French native Clémentine Gautier, a fourth-year Dual Degree in Laws & International Relations student, came to IE University to gain a more complete profile. Now nearing the end of her program, Clémentine decided to undertake her biggest challenge yet, traveling across the world for an exchange program in Rio de Janeiro. We recently caught up with Clémentine to understand how her experience changed her, immersing her in Brazilian culture and their way of life.

I love learning about the world around me and how it works—that’s why I chose to study international relations and law. I believe the fields are complementary, and that an understanding of both is essential for a successful career in either of the fields. Being able to combine these areas is what drove me to study at IE University, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

I recently got to explore these academic passions alongside a more personal one—travel. I love exploring new places, so I jumped at the chance to complete a semester abroad at FGV Direito Rio University. During my time there, I immersed myself in everything Rio had to offer, both within the university and the region as a whole.

Tell us about your time on the exchange program in Brazil.

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro in July for my exchange program at FGV Direito Rio was an exciting start. I took advantage of the first month to immerse myself in the city before my classes started in August. From the moment I landed, I delved into the local customs. Rio is very different from Europe in many ways, but I quickly got used to the rhythm and learned to appreciate it. 

Regarding the university, FGV Direito Rio was particularly attentive to exchange students. When I selected my courses, I realized that my proficiency in Portuguese was limited. Fortunately, the university offered a variety of English-taught electives and I even had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for one of my professors.

Throughout my exchange experience, I had the chance to meet and connect with people from diverse backgrounds and nationalities including Germany, the UK, Denmark and India. Together, we explored the city, visited numerous beaches, did several hikes and even embarked on short trips around the beautiful region of Rio. If I were to summarize Rio in a few words, I’d say it’s a fusion of music, football and the beach. The city’s natural surroundings, combined with these three elements, are integral components of the unique culture of Rio de Janeiro.

Clémentine Gautier Rio de Janeiro Exchange IE Univeristy

What would you highlight as the most enriching aspect? 

The most enriching aspect of this experience was the easy access to local activities and events. As an exchange student, I had not anticipated how easily I would be able to access the true culture of Rio de Janeiro—not just the tourist side of it—but I had the chance to get to know real aspects of the Cariocas’ lifestyle. For example, I was able to fully immerse myself in the soul of Rio at the legendary football stadium: the Maracanã; where, amid the crowd of supporters, I understood the significance that a match represents for the locals. 

Additionally, I felt that I fully experienced the carioca lifestyle at the beach, where I joined a volleyball group that plays in Copacabana every late afternoon. Finally, when I think of moments when I was completely immersed in the local culture, I think of Pedro Do Sal. Every evening, but especially on Monday nights, Cariocas gather in a city square around musicians to dance, sing and enjoy caipirinhas to the sound of samba! I will never forget these moments.

Clémentine Gautier Rio de Janeiro Exchange IE Univeristy

How did IE University facilitate this experience?

IE University created a multicultural environment where I could interact with Brazilian classmates. This interaction sparked my curiosity and encouraged me to explore their culture independently. Then, IE University offered me the opportunity to apply to FGV Direito Rio and here I am! 

I think that with the vast number of resources available at IE University, including these international experiences, it’s almost impossible not to find your way as long as you put your mind to it and take advantage of these valuable opportunities.