Canada (and Vancouver) tops the world for travelling Brazilian students

That’s because Canada is once again Brazilians’ first choice in where to go to study English, followed by the U.S. and the United Kingdom (this is according to the Brazilian Educational and Language Travel Association, after surveying 89 Brazilian travel agencies).

In addition, Brazil’s consul general to Vancouver, Sergio Florencio, confirmed in an interview in his office that Vancouver, among all Canadian cities, is Brazilians’ first choice as a place to study English abroad for both short or long periods.

This is the fifth year in a row that Canada has led the world in this category, as far as Brazilians are concerned. According to UBC political-science PhD candidate and Liu Institute scholar Deborah Barros Leal Farias, the reasons include: relatively easy access to Canadian visas; cheap program prices; and fewer culture clashes when compared to the U.S., among other reasons.

Farias and Florencio, through the consulate, offered free evening classes about Brazil to Vancouverites last September at SFU Harbour Centre.

Florencio said he thought that Vancouver’s relatively amenable climate and natural beauty are the main reasons for our city coming out on top. "Here, the weather is great when comparing to Manitoba, for example."

He added that Vancouver’s multiculturalism allows Brazilians—who are legendarily homesick—to maintain and share their culture around the city, "In Vancouver, Brazilians don’t have to renounce their origin, their culture. That’s why they adapt easily."

The economic benefits might be said to exceed the enrichment of cultural exchange, though. According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, in 2012, through tourism alone, 81,000 Brazilians injected approximately $1,800 each to the Canadian economy. Students contribute much more to Canada’s economy by paying for tuition, rent, and food, among other amenities.

When asked what Brazilians add to Vancouver, the consul general answered right away: "Certainly, our Brazilian happiness."

He said that many Brazilians characterize their country by its music, dance, and other cultural activities that, contrary to what a lot of people think, are not based solely on samba and Carnival. Music is also an entertaining way to forget about your daily problems.

Cristina Lewarne, a Brazilian who owns the Crocodile Baby store in Kitsilano but who hasn’t visited Brazil for three years, said she really misses the Brazilian version of happiness, which she describes thusly: "Even though nothing worked well for them during one day, they will always be waiting for a better tomorrow."

One contrast between Canadians and Brazilians might be related to spontaneity. Eddy Leite, director of recruitment for Brazil at the ELS Language Center in Vancouver, explained by phone: "While Canadians have their next three weeks scheduled, a Brazilian barely knows what they are going to do the next day." He said, by example, that some Canadians get scared if they are invited to do something in 30 minutes.

Florencio pointed out that a lot Brazilians—who often come to Canada looking to improve their English and to have new experiences—already have good professional and academic credentials and sometimes end up living here, starting their own businesses, and becoming very successful.

He also said that the united Brazilian community in Vancouver helps in the adaptatioon process.

According to Leite, who has lived in Canada since 1998, "Many Canadian schools want Brazilians because they usually bring to classes a positive energy."

Farias said she believes that Brazilian arrivals can help Canada to better realize Brazil’s potential and, consequently, improve relations between both countries.

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