Written by Leaynet Sahilu, (Howard University) Student Correspondent CET Brazil, Spring 2018
Prior to my arrival in Brazil, my Portuguese professor told me a few things about the difference between college life and the education system in Brazil and how different it is from the United States. For instance, I remember when my professor told me that there are no dormitories within college campuses in Brazil and many students have to commute from home to school and vice versa. However, there are some students like my Brazilian roommates, who are students at PUC and are fortunate enough to live close and do not have to commute on a daily basis. They were awarded a scholarship from PUC and also get housing close to PUC and that has made things easier for them.
Officially known as the Pontifical Catholic University or Pontifícia Universidade Católica, PUC is one of the well-reputed and prestigious private universities in Brazil. This learning institution has four campuses within São Paulo, one of them located in the affluent neighborhood of Perdizes. I also noticed that the Perdizes campus also has its own church, where I actually take two of my courses and pray. PUC also has additional locations in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Goiânia, and Campinas.
My experience as an international student at a Catholic institution like PUC has been a positive one. Aside from taking courses, getting to witness the campus life at a Brazilian university like PUC and meeting local Brazilian students, as well as fellow exchange students, I have been able to strengthen my connection with God. In short, attending at PUC has had multiple benefits for me.
However, I was surprised by the racial demographics at PUC. In fact, I was quite astonished. As a student from an HBCU like Howard University studying at a prestigious Brazilian university like PUC, I have noticed that the racial demographics at PUC are totally the opposite from Howard. Through the multiple visits that I have made to PUC’s campus during my orientation and PUC-related events, I have noticed that the majority of students at the institution are racially White and mixed and there are a handful of Black and other non-White students at this institution.
This shows that there is discrimination against Blacks and people of color in Brazil and that they do not have the same privilege as their White counterparts. However, efforts have been made to tackle this problem and make sure that Black and non-White students also have the opportunity to attend the same institution with their White counterparts, but there is still a long way to go to have more minorities have the opportunity to attend college.
In conclusion, despite witnessing both the positive and negative sides of PUC, I can say that my overall experience at this institution has been a positive one and I look forward to making the best out of my time at PUC.