Esther Tichauer – England
Academic Internship in Brazil – Biomedical Sciences student in England, due to graduate in July 2015.
During my summer vacation of 2014 (July- August) I decided that I wanted to gain some international experience in my field, and in particular in Brazil so that I could develop my professional vocabulary in Portuguese. Since I had no idea of how things work outside of the UK in terms of employment and student internships I had to find someone who could help me out.
Marcia from Mapaei was incredibly helpful! After a Skype meeting with her, where I explained exactly what I wanted to do, the field of Biomedical Sciences I was interested in, and what I hoped to achieve through an international placement, she was able to immediately find me contact details of numerous professors at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)- the one of best academic institutions in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, located in the city of Porto Alegre.
Within one week I managed to organise an internship in a research laboratory at UFRGS, where I was given the opportunity to work on a research project where I investigated the diversity of bacteria sampled from the oral cavities of coastal serpents in Brazil. I had an amazing time out there!
My supervisor and her team of Masters and PhD students were incredibly welcoming and ever so patient with explaining certain words/ scientific terminology in Portuguese that I did not know the meaning of. Brazilian people are very friendly and warm towards foreign visitors, so in addition to having great colleagues whilst working at UFRGS, I ended up making great friends- whom I still keep in touch with to this date!At the end of my time in Porto Alegre, I felt that I acquired a range of skills and developed not only as a professional, but also as a person.
The opportunity to spend time living in a different country and learning how academic research is conducted by different people allowed me to learn a lot of new things about myself and discover skills I never imagined I could have before!I would definitely recommend spending some time abroad (especially in Brazil) to anyone, whether attending lessons or undertaking a student internship- there will be plenty of professional skills to develop that will significantly strengthen your CV. If given the opportunity I would certainly do this again!
Many thanks to the team at Mapaei- they deserve a lot of credit for helping me find such an incredible supervisor who kindly accepted me as a temporary member of her research group and for helping me understand all the bureaucracy that is involved when international students undertake placements in Brazil!”