It has been two weeks since I left England. Only one week ago I turned in my final term paper and officially completed my final coursework at the University of Leicester.

Although I loved the courses I was enrolled in, I am relieved to be free of it all. And with that freedom comes a change in scenery: Ribeirao Preto, Brazil.

Ribeirao Preto is translated as the large black river, but to my dismay, no such river exists today. However, I had other things to look forward to. Unlike most, I did not travel to Brazil just for sight-seeing. Rather, I had the honor of being invited to conduct research at the University of Sao Paolo with a biochemist and dentist, whom I met at the Experimental Biology conference in the San Diego Convention Center last year.

The two weeks of conducting research and of basking in the gorgeous land that is Brazil have been amazing. It’s very different from England. England was quiet. Coming from a family of Syrians and Mexicans, that was a bit strange to me. Brazil, on the other hand, is loud with the laughter and music of families and friends late into the night. The food is rich and delicious.

England was fascinating and wonderful, but Brazil feels like home. To add to my joy, the scientists in the lab are incredibly intelligent and passionate about their work, a truly inspiring thing to watch and be a part of, so much so that I have even considered applying to medical school here, where it is free and still among the top universities in the world, according to TimesHigherEduction.co.uk.

And I cannot even begin to describe how surreally beautiful this land is. I’ll let the pictures show you, but don’t be fooled. Reality is much better.

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