • Means of payment: Credit card accepted basically everywhere in SP (it is not recommended to pay by card at street stalls, as credit card data gets regularly copied) – Cash can be withdrawn for free at Bradesco and Banco do Brasil
  • Shopping: Avendia Paulista, Rua Augusta or Vila Butanta (for general shopping), Oscar Freire (for more exclusive brands), Bom Retiro (for cheap clothes) and Rua 25 de Março (for cheap electronics, accessories, etc.)
  • Food: A typical Brazilian meal consists of rice, beans, and meat – many Brazilian eateries (called lanchonetes) offer such abundant dishes for less than 4€. As São Paulo is the culinary center of Brazil, it is easy to find a great variety of different cuisines throughout the city (for example, Japanese food in Liberdade or Italian food in Bixiga).
  • Events: SP is full of music festivals, concerts, etc. – it is impossible to get bored!
  • Bars: Many nice rooftop bars with mesmerizing views, for example, Terraço Italia, Skye or Alto da Harmonia.
  • Markets: There are plenty of markets on the weekend, where one can find everything starting from furniture to food, clothing or accessories (Feira da Praça Benedito Calixto, Feira da Liberdade, Feira Beco do Batman).
  • Parks: Parque do Ibirapuera for nature walks, picnics or biking & Praça Pôr do Sol for beautiful sunsets.
  • Street festivals: Avenida Paulista on Sundays: Every Sunday the whole Avenida Paulista closes for cars and fills up with musicians, dancing groups, tightrope walkers, street stalls and various artists. The legendary “Carnaval do Brasil” in February: Brazilians love carnival and celebrate accordingly. The season starts at the beginning of February with so-called “Pré Carnaval”-parties and finishes sometime in March with periodical Post Carnaval celebrations. Make sure to wear crazy costumes and as much glitter as possible!
  • Museums: Besides food, São Paulo is also famous for being the cultural capital of Brazil. The most well-known museums are MASP and the Pinacoteca de Estado.
  • Hiking: There are a few hikes around São Paulo with views over the city (Pico do Jaraguá).

CEMS

The CEMS cohort in SP was pretty small, mostly composed of exchange students and less active than in Vienna. Nevertheless, we had an awesome group of exchange students from the whole university (including Bachelor students and students from other Master programs) that organized a lot of events and were fun to hang out with! All the CEMSies I got to know during my stay in Brazil were extremely well-traveled, loved the South American mentality and were always ready for a laugh. Also, a big shout out to Eliene, our program manager, who always made sure everyone was having a good time!

Differentiation

FGV is a very renowned private university in the business district of SP (close to Avenida Paulista). It is small compared to WU but has everything one may need, including a doctor’s office, a spacious library, ATMs, sports facilities and a solid variety of restaurants/cafeterias. Classes are generally less time-consuming than at WU, as most of the Master students work full time. The semester is divided into two modules (the 1st module starts at the end of January and goes until mid-April, while the 2nd module finishes at the end of June). Exchange students are required to take at least one course in each module.

While São Paulo is a generally safe city in Brazil, it is important to be careful at all times. Pickpocketing is very common, armed robberies occasionally happen but are nothing to be afraid of. In general, the safety standard depends very much on the area you are in. While it is safe to walk alone at night around Vila Madalena, you should avoid doing that in other areas of the city. As general safety rules, it is recommended to refrain from wearing expensive jewelry/watches and taking out the cellphone too much on the streets (especially in very busy places, as it can be snatched out of the hands very quickly). When in dodgy places, always take an Uber.

Awesomeness

São Paulo is an absolutely amazing city, that has a lot to offer and where it is utterly impossible to run out of things to do. Even though security is certainly an issue, I never experienced anything bad during my stay. Instead, I got welcomed by the most warmhearted, joyful and generous people that made my stay incredibly fantastic. Besides that, Brazil is a fascinating country with many diverse landscapes, starting from the jungle in the Amazonas, the incredible waterfalls of Iguaçu, white sand deserts in Lençóis Maranhenses or beautiful beaches along the coasts of Rio de Janeiro.

Secret tips

Brazil is full of unique travel locations! Among the most breathtaking and least well-known places, you can find the dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses, the national park of Jalapão, the waterfalls around Chapada dos Veadeiros (like Cachoeira Loquinhas and Santa Barbara) and the paradisiac island of Boipeba.

Anything else you would like to share?

Go to Brazil if you are ready for the most amazing time of your life!

Would you be okay with being contacted by future outgoings if they have questions?

Sure 🙂 Hit me up on Facebook: Elisa Fabrizi.