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Student Life

Braving Brazil

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:0304115
  1. Erlick Pereira, second year medical student1
  1. 1University of Oxford

Erlick Pereira went to Brazil for his elective to learn Portugese and find out about the culture and infectious diseases

Key facts

  • Population--161.8 million

  • Language--Portuguese

  • Capital--Brasília

  • Currency--Real

  • International code--+55

When Brazilian people claim they live in a continent, not a country, they are not exaggerating. The distance from the east coast to the western border is further than from London to Moscow, and north to south is only slightly shorter. Brazil's area is almost as large as the United States. Brazil doesn't disappoint with its scenic and cultural diversity and perhaps only lacks the mountain ranges that its neighbours boast. With two thirds of its population spread along the coast and over half concentrated in cities, Brazil retains the atmosphere of a frontier community.

I went to Brazil into this atmosphere of exploration on a journey of self discovery. Many of my relatives emigrated to Brazil from the former Portuguese colony of Goa in India. I was keen to learn my family's language, to meet my Brazilian cousins, and to learn football and samba from the world experts. Learning a little medicine too wouldn't hurt. It was with these lofty ambitions that I undertook an elective in infectious and parasitic diseases in São Paulo.

A generous host

Fun-loving Brazilians host some of the most exciting parties -- and infectious diseases. Brazil is host to yellow fever, malaria (both Plasmodium falciparum and the less lethal vivax form), Chagas' …

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