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Homari Oda
Studying abroad showed me a different part of the world and sparked my interest.

Profile: Homari Oda

Undergraduate Student

Meeting a professor from the University of São Paulo when she was in high school got Homari Oda interested in Brazil. When she came to the University of Illinois, she wasn’t sure about her career plans, but she knew that studying in Brazil was a must.

“I planned around that in scheduling my classes freshman year,” Homari says. “Everything was not set in stone, so I made sure I had a couple different options if I changed my mind. I wanted a plan that would work for me.”

Homari studied abroad at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.

“It is a small campus in the middle of a big city; it felt like the university was in the middle of a forest, with monkeys in the trees,” Homari says. “The city was wonderful. The beach was a block away, and my apartment was on a hilltop overlooking the beach and neighboring mountains.

“Studying abroad showed me a different part of the world and sparked my interest,” Homari says. “Before I left for Brazil I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated college. Going there opened my eyes to different options, and it also showed me the strengths and the flaws of both Brazil and the United States.”

Homari has continued to study Portuguese since her semester in Brazil, and she wants to work in an international company where she can utilize both English and Portuguese. Brazil is an emerging economy, and Homari expects the country to play an important role in the future. She believes that immersing herself in the language and community was her most meaningful experience while studying abroad.

“Going out and talking to Brazilians and meeting them on the street was the best way to get fully immersed,” Homari says. “I was invited to barbeques, and many of the people in the community would talk to me. The children especially were curious, and I spent many hours teaching English as well as capoeira [a Brazilian martial art] to the neighborhood kids.”