After I had already completed a six-month student exchange in Salvador Bahia in northeastern Brazil, I was very happy to get to know another part of the country during a semester abroad at UFSC. Thanks to the promise of the AWARE scholarship, my stay abroad was financially secured and through the cooperation between the THI and UFSC, I did not have to worry about the crediting of the courses in Germany.
To anticipate it: I can highly recommend a stay in Florianópolis, the so-called Ilha da Magia, to everyone. Life on this small island in the south of Brazil was a fascinating and formative event.
I think everyone who is thinking about studying in Brazil has already studied the country extensively. There are many good travel guides, so here are just a few short impressions of Florianópolis.
Florianópolis is the capital of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina and is mostly located on an island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge. In winter months Florianópolis has about 400.000 inhabitants. During the summer time this number increases up to 2.000.000 due to numerous vacation homes in the beach areas of the island.
Regarding the security situation and infrastructure of the island, it has to be said that the development in the south of Brazil is very advanced and is often compared to the Europe of Latin America. This can be seen in the culture of the people as well as in the security situation in general. As long as you are not careless, you do not need to worry about robberies and thefts in Florianópolis. Delays of the people or bus connections, which are usual for many parts of Latin America, one searches in vain here up to the summer months. During the summer months, traffic jams often occur during rush hours due to the large number of residents.
To the island and its surroundings is to be assured that there are many beautiful beaches and possible leisure activities. No matter if you like hiking, surfing or diving - everyone who likes to be in nature will get his money's worth.
Regarding public transportation, you can be sure that in Florianópolis it is very regular and you do not need a car. If you want to use one temporarily, you can rent a car on the spot (less than 30€ per day) or take a cab, which will take you around at a very reasonable price compared to European prices.
Study at the UFSC
In Florianópolis there are many different courses on offer, so there should be a suitable course for everyone. The crediting in Germany went without any problems after consultation with the professors. Basically, I can promise that all courses will be held in Portuguese and the exams will be written in this language.
While the level of the courses is similar to the courses in Germany, the type of teaching is very different. First of all, it is unusual for us that attendance is compulsory during the courses (at least 75%, otherwise the course cannot be credited). At the beginning or end of the course, signature lists are circulated, and some lecturers also call up the students individually. Unlike at the THI, there are two to three exams in all subjects, often paired with essays, presentations or homework, so that one has "exam stress" several times per semester. In return, the subject matter is more clearly delineated.
The course sizes are similar to those in Ingolstadt. In most subjects there are 30 to 40 students. Classes are much more interactive and there is a familiar atmosphere between lecturers and students. There is much discussion and frequent demand. Overall, the lectures are more practical, less emphasis is placed on theoretical principles and derivations than at the THI.
Living in Brazil
To live in Florianópolis is to promise that there is something for almost every type of person. No matter if you want to have a rather quiet semester abroad with many sports activities or if you want to party a lot, the island and its surroundings offer the best conditions.
The sportive activities leave almost no wishes open. No matter if you like to play soccer, tennis, surfing or kite surfing, there are good opportunities for it. Since the Brazilians are generally very open and sociable, this is a great opportunity to meet new people and make contacts.
Regarding the nightly activities, it is to be said that in Florianópolis there is something to do every evening. There are many different clubs and bars, which are open on different days during the week and always well attended.
In addition, during our semester abroad we threw a lot of house parties, mostly combined with a Brazilian churrasco, with exchange students and locals. The groups in Brazil are very open and you will quickly find a connection. In Brazil it is also not at all a problem to take foreign people to other parties, so that you can integrate yourself very quickly in different groups.
Finally, I would like to thank the AWARE team for making this unique stay abroad possible. I had a great semester and I have never regretted my decision to go to Florianópolis. I would make this decision again anytime and I would like to encourage everyone to take this unique opportunity to live for half a year in a foreign and completely different culture.
If you have any questions or need help with the preparation, you can contact Mrs. Kopytynski for my contact information. I will gladly answer detailed questions or give you a more comprehensive report.
Michael Fett, Bachelor student for industrial engineering and management at THI