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Sam Squelch (RKEO), Rebecca Marney (BU Events) and Gabriela Sonomura helping with the organisation of the SURE conference at BU on 4 March 2015Gabriela Sonomura, an undergraduate student from Brazil, joined BU during a one-month voluntary placement. To help Gabriela integrate and learn more about BU and student life in the UK, current student Ally Arthur-Worsop spent time with her, going to lectures and working together. Here Gabriela gives her account of what they learned from each other…

“I’m a student of Oceanography at the University of Vale do Itajaí, Santa Catarina, Brazil. In February, I had the opportunity to travel to England for a five-week placement with Dr Luciana Esteves, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Science &Technology at BU. Dr Esteves gave a lecture in my university last year and I contacted her afterwards asking for a placement opportunity.

Besides the opportunity of a placement relevant to the subject I’m studying, I was excited with the opportunity to experience a rich culture, full of ancient architecture and history. I can say that the experience gained in this exchange and the contact with the English culture was amazing. I realized the differences between Brazil and England, how things work in the first world countries, such as public transportation, security and education. The experience of an exchange in a foreign country is amazing, it doesn’t matter if it’s for a month or a year, being in contact with another culture is positive to everybody.

On the first day I met Ally. She introduced me to the University and she helped me understand in a better way how things work in England, the universities, the support given to students (like accommodation) and the whole process until graduation. I also met Ioli, a Tourism student at BU. Ioli is from Greece and she showed me the touristic attractions and the city in general. The most interesting thing in Europe is that due to the EU, people have the option to choose to study in any country that is part of the EU, and because of this, you can meet people from different countries.

During those five weeks, I realised the differences between my country and the country where I was living, not only about the culture and education, but people as well. Before coming to England, I was aware of these differences, but I admit that there are still many situations which positively surprised me, for example, respect and solidarity to others, honesty, security, but especially the patriotism and pride that English people feel about their country.

Brazil is a wonderful country, known worldwide because of football, carnival and especially their cheerful and welcoming people. Unfortunately, these are not the main qualities that will develop a country. Having lived in England made me see how much Brazil needs to change; at the same time, made me realize that the dream that we have to see our country in a better situation is not impossible. We can make the difference, starting in our own home

The experience gained in this exchange cannot be measured. The opportunity of living for five weeks in England and meeting people around the world was indescribable. It certainly was one of the best experiences I ever had and I’ll take it to my personal and professional life forever. I’m really thankful for this opportunity; it made my personal dream come true. England, I really hope to see you soon.”

Written by Gabriela Sonomura, University of Vale do Itajaí, Brazil

Read Ally’s account.

If you are interested in opportunities to study or work abroad please see our website for further information.

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