Lauren Lark ’11 spent last semester participating in the HWS study abroad program in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recently, the Monroe News (Michigan) published a story about Lark and her experiences there.
“Seeing other people in other cultures and hearing what they have to say and experiencing their way of life is an amazing and eye-opening contradiction to life that I grew up living,” she is quoted.
Lark stayed with a host family and took four classes, three of them at a language institution called Alumni.
“I have surprised even myself with how much Portuguese I have learned,” she is quoted. “Coming to the country, I spoke hardly a word, but by now I can carry on a conversation with almost anyone.”
Having lived in small cities and towns her whole life, Lark found the adjustment to the city of Sao Paulo easier than she’d expected and acclimated to the whole experience very quickly, according to the article. She intends to return to Brazil for Carnival this spring.
Lark, a public policy and economics double-major, is a member of the HWS sailing team.
The full article follows.
Broader view of the world
Danielle Portteus • January 7, 2010
Lauren Lark’s eyes were opened recently while studying abroad in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., Ms. Lark said her study abroad experience in the fall has turned her into a self-described global citizen.
“Seeing other people in other cultures and hearing what they have to say and experiencing their way of life is an amazing and eye-opening contradiction to life that I grew up living,” Ms. Lark said in an e-mail during her trip.
“I have found myself more than once doing, seeing or hearing something in Brazil that I thought, ‘Why can’t Americans do it like this?’ “
For example, the Ida resident was impressed with the public transportation system in the South American country.
“Although there is still an unbelievable amount of car traffic in the city, the public transportation system provides an efficient, clean and environmentally conscious alternative,” she said.
Traveling to South America has been a dream of Ms. Lark’s since she was a young.
“I have always wanted to travel to South America,” she said. “When my dad was in college, he dropped out of school to go, and I always loved hearing his stories.”
Beginning Sept. 5, Ms. Lark took four classes, including three at the language institution called Alumni. The classes included Brazilian cinema, Meo Ambiente, known as environment, and Portuguese.
“I have surprised even myself with how much Portuguese I have learned,” she said. “Coming to the country, I spoke hardly a word, but by now I can carry on a conversation with almost anyone.”
In addition, she took a class on Brazilian culture emphasizing the historical, social and economic perspective.
With a population of more than 19 million people, Sao Paulo is one of the world’s largest cities. Ms. Lark has lived in small cities and towns, with the largest being Ann Arbor.
“I was a little nervous about how I would do with life in the big city,” she said. “I sort of expected to get lost a lot or feel completely overwhelmed with the number of people and the rapid paced lifestyle, but to my surprise, I assimilated into the city life pretty easily.”
Fitting into the city was not much of a problem, Ms. Lark said.
“The city has such a mix of people that is feasible for a wide range of people to pass as locals,” she said.
The college student stayed in the area of Vila Mariana, a middle-class residential area about 25 minutes from Alumni by subway. She lived with another American student among the same host family – but in two separate apartments.
Ms. Lark recommends that each college student try to study abroad.
“I would recommend a similar endeavor to any and every student looking to broaden their horizons,” she said.
In the spring, Ms. Lark hopes to return to Brazil for Carnival.
“I have made so many amazing friends and connections, and I love the city so much that I would be missing a part of myself if I didn’t return,” she said.
The semester opened Ms. Lark’s eyes to the country’s recent economic success.
“I think there is something to be said for the economic growth and maturing that the Brazilian market has been experiencing in the recent past and is speculated to see into the future,” she said. “This is an exciting time for Brazil, and I think that America would be crazy for not reaching out to help and aid their growth, either economically, politically or even educationally in exchange programs such as mine.”
Ms. Lark returned home Dec. 15. She plans to continue studying Portuguese, though she is majoring in public policy and economics with a double minor in environmental and Latin American studies.
A 2007 graduate of Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ms. Lark is the daughter of Jeffery Lark and Donna Lark-Weiner of Ida.