Explore The Best of Brazil

Brazil is not only one of the most colorful, happy, and spirited countries in the planet, it is also the place I am blessed to call my home (just as much as the United States). As a native Brazilian who left Brazil shortly after graduating from high school, and has never forgotten about the amazing food, the warm people, the wonderful music, and the beautiful landscape that this country has to offer, I am enthusiastic to share with you some tips to help you make the most out of your experience in Brazil.

First and foremost, if you are going to Brazil during intersession, you are in it for a trip of a lifetime! January is possibly THE BEST time to be in Brazil. It is summer time, most people are on vacation, many are relaxing at the beach, and sipping on a ‘caipirinha’ while listening to the numerous street players who walk around the beach playing samba from right to left. In fact, if you are going to Brazil this coming intersession I would GREATLY suggest that you arrive in Brazil before New Year’s Eve, and that you spend the last day of 2014 in Copacabana Beach with thousands (if not millions) of people who will be there, eager to celebrate.

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest and most popular events, along with Carnival, in Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, the event gets even better. Here you will find millions of people (last year there were 2 million people at the beach on New Year’s Eve) wearing white clothes for good luck and for world peace in the coming year. Some in the crowd may wear a splash of color – red is for romance, yellow for success, green for health, etc. Whether you are wearing white or not, whether you believe in the color superstitions that Brazilian people believe in or not, you are in it for a celebration you will never forget. Fireworks at the beach, champagne, live music, ocean breeze, good energy from the crowd… it is bound to be a party you will remember for years to come.

New Year's Eve in Brazil - the beach was just starting to fill up

New Year’s Eve in Brazil – the beach was just starting to fill up.

So, what do you do when you wake up in Rio the next day? Well… here are some important things you will NOT want to miss:

  1. Beaches: Brazilians LOVE to hang out at the beach! In fact, most Brazilians like to go to the beach in the early morning and stay until the sun sets. You can buy food, drinks, accessories, and even clothes at the beach in Brazil. It is also a great place for people watching! Here, people gather to play beach volleyball, footvolley, surf, play music, dance… in Brazil, everything happens at the beach. This is where you are going to want to go while in Rio:
Copacabana Beach in Rio

Copacabana Beach in Rio, picture by Sure Mithas Travel

  1. Ipanema Beach: Where most locals hangout
  2. Copacabana Beach: More crowded and touristy but a lot of fun
  3. Barra da Tijuca: This is where you go if you want to surf (or watch people surfing 😉 )
  4. Buzios: Elected one of the 10 most beautiful areas in the world, Buzios is just about 2 hours from Rio by bus/car. Take a weekend to go there!

2. Sightseeing: even though these are the most “touristy” places in Rio, they are still well worth exploring.

Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

  1. Cristo (aka Corcovado): voted one of the seven wonders of the world, this site offers beautiful views of the city. Take the train to go up there.
  2. Sugar Loaf: also wonderful view of the city. Perfect place to take pictures.
  3. Arpoador: This is where you want to be for the sunset.
  4. Santa Teresa: Charming old neighborhood in Rio. Go to small bars or restaurants here and walk around the beautiful streets.

3. Nightlife: Brazilians really know how to party! If you are just looking for a bar to have a “gelada” (ice cold beer) you are going to want to go out at 8 pm, if you are looking to have dinner, probably 9 pm… now if you want to go to a nightclub, don’t arrive before 1 am.

  1. Bars at Lapa – A former run-down collection of 19th century mansions has now been rehabilitated. Here you will find many restaurants,  and cute bars with live music. Great place to go eat, dance and have a blast!
  2. Samba Practices happen from November until carnival (Feb or March) and they are extremely fun to watch!  I recommend watching the schools Beija Flor or Mangueira. Here you will find a schedule of their rehearsals.
  3. Nightclubs: parties start at 1 am and go until sunrise. There are plenty of nightlclubs to explore in Rio! Click here to know where to go.

4. The food!! Don’t come back to the States without trying:

The snack I miss the most!! Pão de queijo. Receipe here.

The snack I miss the most!! Pão de queijo. Recipe here.

  1. Açaí
  2. Pão de queijo
  3. Coxinha
  4. Pastel
  5. Rodízio de pizza
  6. Churrasco
  7. Feijoada
  8. Fresh juices

To finish off, let me just warn you that we Brazilians are extremely warm. We do not know what “personal space” is, we touch people when we are chatting with them, we hug, we greet people with multiple kisses… so be ready to hug and kiss back! Also, do not try speaking Spanish to Brazilians… they are unbelievably proud of their Portuguese!

I hope you have a wonderful time in Brazil! Please let me know what you enjoyed the most about my country by posting a comment below.

Boa viagem!!

~ Renata Berto, International Programs Associate

Financing Your Study Abroad

Internationalization in one way or another has been a part of President Mary Lyon’s strategic directions for quite some time. USD has been involved in international instruction, research, and service throughout the world for many years, and we’re expanding our activities with an increased emphasis on the importance of global awareness for the entire campus community. Specifically, at the School of Business, our mission is “to develop socially responsible business leaders – socially, environmentally and professionally – with a global mindset through academically rigorous, relevant and values-based education and research”. One of the ways the Ahlers Center helps fulfill the SBA’s mission is through our short-term, faculty-led international programs. In order to “put our money where our mouth is”, we offer discounted tuition for most of our short-term, faculty-led programs. Students are often surprised to see how affordable study abroad can be when compared to taking classes on-campus.  Here we will offer money saving strategies, while showing you comparisons of several programs to help you realize that studying abroad can be financially feasible!

  • Since we travel to a great variety of locations, you might imagine that expenses for things like food and local transportation once you are in a city can vary greatly. For example, our practicum in Santo Domingo is a lot less expensive than the one in Rio de Janeiro. We are always happy to meet with you to help you figure out the cheapest option and offer an estimate of expenses.
  • Airfare can be tricky as prices are typically very volatile. Be sure to shop around and be willing to fly from airports other than SAN, like LAX and TIJ. Airlines launch sales on Tuesdays, so you’ll typically find lower fares then. You may want to arrive to the destination early or fly out later to save money too! Don’t have the funds to pay for your flight ticket outright? STA travel has an airfare deposit program. With $300 you can lock in the price of your ticket and then pay the remaining balance up until seven days before departure.
  • As a courtesy to program participants, the Ahlers Center organizes hotel accommodations. However, it is not necessary to stay at the group hotel. When you are accepted to a program, we will give you the estimated price of the group hotel. If it is too expensive for your budget, you may choose to stay at another hotel, or rent an apartment. If you choose to stay elsewhere, it is recommended to stay near the group hotel as activities typically begin and end there.
  • In addition to reduced tuition, the Ahlers Center offers scholarships for most of our programs. When you fill out an application to study abroad, you will have the option to submit a scholarship application. Many of our students apply for scholarships, so be sure to put in effort and be creative with your submission to make it stand out!
  • USD’s Office of Financial Aid offers additional aid in the form of loans for summer and intersession programs. Most students, except those traveling on MSGL and MSEL programs, should submit a separate application for Intersession and Summer programs through the office of Financial Aid. Interession aid applications are available on October 1st with a November 1st due date, and summer aid applications are available on February 1st with a March 14th due date.
  • We charge a fee for each of our programs, which varies from $250-$550. However, this program fee goes to offset direct benefits to students so you’ll recoup it while abroad. The program fee goes towards things like transportation to company visits, city tour(s), classroom space, group dinners, international insurance, and more!

In order to illustrate the savings that can come from reduced tuition and scholarships the Ahlers Center offers, please take a look at some examples of summer 2014 and intersession 2015 programs. Of course, the more units you take abroad, the more savings you will realize!

Here is an example of a student spending the entire intersession in Buenos Aires, taking 5 units. If we don’t include daily living expenses like meals and taxi fare, this student only needs to pay an additional $320 to study abroad when compared to taking classes on campus!

Study Abroad

One of our most affordable programs is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Here the student could SAVE $675 by going abroad!

Study Abroad

Saving $90 to go to Spain and Morocco for two weeks while earning 6 units? We’ll take it!

Study Abroad

Of course, what these charts don’t quantify is the life-transforming experiences you will have when studying abroad…which is oftentimes PRICELESS! Let us know how we can help you make your dreams of studying abroad a reality. Share your questions, feedback and budget tips below.


Erin’s Travel Tips for Shanghai



Shanghai is a financial hub in Asia and widely considered to be China’s most European city, with its distinctive, futuristic architecture, historical French Concession neighborhood, and myriad of high-end fashion houses with elaborate, glittering window displays beckoning well-heeled tourists and locals alike.

If you plan on travelling to China, make sure to obtain a tourist visa, as this is required for stays that extend past 48 hours.

Shanghai holds an important place in the international financial market, and is home to the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) in the Pudong District.  Rising to a height of 492 meters, the SWFC is the world’s tallest mixed-use urban development center.

View from the observation deck on the 97th floor of the SWFC

View from the observation deck on the 97th floor of the SWFC

 Business Etiquette

1)   When meeting business partners, acknowledge seniority for introductions, seating arrangements and general interactions.

2)   When exchanging business cards, present your card so that it is facing your recipient.  When accepting a business card, take the card with both hands and take a few moments to read the card carefully.  Do not fold or write on business cards.

3)   Respect the concept of “saving face” – avoid insulting, criticizing, or drawing negative attention to someone in front of others

Don’t Miss:

1)   The Bund: stroll along the river and enjoy the sight of barge “rush hour”.  Across the river, gaze at the massive high-rises in the Pudong District.  Right off The Bund on East Nanjing Road, you’ll find the Fairmont Peace Hotel.  This is a historic landmark that was constructed between 1926 and 1929, and now contains an updated art-deco lobby, jazz club, upscale café and tea room.

View of along the Bund, looking towards the Pudong District across the river.

View across the Bund, looking towards the Pudong District across the river.

2)   Old Town: to feel as if you have transported back in time, visit Shanghai’s Old Town (known as Nánshi) where you’ll find traditional architecture, a bazaar with numerous shopping stalls and the Yù Yuán Gardens, which was the former residence of Ming-dynasty officials and is now available to tour.

3)   French Concession: two distinct shopping areas are contained within the Shanghainese neighborhood known as the French Concession – Xintiandi and Tianzifang.  Xintiandi houses dozens of upscale shops and boutiques, restaurants and nightspots, and is partitioned into two sections.  The south block holds an indoor mall with fine-dining and shopping options, while the north block has more of an outdoor market feel, with boutiques and numerous restaurants offering a wide assortment of cuisines.

Another shopping district, Tianzifang, has less of a 5th Avenue in NYC feel and more of an artsy, old-Shanghai feel.  There are dozens of trendy boutiques, tourist shops, cafes and local fashion houses to explore along the traditional alleyways.  I recommend stopping here to find your souvenirs and fun gifts for friends and family at home.

4)   Temples: two interesting temples to visit are the Jing’an Temple and the Jade Buddha Temple, both located in the Jing’an district.  The Jade Buddha Temple is an active place of worship for Buddhists, and has a number of gold, jade and marble Buddha statues, with colorful flags, lanterns and candles adorning them.

Inside the Jade Buddha Temple

Inside the Jade Buddha Temple

Foods to Try:

1)   Noodles: with a multitude of small noodle shops throughout the city, you are sure to find something to appeal to your palate.  I found the udon at Kung Fu Noodles to be the perfect lunch on a cold winter day!

Udon noodles from Kung Fu Noodles, located in the French Concession

Udon noodles from Kung Fu Noodles, located in the French Concession

2) Dumplings: they come filled with many different ingeredients, but a Shanghainese specialty is the “little steamer buns” and the “scallion -and sesame-seed-coated dumplings”.

3) Hotpot:  commonly served in the winter, hotpot offers sizzling broth to dip vegetables and meat into, finishing them with a variety of sauces.

Shanghainese Cuisine: for Westerners unaccustomed to generous amounts of oils and spices in their food, it is advised to ask for an English menu and sample the various dishes in small quantities, to learn which dishes appeal most to your taste buds and dietary preferences

Shanghainese Cuisine: for Westerners unaccustomed to generous amounts of oils and spices in their food, it is advised to ask for an English menu and sample the various dishes in small quantities, to learn which dishes appeal most to your taste buds and dietary preferences

What about you? What are your go to food items when traveling through China? Share your tips below.

~Erin Kellaway, External Programs Manager

Exploring International Accounting Issues Firsthand in London, Paris & Rome

Written by Masters in Accounting (MACC) Student, Cameron Coutermarsh

The Opportunity to Study Abroad

Prior to learning about the MACC London, Paris, and Rome opportunity, I had never considered studying abroad given my time and financial constraints. Between the curriculum of the accounting major and working part time, I assumed I didn’t have the time to fit a semester abroad into my four years at USD but the MACC study abroad program made it possible. As an accounting student with an internship scheduled for the summer of 2014, the London, Paris and Rome abroad opportunity was structured to fit the general schedule of an accounting student wrapping up their spring semester in either an undergraduate or graduate accounting program. The one week course paired with the two weeks abroad fit perfectly between the end of the semester and the beginning of the summer internships with many of the Big Four accounting firms. Also, having the majority of the classwork finished before embarking on the trip made the transition to a foreign environment much easier and more enjoyable.

Dr. Pattison and Dr. Judd with Masters of Accounting Students in London Eye

Dr. Pattison and Dr. Judd with Masters of Accounting Students in London Eye

Long-Term Benefits

The abroad experience helped me with my future career in accounting, beyond just the academic level. On this trip, the students were exposed to the cultural differences between the Big Four accounting firms many of us had built strong relationships with in the previous year. It was shocking to see how many differences existed between the same company in two very different locations and likewise the similarities that were not affected by the vast distance. Many of the companies we visited had United States expatriates as speakers who were able to give the group an insightful view on opportunities for working abroad in the new future. Many students in the group, myself included, found themselves vastly more interested in taking on an expatriate assignment for a brief (or extended, for some) period of time. Even if an expatriate opportunity does not arise, I have found myself inspired to travel again and continue to explore new places and people.

Accounting students visit Bloomberg in London.

Accounting students visit Bloomberg in London.

Beyond the idea of professional development, I managed to enhance my worldview. Although the term ‘worldview’ is casually tossed around when the concept of traveling abroad is in question, one cannot truly understand its meaning until they experience it themselves. Before traveling abroad, my perspective on Londoners, Parisians, and Italians were heavily influenced by hearsay and biases. This isn’t to say that I was intolerant of other cultures, but rather that I never actually understood them and their ways of life. Even though our group only spent a short few days in each city, I felt that the nonstop immersion in each culture allowed us to grasp many of the cultural differences. Since a vast majority of the academic coursework took place before traveling abroad, we had more opportunities to learn about the culture of each city we visited.

Exploring art at the museum of Louvre, in Paris.

Enhancing my “worldview” at the museum of Louvre, in Paris.

How USD made this trip possible

This specific abroad program exemplifies USD’s reputation for study abroad programs. In addition to the vast list of study abroad opportunities, the MACC London, Paris and Rome program is precisely built to fit the needs and concerns of students. The academic portion of the program is flexible and the units earned can be applied to students in either the undergraduate or graduate level. The traveling portion is carefully and expertly planned to give students a healthy combination of diverse company visits and ample free time to explore the cities. Furthermore, the professors teaching the class do a fantastic job of preparing students for the abroad portion by explaining cultural differences we may be exposed to while traveling overseas as well as covering relevant topics in the coursework. The advice from professors made the transition to foreign countries simple and allowed us to not become ‘ugly Americans’ while traveling. The advice ranged from learning restaurant Italian to respectfully staying silent on London’s underground trains (Londoners tend to frown on loud noises during their commutes).

As I mentioned before, the abroad portion of the program gave students plenty of free time to explore each city but there were always optional events coordinated to help us on our journeys. Between bus tours in London and Rome and an evening bike tour/river cruise in Paris, each city was thoroughly covered. However, none of these events were required, allowing students to explore at their own pace which gave my roommate and myself the opportunity to walk over ten miles across Rome. Although my feet were burning by the end of the day, my roommate and I were able to fully immerse ourselves in the culture of the atmosphere and the people around us.

Enhancing my "worldwide" view at the Coliseum

Exploring the Coliseum in Rome with my roomate.

~Cameron Coutermarsh, MACC student

What about you? Have you spent some time studying abroad? Share your experiences with us below!


Road Less Traveled in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is complete eye candy.  Everywhere you turn there are vibrant colors, exotic smells and a hum of activity.  Besides being a shopping mecca and home to the world’s most inexpensive Michelin starred restaurant (Tim Ho Wan), Hong Kong also boasts a lively night life, exceptionally efficient public transportation system, and plenty of stunning parks to keep even the greenest of thumbs well entertained.

Personally, I am a gardenoholic.  In a city of 7.2 million people, nearly all of which are living vertically in high rises, the quite repose and sound of running water emanating from many of Hong Kong’s public parks offers a reticent opportunity to reflect and observe.  Most often I’m reflecting on what local taste treat sensation I will dine on next, but who’s counting?…

Hands down my two favorite green spaces in Hong Kong are Kowloon Walled City Park and the Nan Lian Gardens at Chi Lin Nunnery.  Both are free to enter and if you make a point to visit Kowloon Walled City Park early enough, you will catch groups of locals practicing Tai Chi by the waterfalls.  Close to the Chinese New Year celebrations, flag throwing groups also use Kowloon Walled City Park as their rehearsal grounds for the festive parades in which they perform.  Nan Lian Gardens houses a pagoda, waterfalls, koi pond, and more manicured trees than a Dr. Seuss book.  It also pipes in soft music throughout the 3.5 hectares to optimize your relaxation and is home to a vegetarian restaurant with unique dishes focusing on local ingredients.

Kowloon Walled City Park in Hong Kong

Kowloon Walled City Park in Hong Kong

Visitors to Hong Kong often like to spend some time exploring at least one of the 234 outlying islands which also constitute part of special administrative region of Hong Kong.  Generally, western tourists flock to Lantau Island to see the giant seated Buddha and catch the marvelous views from the cable car ride up to the top of the mountain.  But if I have free time to go island hopping, my go to is Cheung Chau.  Just an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong island, Cheung Chau is where the locals go for some of the best seafood around and fantastic people watching.  The whole island can be explored on foot but its also fun to rent bicycles to venture out past the main drag.  Hiking trails on the island also offer spectacular seaside views without having to climb too much elevation.


Looking to take some pretty spectacular photos in Hong Kong?  You can’t beat the view from Victoria Peak or the colors offered at the Flower Market.  The Yuen Po Street Bird Market is also pretty unique where you can see sacks of live grasshoppers on sale alongside ornate birdcages of all makes and models.  The added bonus of being serenaded by hundreds of birds while floating through this market make it a place I return to on each visit to Hong Kong.  Of course it also helps that the Bird Market is literally situated on top of the Flower Market so its easy to visit both on the same day.

The Flower Market in Hong Kong

The Flower Market in Hong Kong

One of my favorite past times in Hong Kong is heading to the horse track.  Situated in central Hong Kong Island, the race track at Happy Valley turns into Hong Kong’s largest bar every Wednesday evening during the winter months.  Overpriced beer and chain smokers aside, the races at Happy Valley are truly stunning as the Hong Kong city skyline serves as the backdrop for the race track and the convivial atmosphere of locals and expats cheering together rarely disappoints.

Happy Valley Races

Happy Valley Races

Those participating in our MSRE or GSBA courses in Hong Kong will be happy to know that visits to the Nan Lian Gardens and Victoria Peak are part of the city tour itinerary which is included in your program fee.  Additionally, I coordinate a night at the races for each student group where dinner at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and entrance into the Happy Valley Racetrack are both part of the fun included in your program fee.

USD business students at Victoria Peak

USD business students at Victoria Peak

Have you been to Hong Kong? Share your tips below!

~ Allison Howitt, Academic Programs Manager