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Oh, the places you'll go! (Brazil, India, and South Africa)

human interest




Oh, the places you'll go! (Brazil, India, and South Africa)

The chronicles of Duke students around the globe

Nelia Ekeji


While most students choose to have their study abroad experience in one city/country, juniors Talise Redmond and Ray Pryor IV pursued a more-encompassing experience. Both students participated in the International Honors Program, a multi-country abroad experience through the School for International Training. The theme of their program last semester? Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics, which is fitting, given that they were able to travel to multiple cities across three continents. The curriculum of the program was oriented around "innovated urban studies," and participants had the opportunity to study in São Paulo, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; and Ahmedabad, India. Both Talise and Ray spoke positively of the opportunities afforded to them through a program focused on providing students with a genuine narrative about the world around them.

Talise Redmond

Year: Class of 2019
Major(s), minor(s), and/or certificate(s): Economics major, Sociology minor, and Markets & Management certificate
Highlights of studying abroad: My program was pretty intense. We had class everyday from 9-5, but because of the theme of the program, it meant that we had a lot of site visits and faculty lectures. With these, we got to see a lot of real-life things first hand. So, becoming more globally aware, stepping outside of this bubble where a lot of people don’t think about what’s going on elsewhere, I think that helped me grow as a person. Also, on a lighter note, meeting new friends and going out in different countries and seeing things you wouldn’t usually see on a normal basis.

Difficulties of studying abroad: Something about my program is that it's 24 people traveling together all the time. So if you don’t get along with someone, it’s going to be a long semester. Also, language barriers, that was a little bit of a difficulty. It was mostly being outside of your comfort zone though. Trying to take safety precautions, but also explore.
Biggest cultural differences between the U.S. and where you studied abroad: For the U.S. and Brazil, probably the biggest thing was the language barrier. Everyone spoke Portuguese, and almost no one spoke English. Also, they stay out all night every night in São Paulo specifically. Also, with race, it’s viewed differently there than the US. For example, if you’re darker than a certain skin tone, you’re black; it isn’t like here where we mean African-American, Caribbean, etc. South Africa, let’s there we had two homestays. My first was with an Arabic Muslim family and then with one Black family. There are also a lot of language differences -- I was in Cape Town, and then we stayed in Johannesburg for a week. So the languages were different, and also the food was different in each homestay. And the levels of poverty, the contrasts, were so much more noticeable there than here. And they’re still so heavily segregated after apartheid. India was definitely the biggest culture shock: language and food. Also, I was in Ahmedabad, and just walking outside and seeing so many people riding motorcycles, animals in the streets, all the noise. And race there, well being black at least, was a shock to a lot of people. Whenever I went outside, people were always staring at me. People would ask to take pictures of me and stuff, and the segregation I saw there was based on religion, like Hinduism and Islam.
Best places to visit: In Brazil, we went to this island called Ilhabela, and that was absolutely beautiful. And then there was this place called the Afro-Brazilian Museum in São Paulo that was amazing, the Museu Afro Brasil. In Johannesburg, we went to the Apartheid Museum, and that was really incredible. And in Cape Town, going up and down Long Street...definitely some good memories, and they have a lot of museums there that I’d recommend going to. Also, they've great hiking, such as Table Mountain and Lion's Head. I didn’t really do much in India, but we went to the Gandhi Museum, and I learned a lot that I didn’t know before. Oh! I went to this music festival called Sufi, and that was also incredible.
Anything else you want us to know? Yeah, a lot of things! I guess one thing I was expecting was more black people in Brazil, but São Paulo is a really white city, and I didn’t anticipate that. For Cape Town, I’d want people to know...look past the scenery. So many people tell you how beautiful it is, but looking past that you’ll see the racism and disparities and inequality, a lot of it. But still go! Like anywhere else you go abroad, talk to the people who live there, so that you don’t just have an American view the whole time you’re there. In general, I know a lot of people are hesitant to study abroad, but I would definitely, definitely, definitely recommend it. You don’t have to plan your entire life around your major: my program had nothing to do with my major. I didn’t get any credit, but I’m still glad that I went. Unless you have to, focus less on major requirements and more on programs that you really like.

Ray Pryor IV

Year: Class of 2019
Major(s), minor(s), and/or certificate(s): Public Policy major, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate
Highlights of studying abroad: One of my favorite highlights from studying abroad was meeting people all across the world in the African diaspora and seeing just how similar yet very unique we all are in language, culture, and identity.
Difficulties of studying abroad: One of the difficulties from studying abroad was trying to disconnect from the assumptions about my American identity when trying to engage with and participate in the local community, culture, and lifestyle. Particularly in India, attracting a lot of attention in public because of my racial identity was at times stressful and uncomfortable.
Biggest cultural differences between the U.S. and where you studied abroad: Most of the places I spent time in have much friendlier, warmer cultures than the U.S. when it comes to engaging with strangers and guests. Ideas of privacy and personal space are not as strong as they are in the U.S.