|photo: Ananda Lima|
What's wrong with translating the idea of a major into "area de concentração"? It's a cultural problem--Brazilians don't really do general education, not like Americans, anyway. So they don't talk about having an "area de concentração" unless they are graduate students with a focus or concentration. Instead, Brazilians speak about their major or department the same way they would talk about their work: eu faço matemática (I am a math major), or eu estudo matemática (I study math). Faculdade means department, and it can also be used the way we use the word "school"--sort of a general way of referring to where you study.
Speaking of school, another confusion I encountered was the false cognate in the word "school." In American English, young people often use the word "school" to refer to university. In Portuguese, escola doesn't ever mean college or university, it means elementary school (and colégio is high school). So people would look at me funny when, at age 20, I would say "Eu vou para a escola." All of these terms came pretty quickly when I was living there, but it's easy to make these kinds of mistakes when the actual educational system is quite different. So to all of you who are going back to school, tenham um bom semestre!