Before You Leave
If you don’t already have one, get a passport. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire while you are overseas studying. As a precaution, it should be valid for at least six months after your travel. You should seriously consider scanning a copy of your passport and emailing it to yourself as well as someone who will NOT be traveling with you. In addition, holders of U.S. passports and holders of many non-Brazilian passports will need to obtain a visa through the Brazilian consulate with jurisdiction over the student’s place of legal residence. Because different U.S. consulates have different visa application procedures, it is the student’s responsibility to learn what they need to do. Visa issuance can take four-six weeks and so advance planning is essential. Most Brazilian visas require that the user enter the country within ninety (90) days of visa issuance. If you have questions about the proper visa for which to apply, please contact Ingrid S. Caro-Cobb.
Students are responsible for all travel arrangements. You should buy your plane ticket as early as possible to ensure the best price. We recommend researching a few travel search engines to find the best price.
What To Pack
Power and Computers
Brazil is one of a few countries that uses both 120 and 240 volts for everyday appliances. Expect the voltage to change back and forth, sometimes even in the same apartment. Electric outlets usually accept both flat (North American), and round (European) plugs. Otherwise adapters from flat blades to round pins are easy to find in any supermarket or hardware store. Carefully consider your needs for appliances when you travel to South America, especially the high wattage ones. Make sure that the device can run at the higher voltages. Shavers and any small appliances may need a voltage converter (sometimes called a transformer) depending on the voltage, in addition to a plug adapter.
These are readily available as well. Hair dryers are a special case, as their power requirements are enormous. If you want to be a good citizen, consider leaving all hair appliances at home. Also, there is the possibility that they may get fried if you are not careful. If you can't leave them behind, make sure you buy a heavy-duty converter that will handle as much as 2000 watts (2 kilowatts).
Some outlets are too narrow for the German "Schuko" plugs. The best makeshift solution is to buy a cheap T-connection and just force your "Schuko" in, -the T will break, but it will work. Very few outlets have a grounding point, and some might not accept newer North American polarized plugs, where one pin is slightly larger. Again, use the cheap T. It is advisable to determine which countries you'll be traveling in and then choose the plug adapters you'll need for those specific countries.
It is advisable to determine which countries you'll be traveling in and then choose the plug adapters you'll need for those specific countries.
Although it is not necessary to bring a computer for your classes, most students do. Do not have your computer shipped to you. It will be seized by customs, and then sent back after much delay and expense. Most modern laptops will automatically sense voltage changes and adapt; you may only need a plug adapter--check your owner's manual or the back of your computer or charger. Otherwise, you will need to bring an adapter or converter, if necessary. That is applicable to all other electronic devices that you transport with you as well (cell phones and camera chargers, etc.)
Please also note that Tulane does not offer any printing for study abroad program participants.Should you decide you need to print your outlines, notes, etc. you will have use of the facilities at the Federal University, at a cost, or can find printing facilities at local copy shops, etc.. Photocopying and printing tend to be expensive in Brazil and students should keep this in mind at all times.
If you want to bring a mobile phone, make sure it is equipped to operate on South American frequencies. This is not recommended, as is it the most expensive way to communicate with the States. Ask your US phone provider what the international charges are, and carefully consider whether using your US phone in Rio de Janeiro is an appropriate expense.
You may also consider using your phone from the States and purchasing a SIM card in Rio to insert in your phone. The main mobile phone networks in Brazil, all with either monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go systems, are: Vivo, Tim, Claro and,Oi.
Rio de Janeiro is also known as "the marvelous city", in part because of its agreeable climate. Even in the Fall and Winter (which last from March to September) weather rarely impedes the visitors ability to appreciate the world-famous beaches and the tops of scenic outlooks such as Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar.
June and July are among the coldest months, but the lowest temperatures rarely go under the 70°F. Wind and dampness may make you feel a bit colder, and most buildings do not have heating systems. In the winter, however, it may get hot for as long as one or two weeks, with the temperature rising up to almost 90°F. Occasional cold fronts from the south can also bring rains and wind during this period. So, the most important things to bring are: (1) a good pair of walking shoes and also a pair of flip-flops, (2) a sweater or sweatshirt, (3) an umbrella, and (4) a lightweight jacket (and it won't hurt if it's waterproof).
All your clothes should be breathable. On hot days, they will keep you cool!
Additionally, students should bring business casual attire for visits to law firms and other such occasions. Our academic partner in Brazil has a dress code for all persons entering the classroom building. Shorts and tank tops are not permitted, nor are flip flops and open-toed sandals. Persons who do not observe the dress code will be turned away at the entrance and not permitted to enter the building. Students should therefore plan their dress accordingly.
You are advised not to bring travelers checks. Your ATM card should work in many ATMs in the city, and Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere. Please be advised that, as a security measure, you should call your credit card provider or ATM issuer to inform them of your summer itinerary, otherwise they may block your card.
Brazil's unit of currency is the Real (pronounced "hey-all"), plural Reais (pronounced "hey-ice", BRL or R$). One real is divided into 100 centavos. As an example of how prices are written, R$2,50 means two reais and fifty centavos. US Dollars can be exchanged in major airports and luxury hotels, exchange bureaus and major branches of the Banco do Brasil (no other banks), where you need your passport and your immigration form to do so.
If possible, try to travel with 90 reais ‘emergency’ cash as a back up to pay for trains fares, to get to the city, food in the airport, etc. Upon arrival, the international airport has cash changing facilities and ATMs that accept foreign ATM cards.
Portuguese language skills are not required for program participation (since courses will be taught in English and guest lectures by Brazilians will be translated into English when necessary). However, in order to enhance the cultural immersion experience, students are encouraged to enroll in any optional Portuguese language classes available through the program, and to take advantage of opportunities in their home institution or elsewhere to acquire basic Portuguese language skills before arriving in Brazil.
Things You Might Not Expect
Rio de Janeiro has in recent years received negative publicity for its high levels of urban violence. In the past decade, however, this image has begun to change dramatically with a vigorous campaign of urban “pacification” by the municipal government. The good news is that levels of violent crime are down within the city center, although some report increased levels of petty theft. In sum, while Rio may not be safe as Copenhagen, most areas of interest to visitors are located either on the South Side, or the historical strip from Flamengo to Downtown which tend to be safer areas. Other areas that are less traveled by tourists may not be as suitable. As in any other big city, always be aware of your surroundings and walk in groups in well-lit areas.
Tips are only expected in restaurants, are normally around 10% and typically are included in the bill (that is, the tip is not optional).
Many museums and some services (hair salons, theatres, fast food eateries, etc.) offer a small discount with a valid student ID. Please note that many such discounts also require the student to be under a certain age (usually 26). Sometimes these offers are available to Brazilian students only.
English is not widely spoken except in some touristy areas. Don't expect bus or taxi drivers to understand English, so it may be a good idea to write down the address you are heading to before getting a cab and to learn some common Portuguese phrases.
Differences Between Rio and a U.S. City
Most ATMs are closed between 10pm and 6am, and the ones open will probably only give you R$ 100.
Music plays an important part in the Brazilian identity and it is common to see people dancing and singing in the street.
Prices at street and beach vendors are always negotiable!
Brazilians, and particularly the population of Rio (“Cariocas”), tend to be quite friendly. Physical touching – even a hug or a light kiss to the cheek is not uncommon, depending on the context, even among people who have just met. Use your judgment, but understand that such physical contact may be considered culturally appropriate and not offensive.
Recently the last wagon of each subway has been marked women-only with a pink window sticker, in order to avoid potential harassment in crowded trains (women only policy for the subway is valid only in the rush hour). Subway police will ask men during these times not to board the women-only cars.
Once You Arrive
Students who arrive at the international airport (known alternately as Tom Jobim International Airport or Galeão – the airport code is GIG) on Saturday, June 18 or Saturday, July 2, between the hours of 6 am -12 pm (the times during which most international flights arrive) will be met by a program representative and taken together to the Edifício Jucati. (If the student’s flight is scheduled to arrive during, but delayed beyond that time, someone will still meet the student.)
For those arriving at other times, transport information is as follows:
From the International Airport to the City Center:
This international airport is 13 miles away from the city centre. There are buses running to and from the airport to the city roughly every 30 minutes from 5.30am to 10pm and cost between R$ 5 and R$8 for a single journey. The trips can take from 30 minutes (Via Linha Amarela bus) to 65 minutes (Via Orla da Zona Zona bus).
Taxis to the city center start at R$ 35 and can go up by R$ 10 or more if you get stuck in a traffic jam
From the domestic airport to the city center:
Some flights connecting in São Paulo or elsewhere will leave passengers in the domestic airport, Santos Dumont (airport code SDU). If your flight arrives at Santos Dumont, a cab is the best way to get to your residence and will cost about R$20.
Transportation in the City:
Buses are the most convenient way to get around in the city. Night buses are more scarce, as most lines usually stop at a certain point. Buses start at R$2.20 or R$ 2.35; buses with air conditioning charge higher fares. The fare is paid in cash to a controller or the driver inside the bus (try to have change or small bills).
As a general rule, buses stop only when you hail them, by extending your arm. If you don't hail and there are no passengers waiting to get off, the bus simply won't stop. The same can be said if you are on the bus wanting to get off at a particular stop. You should know the name of the place or area that you are going, or inquire to the employee operating the roulette, so you can signal to the driver that you want to get off, or he may not stop! There are no schedules, but with buses run rather frequently, usually less than 15 minutes between buses normally.
The most popular lines for tourists are 583 and 584 (from Copacabana and Ipanema to Corcovado railway station). Buses 511 and 512 are also popular as they take you to Urca, the station to take the cable car up the Sugar Loaf mountain.
The Metrô Rio - subway system is very useful for travel from Ipanema through Copacabana to Downtown and beyond, although it closes at midnight. There are two main lines: Line 1 (Orange) has service to Ipanema (General Osôrio), the Saara district, and much of Downtown, as well as Tijuca. Line 2 (Green) stops at the zoo, Maracanã stadium, and Rio State University. A one-way subway-only (unitaria) ticket is R$2.80.
A cab is also a very good way to move around Rio, especially because they are not too expensive (a journey from Zona Sul to the Centro, about a 25 minute ride, will cost around R$20). Major taxi companies include Central de Taxi, Copataxi, and Aerocoop.
Central de Táxi - Tel.: 55 21 2593-2598
COPATÁXI - Tel.: 55 21 3899-4343
AEROCOOP - Tel.: 55 21 2560-5428
Important Phone Numbers
Police (emergency): 190
Tourist Police 24-hr. contact line (non emergency): 021/3399-7170
Fire and Ambulance: 193
Hospitals (Emergency Room): Miguel Couto- Leblon (Tel. 021/2274-6050); Rocha Maia- Botafogo (Tel. 021/2295-2121)
Tourist information and assistance:
RIOTUR - City of Rio de Janeiro Tourism Authority: +55 (21) 2271-7004
TurisRio - State of Rio de Janeiro Tourist Authority: +55 (21) 2333-1040
Brazil Travel Information
With upwards of 10 million inhabitants, the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area is Brazil's main tourist destination, receiving more than one million foreign tourists and Brazilians every year. The marvelous city blends mountains with sea and has one of most varied geographies on the planet. This diversity attracts a variety of people, inspiring painters, poets and unimaginable sensations when visited or revisited, because those who discover it normally fall in love. You can go from the largest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca Forest, to colonial architectural monuments, a beautiful urban lagoon encircled by running and bike paths and famous beaches, all in the same city. Aside from the lush landscape, Rio is the cultural capital of the country with performances of all types, many free, every day of the year.