So, after all the hassle I had when I returned from break, things are starting to look up. The study abroad office found an angel to work with the three of us who are going to Brazil. In fact, for the rest of this post, I will refer to her as "the angel." I can't do justice to my personal gratitude to her for what she's done to help us figure things out for our trip.
For starters, her appointment as the person who handles the Brazil study abroad program completely proves I was correct about needing to work with the study abroad office for my exchange and the woman who basically told me to take a hike was very misinformed. That in itself makes me feel better about the whole situation.
More importantly, the angel has worked diligently to get all three of us our acceptance letter from our Brazilian university. She did an excellent job, and all of us now have our letters. She met with the coordinator of our program so they could work together more effectively. She wrote a letter for the three of us for our visa applications, and she made sure we all knew what we have to do to apply for our visas. She's prompt in responding to emails, and when she doesn't know an answer to a question she finds out the answer rather than turning us away or telling us to ask someone else. When I met her in person she was vibrant and friendly. In absolute sincerity, I have to say she is wonderful and I'm so happy someone had idea of putting her in charge of us.
All I really have to do now is make my way to Chicago to apply for my visa. Assuming that goes well, I'll have everything I need about a week before I leave, which is in just a few weeks! Soon I'll have to start packing, but I usually put that off until the day before I leave, so in the meantime I'll just try to spend a lot of time with my friends. I'm already starting to miss them. . . .