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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Over this past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad for the first time. Looking back on it, I still can’t believe that I was given the opportunity to attend school in a different country. I think studying abroad is an opportunity that every student should do at least once in their academic career. 

The city that I stayed in for six weeks was Salvador, Brazil. Located along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Salvador is the third largest city in the country. It’s known for being the first city of Brazil, rich in Portuguese architecture, and having a colorful Afro-Brazilian culture. While I can go on and on about why you should study abroad (or visit Salvador, Brazil in general!), here is a short list of five reasons why you should look into booking a flight somewhere across the world to learn, in more ways than one.

1. The people

I have to say that one of the most pleasant experiences I had in Salvador were the immensely kind and exuberant people that I interacted with. Whether it was in the classroom or in the streets, everyone I encountered was loud, proud, and immensely conversational, leading to many stimulating chats and experiences. Not only were they enjoyable to talk with and be around, they were always willing to be helpful when it came to being acquainted with new situations, and loved to introduce themselves and the culture they loved so much. 

2. The culture

Salvador is a hotspot for a rich culture that I had never encountered before. I had been in other countries before, but the cultural history I witnessed in Salvador was unlike anything that I had seen before. Salvador and surrounding regions have a rich colonial history due to the colonization the area experienced at the hands of the Portuguese, but that is not the only history that they have. Due to having a large Afro-Brazilian population, much of the cultural traditions, dance, song, and food is largely African based. When coupled with Portuguese history, it produces a cultural background that is hard to come across in many other areas. For example, one of the main religions of Salvador is Candomblé, which originated in Brazil from diasporic African communities. As such, Candomblé traditions, culture, and the like associated with the religion is distinctly different from West African religions as well as Western. Being introduced to Candomblé as well as other cultural institutions and traditions that are a result of the unique Salvadoran context was an enriching experience that I couldn’t get anywhere else.

3. Colorful clothing 

Something that was an unexpected experience that I came across was the way that Salvadoran people dressed. It may seem silly, but one of the first things that I noticed while walking to school or strolling the Salvadoran streets was peoples’ attire–flowy skirts, breezy blouses, and colorful clothing was everywhere. I’ve been accustomed to people in the United States wearing mostly muted tones and colors that they are comfortable with, but everyone in Salvador looked good in any and every color. Seeing color in cute and stylish clothing made me want to upgrade my wardrobe immediately, and I’ve been consistently trying to expand itto emulate the carefree nature that I was able to see while studying abroad.

4. The nature 

Besides the people and the urban cityscape, the nature in Salvador was beautiful beyond words. Having never been to a South American country–let alone the Southern Hemisphere–I was able to see palm trees, swim in the Atlantic ocean, and see hills to my heart’s content. In the United States I’m used to seeing town after town and city after city, and haven’t been able to experience nature in its entirety. It should go without saying, but seeing nature live in tandem with the cityscape made me emotional to the fact that it was entirely possible for both to coexist. Not only that, but the flora and fauna was unlike anything that I have ever seen, and was as colorful as one could imagine. 

5. Sonder and Wanderlust

This isn’t restricted to being in Salvador or Brazil in general, but studying abroad in any place that wasn’t the United States made me immensely grateful for the education that I was receiving, and the experiences that came along with it. I was able to meet people in my classroom and elsewhere that I otherwise would have never encountered before, and it made me tremendously appreciative of the people that I encountered and the privilege I had being able to travel to another country to further my education. Not only that, but everything combined–the people I interacted with, the culture I was fortunate to encounter, the nature and city I saw–made me want to do the same thing in virtually every city that I could think of. If I was able to live my life to the fullest in Salvador, I could do it in any place on the map.

Studying abroad is something that I highly encourage any student to do if they are able. Not only do you further your education, but the experience of being in a city abroad, with people, culture, and nature that you are unfamiliar with, will enrich your life in ways that you couldn’t imagine unless you have done it before. You hear it from everyone who has gone abroad before, but it truly is an experience that will enhance your life in a way that you will never forget, and in a way that you want to experience ten times over. 

Belma Hodzic has been a staff writer for the Michigan State University Chapter of Her Campus since spring of 2022. Belma Hodzic is a junior at Michigan State University. A student of MSU's James Madison College, she is seeking a dual-degree in Comparative Cultures and Politics and World Politics, while double-minoring in Film Studies and Women and Gender Studies. She aspires to go into filmmaking or documentary production in the aim of representing marginalized communities and bringing culture into conversation. When she isn't studying, she enjoys exploring the horror genre and all things creepy. In her free time, she enjoys reading, drawing, watching and analyzing movies, as well as spending time with her friends.