News Study in Brazil ... and face insecurity

Study in Brazil … and face insecurity


Brazil makes French students dream. The testimonies received by Expat Mail underline the extraordinary welcome of the Brazilians and the wealth of experiences the country has in store. But most also mentioned the climate of insecurity and the necessary precautions.

“You went to study in Brazil. Tell us how you live this experience? ” Many of you have responded to our call for testimonies and obviously just as many have been marked by this experience: all the testimonies received without exception in particular underline the quality of the welcome from Brazilians.

“Brazil, I dream of going back!”

Florian, who completed his first year of exchange in Brazil as part of his license in foreign languages ​​applied to João Pessoa, in the state of Paraiba, and his second year of master’s in Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais, is among the most eloquent:

The real treasure of Brazil is neither carnival (although it is an experience to live at least once in your life and no matter the city!), Nor its beaches or its hypnotic parties, but quite simply its people, if diverse, mixed, multicultural and warm. ”

Laure, who had the chance to attend the Rio Carnival during her stay, also testifies to her enthusiasm:

I wanted change and I got it! It was an extraordinary experience for me. I do not regret this choice. There, I could see sublime landscapes and the festive atmosphere that reigns in Rio, especially during the carnival. Brazil has changed my vision of the world. Since I left Rio de Janeiro, I have only thought of one thing: to go back there as soon as possible (or even settle there for a few years). I particularly like this city because there is everything: beautiful landscapes, the beach, the mountains, wild parties … ”

Same experience for Chloe, student in international trade at Porto Alegre:

It has been the most incredible experience I have had so far. I met a very open and welcoming population who, beyond the curiosity of the beginning, made me feel at home very quickly. I discovered the very strong identity of this region with traditions still very present. ”

“The least pleasant is insecurity”

Yet the other leitmotif that comes up in the responses we received concerns insecurity. With one of the highest homicide rates in the world (51,609 murders recorded in 2018), Brazil ranks high among the countries considered to be the most dangerous in the world. French students often leave with a certain apprehension. Clotilde, who completed her third year of license in São Paulo: “I left with my fears and my doubts, with a certain fear of this country, considered at home as dangerous.”

Especially when you are a tourist, the risks exist: theft and assault are frequently mentioned. Camille, a veterinarian who spent six months in Brazil as part of his fourth year of studies, in Botucatu, near São Paulo, and in Garanhuns, in the Northeast, paid the price. He tells :

The least pleasant was the insecurity. This was not too much the case in Botucatu (university city), but rather in the big cities (São Paulo, Recife) and in Garanhuns. I lived with Brazilian roommates who advised me to go out without my credit card, with just a little cash. And not to show my cell phone too often. I was unfortunately pointed at Recife : I had to give up my cell phone. “

Violence due to a very marked social fracture in the country, with very strong inequalities and a very present racism towards black and mestizo people – tensions which have not eased since the election of Jair Bolsonaro. Louise, who completed her final year in Santos before registering for a law degree at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, explains:

One important thing to know before leaving for Brazil is that there is institutionalized racism. We have the impression that blacks and whites mix easily in Brazil, but it is quite the opposite! Racism is so present that for many it does not exist so much it has been normalized. ”

The essential precautions

To avoid many setbacks, the main thing is to adapt to the culture and lifestyle of Brazilians, advises Antoine Mayer, student in engineering school, after an exchange semester in São Paulo:

Life in Brazil has its drawbacks. It’s an invitation to observe the locals, because ultimately they manage to live their lives despite insecurity, inequality and political unrest. ”

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Do not wear valuable jewelry, do not walk around with your papers and credit card but with just a little cash, do not take your phone out too much in public, adopt the flip flop style, and above all talk with the locals and ask them for advice … “We must not be discouraged by insecurity because if we respect the rules, everything will be fine”, says Lola, who also studied for six months in São Paulo.

Do not attract attention, blend in with the decor to enjoy everything like the locals without living permanently in fear of aggression … So many tips that are worth even more for a girl: travel alone at the other end of the world can often scare, especially when you are very young. Brazilians tend to multiply councils. Lola remembers:

They are very considerate, or even too attentive. Many of them say to you: “Above all, don’t go there, especially don’t do this and that …” As an expatriate, I found it nice, but also scary. Listening to them, so as not to have a problem, the best thing is not to go out … An Uber driver even said to me: “You are crazy for making me come and get you here, you can be robbed!”

In Belo Horizonte, a reassuring climate of tolerance

Audrey, a business school student who spent eight months at Belo Horizonte, shared the good surprise she had when she arrived in Brazil, emphasizing the climate of tolerance that struck her straight away:

Living in Paris since my adolescence, I was confronted very early with street harassment and insecurity. In Brazil, I was never whistled or attacked once! And Brazilians always asked for my consent before risking the slightest gesture with sexual overtones, even to give me a simple kiss. In this country so mixed, I felt a tolerance that I had not really seen in France. Tolerance towards strangers, sexual orientation, gender or non-gender… ”

Audrey at Belo Horizonte. PHOTO Audrey Ait-Oubakli

An exceptional experience in a Rio favela

In the second year of business school, Fanny had an exceptional experience during her exchange year in Rio:

Going to Brazil was my dream. When I got there, I was a bit lost, especially because of the size of the city … But the scenery, the atmosphere, the warmth, everything right now enjoyed. After a month, I met a Brazilian who explained a lot to me: the places to avoid, the behavior to adopt depending on the situation and gave details on the daily life of the population. Everything nobody can explain to you before you leave. ”

By moving in with his friend in a favela, closer to the Brazilian population, Fanny is proud to have known “The hidden side of Brazil”. She discovered another life, learned local expressions, swapped her shoes for a pair of flip flops and became “The most Brazilian of French women” according to the Brazilians she met. An experience that the young woman will never forget:

The Zona Sul, where many French people live, it’s beautiful, it’s rich, but the heart of Brazil, the real Brazilian culture is in a favela. I will never forget these evenings without electricity to sleep on the water supply, on the terrace, the howls of joy in the favela as soon as the electricity and therefore the air conditioning come back, the children on the street, the friends and smiles… Even if the end of the month was not always easy. ”


Launched in April 2016 and intended for French expatriates and expatriation candidates, Courrier Expat offers information drawn from the international press on the professional and personal environment of French people abroad, on the


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