Checklist of Things to Pack
- Passport (and photocopy)
- Visa (and photocopy)
- Printout from the consulate with your photo on it (you’ll need this to register yourself with the Federal Police)
- Airline Ticket/Itinerary (and photocopy)
- Insurance Card (to be printed from the GeoBlue website after Middlebury enrolls you)
- Debit and Credit Cards
- Certified copy of original birth certificate (in case your passport is lost or stolen)
- Medications in original containers with generic drug name and with the corresponding doctor’s prescription (even OTC medications must be kept in original packaging)
- Mosquito repellent (for hiking) and sunscreen (favorite brands can be hard to find and expensive)
- Warm clothes, including a coat
- One set of dress clothes and shoes
- Adapter/converter/power strip: (Plug types can be found here, and a full list of which countries use which plug types can be found here.)
General Packing Suggestions
Plan carefully what to bring, keeping in mind that you will have to carry all of your own luggage while traveling. This means pack light. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Choose each item carefully and avoid duplication. Consider what you will use for luggage and avoid using extra-large or over-sized bags. As you pack for the flight over, also keep in mind that when you travel you will be carrying this same luggage by yourself, sometimes over great distances or on crowded public transportation. Take things that are easy to manage and again, avoid over-packing. One rule of thumb is to pack your bags and walk around the block with them three times; then re-pack.
Remember to also check whether luggage accompanying you is limited by weight or by physical dimensions. In view of frequently-changing airline regulations, it is essential that you find out from your airline which items may be transported in checked baggage, and which must be hand carried. Do not pack lots of books in your luggage. You can buy them in Brazil and ship them home after the term ends. We suggest that you insure your luggage.
The seasons in Brazil are the opposite of the northern hemisphere. Winter stretches from June to August, and summer runs from December to March. Generally residences and classrooms are not heated to the same extent (if at all) as in the U.S. (the average temperature indoors ranges between 50° and 60° Fahrenheit).
Brazilian students dress very similarly to their American counterparts though with a bit more style. Layered dressing for spring (September-October-November) and autumn (April-May) is recommended since temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. During winter (June-August), central heating may not be adequate, so your clothing should include wool sweaters and rain gear (rain coat, umbrella, rain boots), especially in the city. If you venture to the interior or the mountains in the winter, be sure to have heavier clothing. Dress tends to be a bit more casual during the summer months (December-March). Light clothing, preferably cotton, is necessary.
Belo Horizonte can be classified as a tropical climate, with a yearly average temperature between 18-23° Celsius. Its elevation of 852m helps to cool the city; extreme temperatures range from 8 to 39° Celsius. The rainy season stretches from October to March and the dry season from April to September. In Florianópolis, temperatures are generally warm, 30° Celsius during the day and 22° at night. June through September are cooler, with highs of 22° and lows of 9°. The rainy season on the island used to be fairly short, lasting from December through March, but lately has been starting in September. Niterói is a large city facing Rio de Janeiro across the great Baía de Guanabara, in the center-south coast of Brazil. The rainy season comes during the hot summer, with temperatures between 25-40° Celsius. The winter is mild, rarely having temperatures below 18° Celsius.
Bed and Bath Linens
We do not recommend that you bring sheets, blankets, or pillows with you. They are too heavy and take up too much space in your luggage. These items are also costly to ship in advance and can be easily purchased once you arrive in Brazil. If you are going to be living with a host family, sheets, towels, and blankets will often be provided.
Toiletries are readily available throughout most of Brazil. If you are particular about brands, you may want to pack an appropriate supply of the articles you regularly use. Many American brands, while more expensive, can be bought in Brazil, although Brazilian brands are of high quality and usually less expensive. Advil, though, is impossible to find in Brazil. If you wear contact lenses, you may want to bring enough solution with you to last your entire stay as it is quite a bit more expensive in Brazil. Suntan lotion and/or sunscreen may be quite expensive depending on the brand you choose.
If you are taking any prescription medication you should bring a full supply of what you will need with you on the plane together with all the appropriate prescriptions. Mailing medicines across international borders is extremely complex and often impossible. Prescription medicines should be left in the original containers, be accompanied by a doctor’s prescription, and be packed in your carry-on bags. Please also note that in the event that a prescription must be replaced in country you should have the generic name of your medication on the prescription, in addition to the U.S. ‘brand’ name.
If you are under a doctor’s care for a specific condition, you may want to bring a copy of your medical history with you or sign a release form with your doctor in case your medical history needs to be sent to a doctor in Brazil.
Electrical current in Belo Horizonte and Niterói are the same of that in the US: 110 volts/60 cycles found in the United States. However, in Florianópolis it is 220 volts. Also, it is not unusual that both types of current are found. You should consider buying small appliances (bivolt, if you are going to Florianópolis), like blow dryers, in Brazil. You will need an adapter plug for any US-made electronics.
If you enter Brazil with a laptop computer, you may be asked to sign a paper upon entry and register it. If asked to register, you must show the computer upon leaving the country, even if you are just going to visit a neighboring country. This is important to be aware of as it could be a headache.
You will be able to enter the country with your personal “used” laptop. A customs official may ask you to show your passport and your student visa as proof of your intention to use it for study purposes and to take it with you when you return home. It is possible that customs will require you to leave a monetary deposit to guarantee that the laptop will leave the country with you at the end of your stay.
Please be aware that while many people in the cities carry their laptops around with them, you should be very careful as thieves target laptops especially. If you do not take your laptop, you will need to go to “lan houses” or “cyber-cafés,” because universities don’t always have enough computers available for student use. Take a flash drive with you or save your items and documents to the cloud to avoid lugging your computer to print your papers. Nearly all host families will be equipped with wi-fi to facilitate your computing needs at home.
If you are planning to live with a host family you may wish to present them with a token gift. It is probably best to select something that has significance to you and is packable and light. Consider the following items:
- Books – with lots of photos
- CDs of current American music and your favorite artists
- Small souvenirs of your home university and the U.S.: postcards, buttons, stickers, U.S. stamps, small handicrafts, coffee cups
- Items representative of where you are from (i.e. Vermont maple syrup).
DON’T FORGET PHOTOS! Your local friends will be interested in where you come from: your family, town, friends, and school. Take pictures that help explain parts of your life in the U.S. These are great conversation starters when you don’t have much in common with someone.