Alondra Avitia

Position title: 2019 SIPI Alumna

Currently located in Addison, IL

What motivated you to enroll in SIPI? When I was studying abroad for an academic year in Bologna, Italy, I encountered so many people that knew minimum four languages. I was inspired by their ability to communicate with people from all over the world and I was eager to get to that point in my life as well. After studying abroad in Rio de Janeiro and traveling around Portugal, I added learning Portuguese onto my bucket list. When I saw the opportunity on my Facebook feed, I knew I had to apply!

How has Portuguese enriched your life so far? Knowing a language gives you a deeper understanding to a country’s culture, society, and politics. I have gained so much knowledge on the Lusophone world due to SIPI and I am so excited to see all the doors this opens for me in the future. 

What made the language learning at SIPI different from other language classes you have taken? This program was as immersive as it could possibly get without actually being in Brazil. We had class from 8:50 to 3:30 pm and there were so many events afterwards that I always found myself speaking Portuguese outside of the classroom. In only eight weeks, I felt confident in my language abilities to say I spoke Portuguese. It is challenging to get this out of a language course during the academic year when there are so many other courses and extra-curriculums on your plate.

What was your favorite part of the SIPI Program? The people. My classmates were just as excited about learning Portuguese every single day and our professors were remarkable. Everyone was so encouraging, supportive, and uplifting. 

How have you maintained or improved your Portuguese since SIPI? Improving my Portuguese has been quite difficult because I have no one at home to practice it with; however, I try my best to maintain my language skills by watching shows and listening to music in Portuguese. 

What advice do you have for people looking at participating in SIPI? Do it! This is one of my favorite memories from my undergraduate experience. I always say it felt like “studying abroad without the actual abroad part”. Go to all of the social events – there is a lovely community of Portuguese-speaking folks in Madison!

Have you traveled to any Portuguese-speaking areas? Was it before or after completing SIPI? Yes! After my first-year I had the opportunity to study abroad in Rio de Janeiro through UW’s Global Gateway program. When I was studying abroad in Italy, I went to Portugal during my winter break and I fell in love. I can’t wait to travel to more Portuguese speaking countries and use all the language skills I acquired at SIPI.

What was your favorite SIPI social event? It is so difficult to choose! I always looked forward to Bate-Papo at the terrace every week, but the Forró fo Sho events have a special place in my heart because I love to dance and it was a great opportunity to meet the Brazilian community in Madison. 

What is your favorite word or phrase in Portuguese? “Tudo jóia!”