Elena Bell, Niterói

Tufts University

What I loved most about studying abroad in Niteroi, Brazil with Middlebury was being the only non-Brazilian student in all the classes I took. I loved that two or three days would go by without speaking English, and I am thankful for the way I learned how to think outside of my own worldview/perspective. Learning about systems of economic and social oppression from Brazilian professors and classmates helped me contextualize and better understand related but different systems in my own country, and empowered me to think outside the narrow mindset that is so easy to fall into being from the United States. Most Brazilians know the names of at least three states in the United States (California! Texas! New York!...) and a dozen or so American actors and actresses, whereas most Americans assume Spanish is spoken in Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world. The small size of Middlebury’s amazing Niteroi, Brazil program allowed me to soak up as much of Brazil and Portuguese as my brain could retain, and sharing its importance back in the United States has been the long-term impact of my study abroad experience. I am excited to go back to Brazil with Fulbright in March to further promote empathy between the western hemisphere’s two most populous countries.