I highly, highly recommend USAC Florianopolis to any student interested in an awesome study abroad experience. Brazil is a rich, beautiful country, and many Brazilians consider Florianopolis (Floripa) the jewel of Brazil. I cannot say enough good things about the locals from Floripa, who proudly refer to themselves as manezinhos. Manezinhos epitomize the open, laid-back attitude of the Brazilian people. Many Brazilians love gringos who immerse themselves in their unique culture and Portuguese language.
USAC Floripa is comparatively cheap to many study abroad programs I researched, but it still offers loads of trips, island tours, and student support through language partners and a really amazing staff. During the Fall semester, USAC students traveled to Iguazu falls. In the Spring, we went on a weekish-long tour of Minas Gerais before the program officially started. This trip was completely planned and organized by USAC and was a great introduction to the country before we were let loose in Floripa. There were a number of fun group hikes and trips once we were on the island of Floripa, but I think the best experiences come to those that use USAC's resources to plan their own spontaneous hikes and beach trips (Check out lagoinha do leste, nofragados, and as many of the 43 beaches as you can!).
USAC offers a variety of classes taught in English, and you can also enroll in classes at UFSC, the local university next-door to the USAC office. This program is good for students from a lot of backgrounds, including natural resources, business, global economy, arts, etc. My semester even had some engineers and pre-med students that finished their gen ed requirements in Brazil, so check the USAC website for course offerings! Personally, I had classes in natural resources management, wildlife conservation, surfing, Brazilian cuisine, capoeira, and intro Portuguese I and II. During the first 5 weeks of the program every student only attends an immersive Portuguese class. After this, you have the choice to keep taking Portuguese classes, but I highly recommend learning as much as you can while you're here. You can go the entire semester only speaking English and partying your butt off if you want, but in my experience it's worth immersing yourself as much in the language and culture as you can. A motivated student can reach fluency or near-fluency in their time here, but a high accessibility for English speakers means this might not be the best fit for Portuguese learners that require an extremely strict environment/regiment to keep themselves on tract. Classes are intellectually engaging most of the time (every class has its ups and downs) and look GOOD on your transcript. My professors were all extremely passionate and inspired me intellectually and creatively. They understand much of your learning takes place outside of the classroom, so your classes will probably look a lot harder on your transcript than they actually are workload wise. Take all of the 1 credit classes (surfing, cuisine, capoeira) that you can because they're extremely fun and easy (meet once a week), and you'll learn about Brazilian culture while making friends with some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
Admittedly, I studied in Floripa in Spring '18, before a Brazilian election cycle marked by racism, sexism, and homophobia. Brazil is certainly far from perfect, but I still think Floripa represents a very accepting community for women and members of the LGBTQ community that want to safely experience the country, but are alarmed at the problematic rhetoric of the Bolsonaro government (many Brazilians told me Floripa is among the gayest Brazilian cities and there is a large, generally accepting college community). Like any big city, Floripa has its dangerous areas, but you can tell your family that it is considered the safest city in Brazil. I ignorantly walked home alone many nights and was lucky enough to avoid any really bad incidents, but bad people do exist and bad things do (and did) happen so you should always be careful knowing where you are and walking in groups through campus, the city, or wherever.
You have a number of housing options through USAC: single or double room in an apartment with other Americans or Brazilians, or a homestay. I requested to live in a single so I could have more independence. Homestays are a good idea if you're focused on language acquisition, but opt for an apartment if you want greater independence and privacy. I think I got really lucky with my apartment location and roommates because I got to live with Americans and Brazilians near the USAC office and UFSC campus. The location and independence of my apartment facilitated my social life and bonding with other students living nearby, but I did not pick up Portuguese as easily as friends living in homestays. Some friends of mine had less than stellar experiences with their housing or lived far distances away. Still, it is daunting to set up your own housing so it is probably easier to roll the dice, go with USAC housing, and attempt a switch if it's a bad fit. Year-long students can rest assured that they can change their housing their second semester to find some more obscure, cool housing options. If I live in Floripa again, I intend to look for housing outside the city so I can be nearer the beaches and trails of the island.
All in all, Florianopolis is an extremely fun city to live in. The island has a really cool mixture of city life and rural feel with clubs, bars, beaches, hikes, and soccer teams. This experience can really be whatever you make of it. You can immerse yourself in a rich culture while learning a beautiful language and meeting a diverse mixture of people or you can take a single Portuguese class and spend the rest of your semester tanning on the beach and partying with your American classmates. I recommend finding your balance to enjoy Floripa for all it's worth. You're going to make great friends with your USAC classmates. Build and cherish these friendships, but also take some chances and step outside the USAC comfort zone to meet people from more varied backgrounds. Take chances together, step outside your comfort zone, make travel plans around Brazil, learn the language, make some friends, and learn a lot! Study with USAC Floripa and you'll have a semester of self-discovery, fun, and fulfillment.