It is our policy that students must live in a Portuguese speaking environment; you may not live alone nor solely with other English speakers. Due to the obvious benefits of cultural immersion and concern for students’ safety, we recommend that students take advantage of a homestay. Students should understand that while every effort will be made to accommodate their request, it is not always possible to grant everyone’s first choice. We encourage you to keep an open mind in terms of your housing, as with all other aspects of the experience, and make an effort to integrate into the host family lifestyle.
As students are only billed for tuition; you are expected to pay your rent directly to your landlord at the beginning of each month. The first payment will be due upon arrival and students may be asked for a deposit.
Students will complete a housing form to convey your housing preferences to the School in Brazil director, who will place you accordingly. Please be aware that not all housing arrangements will allow for individual doors to be locked. The director will send program students the host families’ contact information approximately two weeks before orientation starts. The assigned rooms will be available starting on the official arrival date (the day before the orientation sessions begin), so if you plan to travel to your site before that date, you should contact your host family and check for room availability; if unavailable, you should book a room in a hotel. Also, since the housing placement will be assigned according to the preferences stated in the housing form, we expect students to keep their original meal arrangement.
If you have contacts in Brazil and wish to arrange your own housing (of any type), you must adhere to the policy above. The staff in Brazil has the final word on approving students’ housing to ensure their safety, maximum cultural immersion and reasonable commute times to the university.
Homestays, like families, vary widely in terms of composition; there may be one parent or two and there may or may not be children living at home. Homestays typically include breakfast and dinner, and students may ask to have kitchen access. Restaurant meals can be found at modest prices, and eating out is a common practice. Generally, students will have a single room, but will share a bathroom with other family members. Homestays offer a greater level of integration with the family.
It is also important to note that traditional homestays are mainly located in neighborhoods that might not be within walking distance to campus, except in Florianópolis. While these non-university neighborhoods can offer a deeper sense of community and they better represent a regular Brazilian daily routine, students might need to walk up to 25 minutes, take a 12-30 minutes bus or a 6-10 minute ride share, like Uber, back and forth to campus.
In Niterói, most home stays are technically walkable, though most students prefer to take the bus, as the Icaraí neighborhood is a long walk from campus.
In Belo Horizonte, traditional homestays are available in the following neighborhoods:
- Bairro Coração Eucarístico (closest to the university–12 minutes by bus, 6 minutes by ride share)
- Bairro Padre Eustáquio, Bairro Dom Bosco
- Bairro João Pinheiro
The best areas for entertainment are the Região Centro Sul (25 minutes to/from campus by car. 45-55 minutes by bus), Bairro Savassi, Bairro Funcionários, Bairro Lourdes, and Bairro Santo Antônio.
Bairro Santa Tereza is the Bohemian neighborhood, 22 minutes from campus by subway.
Students are expected to stay for at least one month with the family that they have been assigned. Should you want to move elsewhere after the months ends, you must notify the host family and the director two weeks in advance of your departure date, and pay for those two weeks.
Due to the economic crisis in Brazil, a change in the homestay concept is evolving. Traditional families have been renting larger homes/apartments to four or five students (in a style that replicates the república, but in a more familiar environment). Each type of situation has its merits. Traditional homestays might feel like a grandmother’s home; newer repúblicas will not have meal plan and might require more initiative from the student due to the high level of independence afforded by the host, who serves as more of a manager of the space, enforcing rules and managing repairs. While these repúblicas are within walking distance to campus, the neighborhood might empty during holidays and on weekends, as most of the students travel outside the city or return home.
Year-long students may also be able to find their own accommodation in a home-style pensão (apartment) during their second semester. In most cases, the owner of the flat or house rents single rooms (often to students) who share common bathing, kitchen, and social spaces. As rental properties, these are often even closer to campus area, but the facilities will not be up to the standard of living of a typical family. No meals are provided. This option should be considered by those who prefer a higher level of independence during their second semester and who may have met friends during their first semester with whom they would like to live for the rest of their time in Brazil
Costs and Amenities
When weighing the pros and cons of the different housing situations, please keep in mind that you do get what you pay for in terms of amenities. Obviously, students in homestays paying for meals will pay more to their landlord, but they receive more for their higher price tag than just food. Students in homestay will have very few set-up costs. Those who select a república or pensão will have to purchase many things such as linens, cleaning products, kitchen implements, fans, etc. They will also need to find a place to do their own laundry and, in the case of the pensão, arrange for their own utilities and problem-solve repair issues themselves.