The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

July 10, 2013

Medina resident blogging about studying abroad

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — BATAVIA — What do you eat for breakfast in Brazil? For Charissa Farnsworth that is just part of what she is discovering on a three-week adventure as she is studying abroad in Americana, a municipality of about 200,000 located in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Farnsworth’s host family offered a buffet-style breakfast spread featuring papaya, coffee, cereal, juice, toast and yogurt over the past week, by the way.

Farnsworth, 21, of Medina, is an honors student at Genesee Community College and she is blogging about her trip. Her posts are found at

Her journey began July 1 when she flew to Atlanta and then took a 10-hour flight to Sao Paulo where her teachers greeted her.

“I was told that, ‘today is English day’ my only day where everyone would speak in English to me, but that tomorrow it would all be in Portuguese,” she wrote in her first blog post. Her trip includes an intense course in Portuguese which she hopes will pay off quickly.

“The most rewarding aspect of my trip will be at the end, when I’ve been studying Portuguese for almost a month and I can have a simple conversation with my host family. I want to be able to express my gratitude for allowing me to stay with them in their own language,” she said.

Farnsworth’s host family in Americana has welcomed her openly. Her host “sister,” Jessica, greeted her at the airport and Jessica’s parents, Fatima and Antonio, have embraced a new “daughter.”

“I’m so overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity of these people,” Charissa wrote. “Even though I don’t speak the language, I feel like part of the family.”

Besides attending classes, Farnsworth has already visited the zoo, which she called “absolutely gorgeous!” 

She is taking a lot of pictures. Her dream job is to work as a freelance travel photographer. She has plans to transfer to a four-year photography school. This is her second study-abroad trip this year. She recently returned from Ireland.

Scholarships offset the costs of both journeys. She earned a Gilman Scholarship to travel to Brazil. The Gilman Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. More information about the Gilman Scholarship is available at

“Charissa is a great example of a student taking advantage of all the opportunities available to her,” said James Goodwin, GCC’s director of Global Initiatives. “Many students think they can’t afford study-abroad programs, but financial assistance is out there and we’re happy to help them find it because these opportunities pay off tremendously down the road.”

Farnsworth’s family has encouraged her travel experiences. She is the daughter of Fred and Nancy Farnsworth and has eight siblings: Amber, Meredith, Travis, Sabrina, Nichole, Heather, Cyndil, and Collette.