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After business hours, Huntsman students get schooled on Rio culture, taxis, beachlife

June 21st, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Satenik Sargsyan

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL—The Brazilian chapter of their summer South America tour left USU business students with the impression that whether a dweller of El Corcovado city or the city of Statue of Freedom or even a small town in Utah, humans are a part of a small world, sharing common traits.

The group of USU students participating in the Huntsman School of Business South America Program are spending several weeks of the summer touring businesses and universities across the Southern Hemisphere.

After daily visits to companies and meeting with Brazilian businessmen, students rushed to explore the sights of Brazil, which included the famous statue of Jesus Christ high above Rio de Janeiro, Sugar Loaf and the inseparable part of Brazilian culture, the beach.

“Coming into Brazil, I expected more crime, based on the stories I had heard,” said Nate Bendall, a senior in finance and economics. “In reality, it’s not any different from other big cities. As long as you don’t act like a potential crime victim, you will be fine.”

The most demanded visit among the students was the trip up the mountain to Christ the Redeemer, overlooking Rio, which included a bundle of impressions ranging from admiration of art to bargaining business deals with taxi drivers.

“It’s a different feel when you are up there,” Bendall said. “It seems like you are on top of the world. The statue is so high up in the mountains that it gives you a thrill.”

Bendall said he didn’t realize how big Rio de Janeiro was before going up the mountain and getting the view of the entire metropolitan area. El Corcovado, the tallest statue of the world, is situated at about 700 meters above sea level, on the peak of the Tijuca Forest National Park.

As opposed to the statue, the world-known symbol welcoming visitors to Brazil, taxi drivers did not waste time to accumulate extra cash.

“The entire experience was amazing, but I felt like there was a huge contrast between the beauty of the mountain and the taxi drivers who ripped us off,” said finance and economics senior Stephanie Nielson. “Even though we negotiated a price with our driver beforehand, we ended up paying a much bigger sum.”

Trevor Boden’s experience with negotiating prices did not bear any consequences. His group paid the negotiated amount for the taxi ride up to the statue. On the other hand, he said the driver was “insane.”

Students compared the cultures of the United States and Brazil on daily basis, when taking a few hours off to enjoy the beach or shop for souvenirs.

“One thing that’s different here is that as soon as you make eye contact, people start talking to you,” Nielson said. “When people get on Aggie Shuttle, they usually sit one seat away from each other so that the other person can have personal space. In Brazil, people get closer.”

Nielson said that differences are expected, but she doesn’t think the discrepancy is huge. Brazilians are friendly and don’t think Americans are rude.

“We may think that not saying ‘thank you’ is rude,” Nielson added. “Whereas Brazilians don’t say thank you, they show it by smiling or slightly touching each other. It’s not rude. It’s just different.”

While the girls were enjoying shopping for Brazilian clothes and souvenirs, the guys enjoyed the open-air workout stations next to the beach.

“After all the delicious food, it was nice to do some push-ups,” Boden said.

Gabriel Sanchez, a senior in operations management, had a different reason to enjoy the beach.

“The best thing about Brazil were pretty women,” he said. “And the beach. Or even better, pretty women on the beach.”


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