Jordan Bretl

Stillwater, MN

Majors and certificates

Portuguese, Latin American, Caribbean, & Iberian Studies

Graduation year


After graduation

I recently took a two-month trip to Europe where I visited some study abroad friends, as well as some family friends. Since returning, I am currently looking for a job, but I am hoping to move back to Brazil very soon to work either as a translator or an English teacher.


While I started at UW-Madison with intentions of studying Spanish, I ended up taking a Portuguese class a friend recommended to fill a gap in my schedule. I enjoyed the class so much that I became motivated to learn the language and learn more about Brazilian and Lusophone culture. I also studied abroad for a year in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which has only made me more enthusiastic about the Portuguese language and that much more excited to go back to Brazil.

How language enriched

Learning an advanced level of Portuguese has allowed me to not only make new friends from a variety of countries, but to also learn about the cultures of Brazil, Portugal, and Lusophone, Africa. Learning Portuguese also opened up new job and travel opportunities for me around the world, which I plan to use to my advantage.

Favorite memory

UW-Madison's Portuguese classes are very close-knit, with small class sizes and almost always the same professors and TAs. Having such a "small" department allowed me to make deeper connections with other students and professors, which helped me to not be afraid, to be myself, and to enjoy the challenges associated with learning a language. Valued experiences

How language was maintained

While I currently don't get much speaking practice beyond my weekly Skype calls to my Brazilian host family and friends, I am always watching Brazilian novelas, listening to music and reading as much literature as possible, which has done wonders for learning more regional slang and very specific vocabulary that you might not necessarily need to know on a day-to-day basis.

Advice for others

If you're studying Portuguese, go to Bate-Papo (the Portuguese conversation group) as much as possible. There are always speakers of all levels, from absolute beginners to native speakers, and it is always a great way to improve your Portuguese. In addition, you meet people from abroad and professors and TAs from the Portuguese Department. If you are serious about studying Portuguese, also look into Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, because they can help you fund your study abroad experience(s)!

Favorite word or phrase

Neca de pitibiriba — "Abosutely nothing, nothing at all"


 Learning Portuguese opened up new job and travel opportunities for me around the world.