The Wonders and Challenges of Brazilian Studies
When you study something as specific as Brazilian Studies, you often get a lot of questions akin to “What are you going to use your degree for?” and “Is the scope of jobs potentially available to you limited by completing such a target-specific degree?”.
These are very good questions, because in the current economic climate of the world, you have think about what job opportunities and positions that you are qualified for, based on both prior job experience and, more importantly, your chosen field and degree. Brazilian Studies is a humanity discipline, which can be a challenging field as it is not common to see listings specifically for people that are experts in things like Brazil or Japan. For some people, that can be very scary. If you study law, medicine or psychology, you and everyone else already know and understand the general direction that you are going in. For people like me, who have chosen a degree based on the language, culture, history and society of a specific area, you have two choices: either you embrace the uncertainty and feel the freedom that comes with being able to mold your degree in the direction that you want, or you feel confined by the specifics of it all.
To me, my BA in Brazilian Studies gives me the opportunity to do a lot of things during my 3 ½ years as an undergraduate student. I get to speak in Portuguese and English in addition to Danish every day. I get to immerse myself in an incredible culture that is so very different from my own. I get to discuss different viewpoints on many different topics that characterize and shape our world today, not only from a Brazilian perspective, but also from a general Latin American and Northern European point of view. To me, it is amazing that we can debate these topics without there necessarily being a “right” or “wrong”.
Some people think that having visited Brazil or loving the Portuguese language is enough to get you through. It is not. Studying a socio-geographic area and educating yourself to become an expert on that is very different from having lived there for a year or having traveled around a bit, then deciding that you love that place. That is not to say that your passion cannot stem from such an experience, but you need to make it your priority. This has to be what you want to spend the next 3 ½ years of your life on, and you have to dive in head first. It can be rough, but it can also be incredible. During your BA you get to travel to Portugal and attend amazing lectures with professors and experts in all aspects of Brazil. You get to learn or improve upon your existing Portuguese, one of the world’s most spoken languages. You get to go to Brazil for a full semester, truly immersing yourself in the country that you have given your heart and your time to; and you even get to choose which region you want to live and study in! Truly, there are endless possibilities.
Regardless of where you end up, and what you end up doing, you will have valuable knowledge and experiences from your time as a student of Brazilian Studies. Some people think that degrees such as ours are easy to come by. They are wrong. It is challenging, it is difficult, and it takes hard work. But it is also an amazing experience. I think that if you can find the drive within yourself to persevere, you will find that Brazilian Studies is full of wonder and opportunities to shape your future career prospects.
Written by Isabella Vestergaard Guldager