StudyTour 2023, Brazil: Looking back

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On May 5, we gathered with our group of 25 people at Tilburg University. From here we would take the bus to Schiphol Airport where a plane would take us halfway around the world, because after all those years of Covid-19 and lockdowns we could finally go on our annual StudyTour again!

In addition to the company visits, we thoroughly enjoyed the cultural and natural highlights that Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo had to offer. After arriving at the São Paulo Guarulhos airport, we were immediately confronted with the immensity of Sao Paulo. As we drove to our hostel we saw skyscraper after skyscraper, in addition we also saw the less beautiful parts of Brazil, as we also drove past some favelas while some cab drivers told us what to look out for during our stay in Brazil. After this, we arrived at our hostel in the northern part of São Paulo.

During our first full day in Brazil, we immediately did some fun things, as we went all the way to one of São Paulo’s southernmost attractions. We did this via a 1.5-hour subway trip that cost us only 80 cents per person and took us to the famous F1 circuit: Autódromo José Carlos Pace. There we watched both the free practice of a GP and the Sao Paulo cup karting race. We also had lunch there, where we walked over a buffet and paid a certain amount based on the weight of your plate (something quite normal in Brazil). After this, we walked through one of the wealthier areas in Brazil that led us to a large lake where we sat on the waterfront with some caipirinhas, local beers and live music.

The next day we would see a completely different side of São Paulo and understood why the cab driver had warned us. After arriving in the old city center, we immediately caught sight of all the homeless people there to collect their free meal for the day. Since there was a somewhat less pleasant atmosphere here, we quickly walked on through the neighborhood. While walking, we came across a large skyscraper with a viewpoint over the city, and upon arrival on the 26th, we were again confronted with the immensity of the city. Skyscrapers were visible as far as the eye could reach! After satisfying ourselves with lunch while enjoying this view, we visited the Minhocas closure, a highway that is closed to motor traffic every Sunday, so that the population (and mostly tourists) could travel on it and admire the city from a different perspective. We ended the evening at a restaurant called Bar Brahma where we had a delicious meal.

The following days had more free time planned for the participants, where they went in different smaller groups to different places, such as local shopping malls, neighborhoods with lots of street art, beautiful parks, and other fun sights. We also had some simple formal activities, and organized a fun evening with a games tournament that we christened the “buddy games” and finally left for Rio de Janeiro by night bus when it finally showed up after a 3-hour delay.

When we arrived in Rio de Janeiro, we immediately recognized a city that was very different from Sao Paulo in terms of culture and nature. The city was much prettier and greener, and much more centered around the waters there, so it naturally attracted many more tourists.

After checking into the apartments, we immediately began our planning as we headed to FGV Ebape, a smaller university in Rio. After a brief presentation about the university, a quick tour of the buildings, and a discussion about ESG in Brazil, we headed back to Copacabana for dinner and finally to bed early as the ride on the night bus had taken its toll on the sleep of the participants.

The next day would begin with another formal activity as we had an additional university visit at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. After most spent the afternoon at the beach as the weather was lovely, we made our way to Sugarloaf Mountain with the whole group towards the end of the afternoon, to enjoy the beautiful view this gave over the city and the bay with the sunset.

We started Saturday with a great tour of downtown Rio de Janeiro. During this tour we visited all kinds of beautiful places like the famous Selaron steps, the city’s cathedral, the city’s oldest park and several other highlights and historical sites. Also, at each point our tour guide managed to tell us interesting stories about the city that belonged to the locations where we were at that time. On the same day, we also visited a soccer match between Rio’s Fluminense and Cuiaba and enjoyed the atmosphere of the bustling Maracanã stadium (the same stadium where the 2014 World Cup final was played). The evening ended fairly split, where some decided to go to sleep in time, and some decided to explore Rio’s nightlife at one of the larger local clubs.

Sunday started the day again nice and early with a nice boat ride across the Guanabara Bay where Rio de Janeiro is located, where we could enjoy some drinks and the beautiful view of the city from the perspective of the sea. After we were able to rejoice some of the participants with some solid ground under their feet again, we made our way with the group to a nice beach bar that we had picked out in advance. Here we all had a delicious meal and made our way bit by bit to the beach we were right next to to try the water. After spending some time here and enjoying the wonderfully warm water, we decided to make our way to a nearby beach where apparently the most beautiful sunset in the world would be visible. Unfortunately, we found out too late that we had gone to the wrong part of the beach for this, but even here it was still a beautiful sight.

On Monday we mainly occupied ourselves with some formal activities, where for example we were the guests of KPMG Rio for a presentation and a tour of their office, and we enjoyed a presentation by the Dutch Consul General in Rio de Janeiro about the culture and business climate there. We ended the day with a delicious dinner in at a classic Rodizio style restaurant where we enjoyed all the great food immensely.

Finally, on Tuesday we visited the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Mount Corcovado which gave our trip a spectacular ending with an amazing view of the entire city, bay and sea. Unfortunately, after this it was already time to pack all the suitcases and buy the last souvenirs, because at the end of the afternoon the cabs were already waiting to take us to the airport. After a 12-hour flight, it was unfortunately time to say goodbye to everyone and return home.

We would like to thank both the committee as well as all the participants without whom this amazing journey would not have been possible, and look forward to see what next year’s StudyTour will have to offer.