One of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve encountered during my MBA pursuit was a trip to Brazil. My International Business Challenge course culminated with a trip to the picturesque South American country.
The experience was a delicate blend of fun, education, and tourism. I instantly fell in love with the
men country. With 30 MBA students in tow, our journey began in vibrant Rio De Janeiro and capped off in Brazil’s business hub of Sau Paulo.
When you travel it gives new meaning to many things, puts others into a clearer perspective & reminds you what is really important in life. Here are 11 lessons I learned in Brazil:
1. BRAZIL IS AN EMERGING ECONOMY:
As a member of the BRIC nations (along with Russia, India, and China) Brazil is undergoing huge economic development. With it’s population over 200 million, it is the 5th largest country in the world.
2. RIO DE JANEIRO REMINDS ME OF LOS ANGELES:
The beautiful beaches, casual dress and laid back vibe instantly won me over. I felt so at home in Rio. The upbeat nightlife and culture is comparable to Miami. It’s a fun city and everything we see on tv and in movies.
3. SAU PAULO REMINDS ME OF NEW YORK:
I was pleasantly surprised to see what a huge metropolis Sau Paulo is. There are skyscrapers abound, nonstop hustle and bustle on Paulista Avenue, and award winning nightlife. There is a very serious undertone in the city and the attire is much more formal and conservative than Rio.
4. SKY IS THE LIMIT:
The result of my group winning our MBA International Brazil Challenge was a private helicopter tour over Sau Paulo. I was expecting a jolty, Tom Cruise style movie scene but enjoyed a picturesque smooth ride in the chopper. The birdseye view revealed superstructures abound. It was a stunning visual of the concrete jungle.
5. THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS A POSTCARD:
From pristine beaches in Rio to detailed architecture of downtown Sau Paulo, Brazil is breathtaking. It is a clean city on the forefront of green technology. Public transportation is widely used and people are active on foot. Our hotels had weird lighting systems that helped decrease the use of electricity.
6. THE PEOPLE ARE BEAUTIFUL:
Living in a city like Los Angeles full of actors and models I thought I had grown jaded to physical beauty. WRONG!!! Everywhere you turn in Brazil is someone more beautiful from the next. The security guard, guy selling souvenirs on the corner, the police…don’t even get me started on the soccer players…Brazil is winning in the looks department. Eat your heart out LA!!!
7. DON’T JUDGE FAVELA RESIDENTS BY NEGATIVE PRESS:
Visiting Brazilian favelas was one of the highlights of my trip. Favela images of police vs drug lord shootouts are rampant in the media, but I was deeply humbled by many kind and spirited residents. We were invited to our guide’s home where his mom prepared a traditional meal, kids greeted us with a musical performance, and we partied late night doing the Samba.
8. BRAZILIANS KNOW FOOD:
I’ve been to some places where the food looks & smells so weird I’m afraid to try it, but NOT Brazil. Acai tops my list and instantly became my daily crack. Throw in exotic fresh fruit, barbecued meats, pao de queijo (cheese ball bread), brigadeiros (sweetened condensed milk w/chocolate & butter), feijoada (seasoned stewed beans), and stuffed puffed pastry…I was in cuisine heaven and came back with an extra ass.
9. BRAZILIANS LOVE FACEBOOK:
Every Brazilian I met immediately asked if I was on Facebook. Facebook in Brazil has 107.7 million users — 89 million of whom are active monthly and 59 million are active daily. Brazil is the second-largest user base after the U.S. Last week, the online giant launched a new initiative to offer entrepreneurial and technology skills to small businesses in Heliopolis, Sao Paulo’s biggest favela.
10. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS ARE WORTH THE HYPE:
Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, Maracana Stadium, Sau Paulo Museum of Art…definitely all worthy stops. They are miraculous and majestic in person. Despite being popular tourist spots they all maintain their cultural integrity and feel very authentic.
11. FUTBOL IS LIFE:
Brazilians love their futbol. Brazil reigns as the most successful country in the FIFA World Cup with 5 titles. From the country shutting down during Brazil’s World Cup play to nonstop games televised on Tuesdays and Wednesdays it’s all about soccer. You can see pickup games on the beach and locals juggling soccer balls on a daily walk. Futbol legends like Pele, Neymar, and the Three R’s (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Rivaldo) proves this country breeds soccer success.
Brazil is a booming country chockfull of personality, culture, panoramic views, and hearty cuisine. However it is the heart, passion, and pride of the people that have truly won me over.
Muito Abrigada Brasil!