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The Experience

Learn a new language in one of the world’s most colorful cultures.

Brazil is about football (soccer), music (like samba, funk, and favela beats), tempting dishes (rice and beans with everything), fresh fruit (mango, banana, papaya … take your pick!), and a happy, laid-back lifestyle. As a high school student, it’s also about daily classes and after-school interaction. Walk in the shoes of a local teen, and see your Portuguese language proficiency grow by leaps and bounds.

For your first three weeks in Brazil, you’ll take an intensive Portuguese language course to get you speaking basic Portuguese and ready for daily high school classes. Then, five days a week you’ll take classes — taught solely in Portuguese — at a private high school.

Along with Portuguese literature, science, math, history, art, and philosophy, you’ll also spend two hours per week in a Portuguese language “booster” course.

students walking down boardwalk in São Luís
Soak up the culture in São Luís.
Students cheering on a game
Rooting for the home teams is a national pastime!


Upon arriving in Brazil with your fellow participants, you will be met by CIEE staff in São Luís, where you will begin your three-day orientation. During orientation, you will participate in different workshops focusing on a variety of themes — culture, language, academics, social norms, and current events — all designed to best prepare you for your experience in Brazil. Additionally, you’ll see some of the best that the amazing city of São Luís has to offer!

Activities include a tour of the historical city center, an afternoon at the beach, and experiencing some of the most incredible Brazilian dishes, through organized lunches and dinners!

The Destination

From the wilds of the Amazon rain forest in the north to world-famous waterfalls in the south, Brazil covers more terrain than any other country in Latin America.

The world’s fifth-largest country also includes lively multicultural cities like Brasília, acclaimed for its modern architecture; Rio de Janeiro, famous for its beaches and Carnaval culture; and São Paulo, a melting pot with Italian, Korean, Japanese, German, Russian, Caribbean, Greek, and Arab influences.

Share petiscos and conversation with classmates in your favorite local hangout. Discover a hidden talent for the Brazilian martial art of capoeira during a school field trip. Help your host family cook a traditional Brazilian dinner of feijoada, churrasco, and brigadeiro.

On Brazil’s culturally rich island of São Luís, you’ll discover a vibrant region that offers the perfect setting to develop your Portuguese language skills. You’ll deepen your understanding of the traditions and practices that characterize another culture, and gain important life skills needed to be successful in college and beyond.

Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio
The world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue towers over Rio.
Traditional dancers
One-of-a-kind music, dance and costumes keep the Carnivale spirit alive year-round.
Beach at sunset
São Luís spans city beaches and cobblestone streets.

The Take-Aways

Language Proficiency

You’ll begin your study abroad with 45 hours of intensive Portuguese language classes over three weeks, before beginning your regular high school classes. During your first semester, you’ll also take two hours of Portuguese language “booster” classes to keep you progressing.

Based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, CIEE High School Abroad participants improve, on average, two language levels during the course of the program.

The CIEE High School Abroad program provides students more language contact hours in just a few weeks than the average U.S. high school student receives through high school language classes in an entire academic year — 150 hours.*

*Alice Omaggio Hadley’s Teaching Language in Context

Local Transcript

You will receive an official record of classes and grades from your local school in Brazil. Credit transfer will vary from school to school, country to country, so please consult with your U.S. school guidance counselor.

students in Brazil
Life in one of the world’s most diverse melting pots will leave a lasting imprint.

Global Citizenship

After immersing yourself in unfamiliar practices and customs, you’ll become better equipped to interact with people from other cultures — in school, on the job, or in your personal life. In today’s interconnected global economy, intercultural skills have never been more important.

94% of participants said their intercultural understanding and knowledge improved as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program, while 93% said their experience made them more aware of global issues.

Independence & Resilience

Come home better prepared to make transitions, take control of new situations, and appreciate challenging experiences for what they are: opportunities to learn and grow.

90% of participants said their level of independence increased as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program.

“I learned things that aren’t taught in schools: what is really important to me, what I want out of life, and how to be more open-minded and confident.”

– Sophie R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna

College Readiness

Studying abroad gives you the kinds of life skills that can’t be learned in a classroom — and shows college admissions reps that you’re already one step ahead in terms of initiative, maturity, and independence.

79% of participants said their experience with CIEE helped shape their college applications.

“Everyone is shocked to hear that I studied abroad when I was 15 years old. I’m shocked myself — yet, quite frankly, I’m shocked that it isn’t more common to study abroad in high school. CIEE gave me an opportunity that most people have never heard of. The program transformed me into the person I am today, with impeccable people skills and the ability to adapt to any environment. I owe a huge thanks to the CIEE program. I am proud to be a CIEE alumnus!”

- Alex A., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Passion & Direction

Upon return, you’ll likely have a better sense of what you want to study in college or even pursue as a career.

86% of participants felt their experience with CIEE impacted their educational or career pursuits and goals, while 96% of participants said they regularly use the knowledge and skills they acquired while abroad with CIEE.

Sample Activities & Excursions

A vibrant culture, sandy beaches, and the wilds of the rain forest — it all awaits you in Brazil.

Your orientation in historic São Luís will jump-start your adventure with a tour of the city, some downtime at its magnificent beaches, and intensive Portuguese lessons to prepare you to converse with the locals.

Most schools offer the chance to participate in sports like indoor soccer, volleyball, and handball. For more local flavor, you can also check out regional favorites such as capoeira, surfing, slacklining, dancing, and drumming.

Looking for adventure? You can also choose (at an additional cost) to go on excursions. Examples of options may include:

  • Carolina
    Enjoy the magnificent waterfalls and relaxing swimming destinations of the national park in Carolina, located in the beautiful state of Maranhão.
  • Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
    Surrender your senses to the blue lagoons and plentiful desert sand dunes of this popular tourist attraction.
  • Rio de Janeiro
    Experience the sights and sounds of this sparkling city, famous for samba, sweeping beaches, dramatic mountains, and, of course, its annual Carnaval.
  • Amazon rain forest
    Journey to a spectacular sight you’ll never forget — the world’s largest tropical rain forest, famous for its biodiversity.
  • Alcântara
    Head off to revel in the haunting beauty of colonial Alcântara, where the jungle edges historical ruins that tell stories of generations before.
City backlit by setting sun
Enjoy nonstop activity where the city meets the sea.
Girl student with surfboard
Catch a wave on a nearby beach.

Meet the Staff

Nina Wineburgh

Enrollment Coordinator

Nina’s passion for international education stems from her own experience living with a host family and attending a local high school in a small town outside of Avignon, France during her sophomore year of high school.

Upon her return to the U.S. with refreshed perspectives and yearning for cross-cultural exploration, Nina continued to pursue her interest in the French language and immersive experiences.

As a French & Francophone studies major in college, she spent a semester studying and living in Nantes, France, and a semester in Rabat, Morocco, on a CIEE-led program. She is thrilled to help facilitate short and long term study abroad programs for high school students with the hope that their experiences are as transformative and inspiring as hers was.

Rachel Babich

Enrollment Coordinator

Rachel has been committed to supporting study abroad since high school, when she traveled through Europe on a cultural exchange program. Returning home with a greater understanding of her world, she sought out opportunities to see new cultures. Through studying in the South of France, living and working in Paris, and traveling to over 25 countries, Rachel has seen firsthand the power of immersive study.

Since then, she has been helping American and international students experience the transformative opportunities study abroad can bring. She is excited to help high school students and their families have a great experience studying with CIEE!

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