Federal University of Juiz de Fora (Brazil) 2009 – USA – Colorado Springs – Bárbara Ferrara
I believe my exchange program started from the moment I knew that I had been approved in the competitive selection process. There were many documents to get and many questions to clear up too. But I was able to count on the International Relations Offices from both UFJF and CC.
I was very well received at CC, but I was disappointed to discover that my permanent room would be shared with another girl and that it was in the Russian House, where the intention was to be immersed in the Russian language and culture. My disappointment was due to the fact that I wanted to be immersed in the English language and in American culture. This was solved after meetings with the person responsible for student housing.
We had one week of orientation, during which we became better acquainted with the other international students and with those responsible for the exchange program. Two days before classes started, I discovered that I was not registered for the classes that I wanted to take, because when we registered we had received an incorrect link. CC designates a Counselor Professor for each of the students, and it was my counsellor that helped me solve this problem. But I wasn’t able to register for the courses I wanted. That was my second (and last) big disappointment during the time I spent in the USA.
My first course was from the Political Sciences program, related to environmental policies. I believe this was very interesting because it’s a course that I wouldn’t have taken in Brazil.
The second course was Cell Biology. It is a course that I already had taken at UFJF, but I decided to take it again in order to have the experience of working in a lab in a different country. This was also the reason why I chose Genetics as my third course. The fourth and last was a course in which we studied the ecology of the region in which the university is located. For me, it was very interesting, because the climate, vegetation and fauna are unique and completely different from what we find in Brazil.
Another thing that greatly enriched my exchange was being in contact with an American family. I was able to take part in typical American celebrations, such as the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas. They ended up becoming like a second family to me, helping and supporting me with any issue that I needed.
In addition to these factors, the way the courses are taught at CC gave me a unique experience. Each block lasts 18 days and this makes learning easier because you can concentrate on only one subject. But, on the other hand, it makes it more difficult to make friends, since you only stay for a short time with the same students. The 4-day intervals between blocks are opportunities to travel. I travelled in all of them and was able to get to know more about the country that received me so well and gave me unique opportunities.