Produced by Sarah Knox
Gabriela 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 Ally gives her account of what they learned from each other…
“I’m in my second year of my Geography degree at BU. Having never really been abroad myself, I always assumed that university was the same all over the world, but when Gabriela came to BU for her placement, I was shocked by the vast differences between the way things worked in Brazil and the way they work here.
For a start I assumed that all universities have at least some form of accommodation that is available for their students; however, in Brazil accommodation is the complete responsibility of the students and the university doesn’t help at all. I also assumed that all universities, although different, were similar in the way that they do things. I have learnt that in Brazil there are universities that are free, but the difference between the quality of those universities and the ones that you have to pay for is vast.
One thing that Gabriela didn’t like about her university was that the way you pay for university in Brazil is very different to here. In the UK you pay a set amount for every year of university and the government helps us; whereas in Brazil you have to pay for every course you do separately which gives a very money grabbing feel, which is not pleasant for the students. However, this may be better in a way because for those students that have less money they can do courses as and when they can afford to pay.
However, I guess no matter where you are in the world, the things we do with our spare time remain the same as normally on the weekends and evenings when I’m not doing work I like to hang out with my friends and go out to bars; and so does Gabriela. One thing that facilitates this is being a member of the university societies and taking part in the social events they organise. In my first year, the opportunity to join new societies really helped me settle in and make new friends, which is why I think it’s a shame that such opportunities are not available in universities abroad. The reasons behind picking what course you want to do are very personal and therefore I don’t think it matters where in the world you are. Some people like Gabriela have always had a passion for something and know exactly what they want to do with their lives; others like me just kind of fall in to it.
I think the exchange was a great opportunity for Gabriela, and I have learned a lot from my experience about not only the differences between the universities but also Brazil and its culture. I would love the opportunity to go on an exchange myself and encourage anyone how is interested in studying abroad to do so.”
Written by Ally Arthur-Worsop, BU student
Read Gabriela’s account.
If you are interested in opportunities to study or work abroad please see our website for further information.