Since I have been in country now for two full weeks and I have spent almost the same amount of time attending classes through the ISA program, it seems appropriate at this time to discuss the ISA program here in Florianopolis from orientation to classes to excursions.
The overall organization of the program and the professionalism of the staff have made my transition virtually pain-free. Upon arrival in country, the staff took great care in ensuring that all the students were picked up at the airport and transported to the hotel where we stayed for the night. The scheduled orientation sessions and meetings were extremely helpful in acclimating us to the area and explaining important cultural differences to aid in our transition.
While classes here are different than the typical classes I’ve taken in the US, I am enjoying them very much. In a short period of time I have learned a lot. I credit the rate of my learning to the significantly smaller class size and the emphasis of cultural immersion. The professors use many different techniques to deliver their materials. For example, in my cultural lab class the professor uses music, movies, guest presenters with specialties in the areas of study, and class trips. In my beginner’s Portuguese class, the professor uses various games and hands-on exercises to reiterate the material covered in the textbook.
Through one of our planned excursions, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Blumenau. For the state of Santa Catarina, which is where Florianopolis is located, Blumenau is among the top three economically viable cities in the state. There we visited the Crystal Museum, where we were able to see how crystal is made. Afterwards, we walked around Blumenau to see some houses and the famous river that brought the immigrants. During that walk, we visited the house that belonged to the founder of the city. We had lunch at a restaurant called Saint Peter. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet. The price was very reasonable and the variety of food, desserts and juices were wonderful. After lunch, we toured the award winning Eisenbahn Brewery where we learned how they make their famous beer and we were given a free sample of their draft beer. The last stop on our excursion was to the pavilion where the city holds its Oktoberfest. Many of the inhabitants of Blumenau are of German descent and it is clear from the look of the city that they have held onto their German heritage. The size of the Oktoberfest held in Blumenau is second only to the one held in Germany.