By: Maura C. Bellmio, MBA ’13

The first leg of our South American tour has been very exciting. Although the 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo Brazil was exhausting (and I think most of us didn´t sleep much), we hit the ground running as soon as we got into the city.

One of our first adventures involved unintentionally walking through an enormous construction site while trying to find a place to eat. What was interesting about the experience was that while in the US we would have probably been chased from the area with shovels and jackhammers, the Brazilian construction workers didn´t even seem to mind our jaunt through their workspace. Some waved, said “Ola,” but absolutely no one bothered to say, “what are you guys doing here?!” Eventually we found a great, buffet-style place to eat around the corner from our hotel that gave us a nice introduction to the Brazilian cuisine.

That evening, a group of us navigated our way through the city streets to find a great restaurant called, “Frageria,” where we got some great Brazilian beef (and meat juice). Also, by this time we had begun to realize how different Spanish and Portuguese really are.You would have thought that we would have figured this out BEFORE getting there, but many of us didn´t. At dinner, we were graciously helped by one the restaurant´s employees with deciphering menu items and ordering our meal.

One of our other adventures in Brazil involved attending a soccer game at the San Paulo Futbol Club. Although some of us were vaguely concerned with safety when we arrived (the stadium isn´t in the nicest of neighborhoods), we ended up having a great experience. The entire group got tickets in the stadium´s upper level where it appeared all of the biggest Sao Paulo fans also sat, and we were right in the middle of the action – some may argue, a little too in the middle of the action during the first half. Our section was almost certainly over sold and people were pouring in even 30 minutes after the game started with nowhere to go. However, the second half of the game was much calmer and enjoyable. LUIS FA-BI-ANO!

Our Sao Paulo company visits to Rio Bravo, Ernst &Young, Odontoprev, and Brookfield provided some great insights into how business in Brazil differs from the United States. The tax and financial reporting standards are incredibly complex. Also, the country´s recent economic growth coupled with the tremendous evolution of the population´s demographics have led to significant changes in how companies do business in Brazil. And, with the 2013 World Cup and 2016 Olympics coming to the country, the government has made huge investments in the country´s infrastructure. Brazil was amazing…can´t wait to give you the down low on our visit to Buenos Aires!