For first-generation college students, life abroad can be quite shocking, beyond the fact studying abroad itself is an eye-opening experience. As students whose parents did not attend college, sometimes we know little to nothing about what studying abroad means. For example, when I arrived at UC Davis I didn’t know about studying abroad, much less that I could do it for a year with financial assistance readily available. Many other first-generation students find themselves in the same shoes.Brazil is the biggest country in Latin America where Portuguese, not English or Spanish, is spoken. When I first arrived, I was ecstatic about living in a foreign country and learning a new language. I still am today because I keep meeting new folks and improving my language skills. Yet, I quickly learned that things were not going to be easy. I would need to adjust differently than some of my peers. In particular, from Europeans and Brazilian students who have traveled extensively for either personal or educational purposes.If you are a student of color, some people, including peers from Europe and locals in Brazil, will question whether you are an American simply because you are not white. They associate whiteness with being American. Nonetheless, they will open their arms to you as a foreigner from the United States.
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