People always talk about college being their home away from home, and this was a really hard concept for me to wrap my head around for a while if I am being honest. I couldn’t comprehend when I saw that some of my friends didn’t really see the need to go back to their hometowns for break, and that they would actually rather stay in LA with the new families they had created with people they had known for only a few months or years at best. 

 

Although I loved my first year at USC and wouldn’t have had it any other way, it still felt weird to call my dorm my “home”, or to say that I was going back to my “mom’s home” for break. Getting acclimated to a whole new environment, town, and state didn’t happen to me as quickly as I expected, or as quickly as it seemed it did for other people for that matter, but that’s because I still hadn’t found that element of USC that would make it my home. For my first year on campus I had amazing friends, learned a lot about myself, and was taught more lessons about freedom and responsibilities than I could have ever imagined, but nothing that connected all of those things to make it feel like I had found a new home or a new family.

 

However, that was bound to change. As a person who was born and raised in Brazil but had been living in the US since 2015, I went a while without feeling a strong connection, or even a desire to feel connected, with my culture. The Brazilian Student Association, or BRASA for short, was one of the first clubs that I joined as soon as I got to USC back in Fall 2018; I was sold on the idea of meeting a group of like-minded people that would understand all of my mannerisms and weird quirks, all of which come from being Brazilian. Nonetheless, it was extremely hard for me to create genuine connections with other members, because it seemed like I had been gone from Brazil for too long to have anything in common with them. I had always been told I was too Brazilian to be American, but for the first time it seemed like I was also too American to be Brazilian. I stopped going to club meetings, and felt like my BRASA experience had been cut short. 

 

When I came back for Fall 2019, I decided to give BRASA a second shot; I gained a leadership position as an Executive Assistant, as I realized that I also didn’t give BRASA people a chance to find something that we had in common. I can confidently say that was the best decision I have made during my college career. BRASA USC has given me my people, my family, my home away from home. I have gotten to serve as a general member, Executive Assistant, Professional Co-Director, and am now the President of the organization. I have grown as a man as I got to learn more about my culture and how that plays a role into who I am today. Moreover, it is an organization that has provided me with resources that allowed me to grow as a student and a professional; it even landed me the Summer internship that I start in less than two weeks!

Long story short, the best thing I did during my three years at USC, was to allow myself to get cultural! I wouldn’t trade my BRASA Familia for anything else!

Gus Lanser

Gus Lanser

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Florianópolis, Brazil PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @guslanser I am involved in community outreach through USC's American Institute of Chemical Engineer's K-12 Outreach initiative and the Engineers Without Borders international project in Bolivia. Beyond Viterbi, I am the President of the Brazilian Student Association, a Supplemental Instructor for MATH 226, and a Resident Assistant @ McCarthy Honors College.

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