Marilia came from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), a public university located in São Carlos. The university hosts 26 000 students on its campus, when the population of São Carlos is around 245 000 inhabitants. We can compare it to the UGA and Grenoble in a smaller size. There, she was studying materials science and engineering.
She wanted to do a year abroad to discover a new culture and to gain new technical skills. Coming here was the only opportunity that she had to do a masters abroad and to obtain a double degree.
To come here, she had to learn the language first. She started to learn French doing 2 hours of classes per week for a year. It allowed her to have a B1 level. And from a French student perspective, she and all of her fellow Brazilian students who came here had a very good French level and I think we were all impressed to see them adapt so quickly.
The fact that she came here with other Brazilians student was a big plus. They could help each other settle in and not be overwhelmed by the administrative procedure and the distance from their home. To find lodging, they were helped by Polytech to complete all the procedure with the CROUS.
Then the classes started. At first it was a little difficult to integrate with us, the French student. The language barrier still being quite difficult to overcome, the French that they had learnt was quite different to the one that we use to communicate daily. Especially us, younger people. But with time, they adapted and they felt well integrated in the class.
The first semester was the hardest for them. It was also the hardest for us, as this is usually the hardest semester in MAT. The schedule was also a lot busier than what they were used to. With the added concentration effort that they had to make in order to understand French, it was quite hard at first. The second semester was easier and since Marilia already had done well in the first one, it was less stressful.
About Grenoble, she found it to be great. The mountains are great and plenty of activities are available. She found it very dynamic all year long. The food is also a big plus.
She also had plenty of time to travel across Europe with her Brazilian mates, which was great since you don’t travel across continents very often. Their first trip was to Iceland during the Toussaint break of 2018. She has visited 11 countries in total.
In summary, she loved it here in Grenoble. We all know how discovering a new culture is always very enriching. But she can say that this experience has changed her life for good, because of all the friendships that she created here but also with the new opportunities that this has given her career-wise. Finally, she has to finish her studies in Brazil starting in August but she plans to come back to live here in 2021.