What was the biggest risk you ever took in your life? Stealing something, doing skydiving or living in another country which has a different language from your native language? The last one was the biggest risk I took in my whole life.
I am an exchange student from Turkey at Centro Universitário de Jaguariúna, UniFAJ in Jaguariúna in Sao Paulo in Brazil. In my country, the college students must do two internships for graduation, so I had been looking for a good company to do an internship since the beginning of the first semester, when I heard an opportunity to do an internship at UniFAJ, Brazil. I felt both happy and worried, because I couldn’t speak Portuguese and I had no information about the country when I heard that I had the opportunity to do an internship in Brazil. Being aware of the advantages of doing an internship, however, I decided to study in Brazil, because I knew doing an internship in a foreign country will help me develop personal and professional skills.
From the first day here, I met many new people and I experienced a lot of new things. Brazil and Turkey are on the different half-spheres, so the seasons are opposite. It was winter here but it was summer in Turkey. The differences of seasons were weird for me too. Languages are also different. I started to learn some expressions such as “hi,” “thank you,” “sorry,” etc. in Portuguese, and now I can buy water speaking Portuguese. Brazilian people always like to have fun. One day I saw two women walking on the street and they had a speaker and had some drinks on their hands. They looked very happy, so, as far as I’ve seen, Brazilian people know how they can enjoy life, dance and be happy with the smallest things.
Foods are very different. Turkey’s food culture is quite rich and wide. So, in the beginning, it was a bit difficult to get used to foods in Brazil. But the girls I stayed with were always encouraging me to try new things. So, I tried esfiha, pastel, empadão and pao de queijo. I love them. However, I tried Coxinha and I didn’t like it. Brazilian B.B.Q. is also different. In Brazil they don’t use too much spice on their food but they always put salt on the meat. Brazilian desserts have too much sugar, which is not good for me.
Geography is also very different. When I decided to come here, I thought three months would be enough to explore all Brazil. But I didn’t realize how big is Brazil! I tried to visit places as much as I could. I visited Holambra. Holambra was like little Holland. There were windmills and bridge with padlocks. I asked my friend why there looked like Holland, she told me that the first person who came to the region where is Holambra was Dutch so he/she tried to simulate this place to be like Holland. Also, I went to Rio de Janeiro. It was amazing. When I saw the view of the city I was fascinated. The city has lakes, beaches, mountains, parks, luxurious buildings and favelas, which are poor areas, at the same time. There are too many places to see in Brazil.
In addition to these new experiences, I encountered situations to solve problems. I got out of my comfort zone with my family and friends. Shopping was a challenge. I must figure what to buy. Also living with someone you don’t know is hard, too. I needed figure out solutions and carry on.
To sum up, coming here was the best decision for me in my whole life. If I hadn’t come here, I couldn’t have seen this beautiful place and couldn’t met these amazing people. I would like to advise all college students to experience an internship in a foreign country. So don’t limit yourself. Your only limit should be the sky. If you want to do something, just believe in yourself. Never be afraid of making a mistake. Be sure that our mistakes are the greatest experience for improving ourselves.
By Zuleyha Suzen
Centro Universitário de Jaguariúna