05 November 2009

Studying Abroad. . . Busting out the Portuguese

So, as some of you know, I'm planning to study abroad next semester in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  I'm going through a College of Architecture and Planning program.  The way the program works is this: I receive a grant to help me buy my plane tickets, to cover the cost of housing, and to have a little left over for traveling.  When I get to my host university, I find the coordinating professor and together we set up my coursework, which is all related to sustainability and landscape architecture.  The "catch" is that I have to coordinate nearly all of it myself.  Thankfully, I studied abroad on a similar program last year, so I have an idea of what I need to do.  Right now the most pressing matter is applying to my host university; however, the application is completely in Portuguese.  

My Future Home. . . Kind of. 

So, in order to apply, I need to master enough Portuguese to fill out an application and write a one-paged essay about why I want to study in Brazil.  My coordinating professor here in the States has set up a Portuguese class for the three of us who are going to Brazil this spring, and we've been learning a LOT.  Portuguese is my fourth language, but since my second language is Spanish, I'm learning Portuguese pretty quickly.  Already I can read most Portuguese, or at least guess the meanings of words I don't understand.  I suppose that's good for filling out my application; however, I have trouble when speaking Portuguese-- I mix in tons of Spanish, which sometimes works and sometimes fails miserably.  Writing the application essay is going to be challenging, to say the least.  And I'll have to have my professor proofread it several times before I'll be willing to send it in.  I guess it's all a part of the process.

My other big dilemma is trying to decide which classes I want to take.  I'm 99% positive I want to go on CAPAsia next year, which should be my last semester at Ball State; however, if I do this I may not graduate on time.  I've been putting off some of my core classes, so if I can't get credit for these in the next two semesters I'm stuck here for another year.  My biggest concern is an Engineering 2: Materials class I didn't take last spring (since I was in Mexico).  As of last year the professor was of the opinion that I need to physically be in Muncie to learn the information.  Now, she is the professor and knows much more about the subject than me and therefore is in a much better position to decided whether I could learn the information in an independent study, but still.  The more I hash out the numbers, it looks like the only class that has a good chance keeping me from graduating. And it seems silly to finish all my coursework but one class in the spring of 2011, start working, and a year later take the one class in the spring of 2012. (Did I mention the course is offered only in the spring?) Silly as it sounds though, it may be worth it. 

So that's where we are as far as studying abroad.  Step 1: find a program and funding. Check.  Step 2: Apply for admission and decide on classes.  Working on it.


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