Lizzy Wendel


Majors: Neuroscience and Behavior

Why did you choose your program?

Favorite story: My favorite memory from abroad actually occurred out of coincidence. We visited a non-profit called 4YOU2, which provides affordable English lessons to the favela community members of Sao Paulo. In the backyard of the building as we were about to leave, we stumbled across a group called Nave Capao, who help the favela children foster musical creativity. We all danced to the beat of their drums together in the backyard, and even though they spoke no English and we spoke very little Portuguese, we were able to converse. One of the girls pointed to my classmate and my eyes and said the Portuguese word for “color”, expressing that she had never seen blue eyes in real life before. At the end of our interaction, we all hugged each other, a Brazilian custom, and went home.

One piece of advice: While you are abroad, do everything you can to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the particular community you are in. Learn the language and talk to locals, eat the food that may not look so appetizing, explore the back streets, and do what a typical citizen would do on a Saturday afternoon. Your experience will be so much more memorable and help elevate your cultural competence if you go beyond the “tour guide” approach to your time in another country.