So during our semester break, 3 colleagues and I had the opportunity to travel to Bauru, São Paolo in Brazil where we observed one of the dental schools there, USP-FOB for 2 weeks. This specific Global Initiatives program location was unique to the student applicants because it was catered to underclassmen D1s and D2s, which meant that it focused solely on observations as opposed to providing treatment. This was not a service trip but instead an educational enrichment opportunity to see how another dental school operated and provided tx to its patients. One of the most remarkable things about USP-FOB was its Centrinho, the hospital on campus that focused solely on craniofacial anomalies, like cleft lip/palate. Their facility is world renowned and literally has patients flying in from all over South America to be treated by their incredible multidisciplinary staff. From surgeons, to dentists, to speech and language pathologists, to social workers, so many people were involved in the patient care at the hospital and it was amazing.
When we were at the school, spending time with the students, it was super cool to see that everything was ran so similar to UMICH. However, one big difference is age, since they dont have a such thing as undergrad there. Straight form HS they go to whatever professional school they have interest and tested into. I think this is a much more efficient and cost friendly system but thats just me.
During our time there, we also got to go to Rio de Janeiro! For a weekend, we booked a plane ticket and airbnb to sight see the city that’s home to one of the 7 wonders of the world. I honestly had reservations about going there because everyone warned us how dangerous it was. But I had to think about it, and decided I wasnt sure the next time I’d have an opportunity to go there, let alone be on that continent again. so… YOLO! Turns out it was a great decision. We saw Christ the Redeemer, and Sugar Loaf Mountain and the South Atlantic Ocean and had some amazing food!
Speaking of which, I was so surprised throughout my trip about the food in Brazil. I dont know why but I thought the cuisine there would be sooo different. But it was a pleasant surprise to see outside of Brazilian cuisine that there was still quite a large variety of other types of food. We frequently ate Japanese; Mexican; Italian; Thai; Lebanese, and even American. The Brazilian food was interesting but pretty good! It consisted of meats, cheese and fried breads with meats and cheese lol. Not the most healthy but pretty good in moderation.
All in all it was an amazing time. But honestly it wouldnt have been the same without our friends Mateus and Larissa, USP-FOB students who visited UM-SOD last year for the exchange program. They acted as our “unofficial” hosts and showed us unbelievable hospitality that truly made our trip as unforgettable as it was. They embodied what a true host was and showed us (without trying) how meaningful it was to go out the way, constantly, for someone who has traveled so far to visit the place you call home. I am honored to call them friends and look forward to being as impactful as they were to us, to a visitor of our school in the future.