Brazilian Students Succeed at NC State

Students Daniel Rodrigues and Gabriel Silva de Oliveira are current students at NC State and participants in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, an initiative of the Brazilian government to grant 100,000 Brazilian university students the opportunity to study abroad at top universities around the world. The Intensive English Program (IEP) hosted students in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program during fall 2014 and summer 2015.

During the program, students took approximately six weeks of intensive English courses before beginning their academic programming at NC State in their chosen STEM field of study. The IEP is a full-time, non-credit program where students build strong foundations in academic, cultural and technological skills that prepare them for life in and out of the American classroom. 

Rodrigues and Silva de Oliveira recently shared their experiences as international students, studying English in the IEP, and continuing on to their graduate studies at NC State.

Gabriel Silva de Oliveira:

What are you currently studying at NC State?

I’m studying for my Ph.D. in computer science.

What made you choose NC State for graduate study?

I’ve been at NC State before as an exchange student. I was impressed with the resources and the professors, and I always felt very welcome, so I decided to come back. Also, Dr. Heckman and Dr. Reeves are two people whose careers I admire deeply. They are two of my role models and having the opportunity to learn from their experience has been amazing.

As part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, you first came to NC State through the IEP. Could you tell us a little about your experience in the IEP?

At first, my experience in the IEP was scary. I had never traveled out of my country – or even out of my state – before then. I had never spoken in English with anybody, and my knowledge of the language was limited to what I had learned from music and TV shows. I arrived at the IEP where everything was different from what I’d known in life so far, and all the classes and activities were overwhelming in the beginning. After getting used to all of it, it was definitely the best experience of learning English I’ve ever had. The professors were friendly, really helpful and most importantly, caring; the tight schedule made me ready for the college course schedule, and the off-campus activities were always fun. Being in a new country can be hard, and the IEP made that experience much easier. Without the IEP, I would’ve been “out in the world” with no English experience and no place to run to when things got overwhelming. It was a place where I felt at home, and I still do every time I stop by to visit.

What is something that surprised you about studying at NC State?

I came from a huge city but from a really small college. Seeing how big NC State campuses are and how much technology it has was the first big impact it had on me. I also wasn’t expecting to encounter so much diversity, with people from all over the world, or so much acceptance for every kind of person. And of course, the amount of homework we had was surprising and terrifying.

What is your favorite thing about NC State and why?

My favorite thing about NC State is how “the pack” really feels like a pack. NC State was the first place I felt part of something. The culture of being there for each other is real here. Every time I have a problem there is someone willing to help, or someone that does not judge me for any reason. The university as a whole really cares about the students. I also love how beautiful the main campus is.

What are your favorite things to do in the Raleigh area on the weekends and during breaks?

I have two favorite things in Raleigh that unroll into several other things. My first favorite thing is going to the state parks. At Lake Johnson Park, you can bike, run, rent kayaks or pedal-boats, and even fish. At Jordan Lake State Park, you can swim. Every time I have a break, the parks are my first go-to places.

My second favorite thing is going to restaurants. Raleigh has so many types of restaurants that I’ve even had Nepali food, something I’d never even thought about trying. Barbecue places are also amazing.

Daniel Rodrigues:

What are you currently studying at NC State?

I’m studying for my master’s in mechanical engineering.

As part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, you first came to NC State through the IEP. Could you tell us a little about your experience in the IEP?

The IEP was fantastic. As my first international experience, I was afraid of not being able to adjust to the culture or even communicate. The professors and advisors were all aware of these feelings, giving us a warm welcome and introducing the culture slowly while sharing some experiences and creating openings for discussion.

What made you choose NC State for graduate study?

My exchange program (BSMP) gave me the opportunity to know my advisor and engage in research with him.

How did the IEP help you to improve your English skills?

The IEP teaches each aspect of the language in a separate class. This allowed me to understand and practice specific details of the language. In particular, I loved the pronunciation class, where we had a software that shows every phoneme of English and some examples, and it would also record you. The professor then listened to it and gave us individual insights of our pronunciation. This changed my perspective of the language.

Would you recommend the IEP to fellow Brazilian students?

Definitely. If someone is interested in learning English for a higher level of proficiency, the IEP is the right place.

If you could give advice to fellow Brazilian students who are interested in coming to NC State, what advice would you give?

Come with your mind open to learn, live a different culture, and meet people from all over the world. Once you understand the cultural differences about friendship, partying, socializing, etc., you will see how incredible it is to live here. Also, bring as much food as you can from Brazil.

The Brazil Scientific Mobility Program was sponsored by CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) and CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) and was administered by the Institute of International Education.

The content and grammar of the students’ answers have been lightly edited.