Graduate Blog / Graduate Life

Brazil: Indecisive about taking an elective abroad? Babson in Brazil – Spring break 2015

Many of us were pondering what to do for spring break. Some of our friends decided to take an elective abroad and travel to Brazil. They had an awesome experience! They had the opportunity to increase their knowledge about a different country and culture, try different food, make new friends as they met Babson students from different classes/programs, and explore new cities while soaking up some needed sunshine after a really cold winter here in Boston.

Four students shared their experience with us:

Amanda Gotlieb M´15: “Whether it was sharing a few beers or Caipirinhas together, taking in a live band at a local Brazilian club, touring the streets of Rio together, or swimming off a boat in Paraty together, these are the memories that will stand out in my mind long after we have all departed Babson”


I would absolutely recommend taking an elective abroad with Babson!  It’s a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand what it takes to do business in another country.  The Brazil elective was amazing for giving us access to top-notch companies across a variety of industry sectors including Embraer (manufacturing/aviation) which was a real coup.  Furthermore, at many of the companies we got to sit down with the CEO themselves and have a frank discussion about their business and their own personal career trajectories which was full of “pearls of wisdom”.

I was able to have great conversations and share meaningful experiences with classmates who I had never even met until this trip and likely wouldn’t have that opportunity if it not for this trip.

What was your favourite part of the trip to Brazil?

I can’t narrow it down to one specific part but I will say the following were some of my favorite parts from the trip:

THE Brazilian BBQ at Barbocoa

After hearing about the Brazilian BBQ experience from my Brazilian classmates (Bruno J) I was fortunate enough to experience it firsthand in Brazil and boy did it not disappoint! This is coming from someone who is not a huge meat-eater but I can honestly say it was the best meat I have ever eaten! It truly is a meat-a-thon with every type of meat/cut under the sun.

Afro Reggae

We were fortunate to be able to visit Afro Reggae at one of the community centers in a “favela” or slum.  After an inspiring presentation by one of the local leaders we watched two performances by the youth which included lots of “cirque-du-soleil” worthy acrobatic dance moves and a very energizing and moving performance by their “band” comprised of drum/percussionists.  The highpoint was actually participating in a performance with the band.


Everything about Rio! Sao Paolo was great but Rio seemed to have that cool vibe and of course ocean beachfront/ocean view.

What was something unexpected that you learned/saw in your trip to Brazil?

I have to say that I was really surprised at how friendly and humble Brazilians are. I was surprised to see that even in a business context this was the case, where at one firm the CEO, who had enjoyed great success at a very young age, completely admitted to how many mistakes were made on the road to success and what he learned from them.   Also, I took note the importance of human relationships in Brazilian business environment, which come above and beyond anything else.   Even when talking to the private equity firm I was struck at how the CEO kept emphasizing how relationships and related-to that culture trump financial metrics any day. Oh and on a completely unrelated note, I learned if you go Paraty (which is very beautiful btw) make sure to bring bug spray, lots and lots of bug spray and a flashlight!

Sun Brazil

Rob Ahlering M´15: “I can certainly say that Brazil was the trip of a lifetime and that I will never forget it!”


First, it was the perfect combination of fun, travel, learning about business in another country and exposure to a new culture. Second, I viewed this as an opportunity to commemorate business school and have a cherished memory to look back on many years from now. The trip to Brazil fulfilled both of these objectives. I decided to go on this trip because I had always wanted to go to Brazil. The picturesque beaches of Rio and the Christo had long been burned into my memory and this was the perfect opportunity to travel to a new place and create new experiences and friendships. It’s amazing how in just a week, you can form closer bonds and friendships.

What was your favorite part of the trip to Brazil? 

 My favorite part of the trip was the variety of executives that we met with and the various cities we visited. Essentially, every day was different and each experience was unique. Additionally, we weren’t just meeting with managers or Vice Presidents, we were interacting with the CEOs and entrepreneurs themselves. The executives and entrepreneurs shared their time with us and were very generous and humble. I think it was clear from each visit/experience that they wanted to share their learning experiences with us to help us become better entrepreneurs and to further understand business in Brazil.

What was something unexpected that you learned/ saw in your trip to Brazil?

I was surprised to learn that the education system in Brazil has left the country in need of quality, educated and qualified personnel. This is reflected in the CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies being in their mid- to late 30’s. This is extremely different to things in the US, where most billion dollar firms are run by men and women who are further on in their careers.

Trem do Corcovado

Radhika Aggarwal M´15: “(An elective abroad) gives you a very interesting perspective on entrepreneurship in a different economy which is a brilliant experience to gain!”


I would absolutely recommend taking an elective abroad! I can only list positives. It not only gives you great networking opportunities with Babson students but also professionals from the elective abroad location one has picked!

What was your favorite part of the trip to Brazil? 

Hard to pick! But my favorite part would be visiting Rio and going to Afro Reggae – a cultural organisation working out of slums in Brazil and helping people there to not get into drugs and violence. The group had organized an entire show for us and they even taught us how to do a few fun things like playing drums with tin cans and wooden sticks.

What was something unexpected that you learned/ saw in your trip to Brazil?

Well there are a few things actually. Although Brazil is a developing country, it is very technology savvy which is exemplified by its payment system in clubs and bars where instead of paying by cash or credit card throughout the night, the customers fingerprints and photo is taken and a card is handed over which works like a credit card all night and the customer has to pay all together at the end of the night. This is something I found much unexpected to see as this is a very logical concept and does neither happen in the US not the UK, two places where I have lived!

One critical thing I learnt was that Brazilian people know how to balance work and life and the sheer ease in people there, friendliness, calmness, rigor for life was a great insight as compared to what we see in other countries where there is stress to succeed and compete. Brazil is a great country with great friendly warm people always ready for a conversation and a good meal! And that’s how one should balance life!

Brazil trip

Maria Cristina Cruz M´15: “I loved getting the chance to learn about a Latin country, and would have never guessed it would be so surprising to visit my neighboring country!”


Maria Cristina took the Brazil elective abroad last semester. She was kind to share her perspective:

An elective abroad is a great way to get a firsthand look into new markets, cultures, and ways of doing business. You can travel to places without getting to know the market dynamics there, so having a professor and in-country guide to introduce you to business can really make the difference in framing the mindset you take on the trip.

What was your favorite part of the trip to Brazil? 

There were a lot of great moments. I loved going to Afro Reggae and Meninos du Morumbi, two great social entrepreneurship initiatives. One of the most notorious things about Brazilian (and Latin culture in general) is the great wealth disparity. Having the chance to see two great institutes making a difference in the lives of people who need it most through music and arts, was great.

What was something unexpected that you learned/ saw in your trip to Brazil? 

We went to Brazil only a month before they were set to host the soccer World Cup. It was much unexpected to see that a lot of the works didn’t seem to be ready! There was a lot of discontent with how the government was handling things. And, worst of all, the soccer-obsessed locals themselves seemed disappointed to be hosting the Cup under these conditions. It was interesting to see how the population could have mixed emotions from hosting the main event of their favorite sport!