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Bsc. Filip Čejka, UCT Prague,ročník 4
About the country
Location of the place
I settle down in Viçosa which is a beautiful university city in the ocean of green hills in the Minas Gerais state. It is one of the fourteen states of Brazil.
Viçosa is a university city with almost ninety thousand inhabitants. Most of the population of this city is completed by students. Major dominant in the city is huge university campus with a large lake, countless number of palms and beautiful historical buildings.
Surroundings (possible trips, ...)
Viçosa as many other cities in Brasil has the statue of Jesus. You can hike on the hill with this statue and enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Nearby Vicosa is Ouro Preto which is a historical city build in the age of gold fever. Near far from Viçosa are beautiful waterfalls. A little bit farther away is the capital city of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte. There are a lot of museums in Belo Horizonte and near-far from Belo Horizonte is located Inhotim which is a beautiful modern art museum.
My employer was Universidade Federal de Vicosa (UFV). My boss was professor Ronaldo Perez. I managed to saw the professor only twice for the whole internship. He commissioned to a young student to be my supervisor but he was lost. He wasn't even a bachelor and he was much less skilled than me. I had to teach him the basics of process design and he couldn't even understand it. He wasn't helpful at all and he had no experience. For all these reasons I found out myself in a situation which was as really bad.
I found myself in a very difficult position. I had no supervisor I had nobody to consult my ideas. We didn't even have a lab. We had an office that was full of students who were reading papers and they were also trying to calculate some designs in excel which was highly unprofessional. Despite all these problems, I found out what is the main problem in their research. My "supervisor" was struggling with this problem for more than one year and I figure out and simulate and design the whole solution in less than three months.
Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)
The salary wasn't definitely sufficient for the whole month! It was one big fraud! I received 500 BRL per month. Housing should cost 350 BRL but in reality with the internet, water, electricity cost about 450 – 500 per month! Food in the university restaurant was very cheap about 2 BRL per lunch or dinner but it was also very monotonous. Food anywhere else was much more expensive. If you wanted to cook at home from food bought in the store you will probably pay for lunch at least 8 or 10 BRL. In a restaurant, the price can rise up to 20 BRL.
The required language for this internship was good English. My level of English skills is between B2 and C1. Nobody spoke better English than me here. Even most of the professors didn't speak English or they had a problem to speak English. At least half of the people in my office had a problem to speak or understand English. I will strongly recommend learning at least the basics of Portuguese.
Accommodation (price, who provided it)
I got quite a big room with a very small table and no chair. I had to wardrobes which were quite nice but the biggest catastrophe was a terrible mattress placed on the floor. The price should be 350 BRL according to IAESTE but I had to pay 450-500 BRL per month. The room was provided by the IAESTE volunteer.
Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organized events...)
I was picked up by the IAESTE volunteer at the bus station. It was quite nice. There were a few events organized by IAESTE but we didn't participate much in these events because we decided to rather travel with other interns.
Meeting other foreign students
We formed an amazing group with other interns from Poland, Serbia, Northen Ireland, India, and Spain. We were meeting on a daily basis. We were meeting almost every lunch and also in the evenings when we were planning trips and events. We had a really great time.
Sport and culture
There are a lot of gyms and sport opportunities in Vicosa. I enjoyed Campanus gym and also street workout-ground placed on the university campus. The swimming pool is also located in the campus and it is for free. A lot of people around the pool are playing football or other games and you can always join these people. Culture is quite poor in Vicosa, there are not really many events, concerts or festivals. I visited only the Nico Loco festival.
Food, local specialties
The basis of traditional Brasilian food is rice and beans. They eat it twice a day and after a while, you will fall in love with this unique combination. It is not a very big issue to be vegetarian in Brasil cause the biggest part of the meal is rice and beans and vegetables. I also fell in love with Brasilian fast food, normally you get different types of pastries stuffed with meat. Overall, I really enjoyed the Brasilian food and I also manage to lose some weight here.
Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic
Brasil is five time zones far from the Czech Republic. For that reason, I found out that the best time for communicating with my girlfriend, my family or my friends is during the afternoon. Sometimes there were some problems with connection but overall it wasn't such a big problem.
Recommendations for students who will go to the same place
Think twice if you want to have nice vacation you are in the right place. You are not going to work much but also you will probably not going to get some work experience. But remember everything is about your approach. I recommend you bring with you some savings cause the salary from the university will cover just accommodation.
What not to forget with you
After-sun cream, swimsuit and some gift for kind people which will help you.
Benefits of the internship
I learned to be responsible and independent.
Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country
Cooperation with ABIPE (IAESTE Brasil) was quite hard. They are normally responding to emails in a very long period of time which is obviously a problem if you don't have time and you need to solve something ASAP.
Overall experience with IAESTE
The IAESTE Czech Republic is working perfectly. They are very helpful. They are responding on email conversations in a few hours or days. Every problem I had I discuss with them and they gave me a proper opinion. I am rating them 10/10. Brazil IAESTE is a disaster. I had a problem with my last salary and nobody was really looking for the solution and I had to write an email almost every other day to get my salary.
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