Author: Fellipe Dias de Oliveira, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil and Cork Institute of Technology
My name is Fellipe Dias de Oliveira and I am an exchange student from Brazil. I came to Ireland to study two semesters of chemical and biopharmaceutical engineering at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). My home college is Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), a public university in the state of São Paulo that is ranked as one of the top two colleges in Brazil.
At home, I study food engineering. The modules are very similar to those in chemical engineering. I am currently undertaking an internship at the Kilo Technology Laboratory of Pfizer’s Process Development Centre in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.
The Brazilian government has a scholarship programme called ‘Science Without Borders’, which supports students who wish to study abroad. Interested students are required to pass a language proficiency test and to achieve a high academic standard on their home course. Successful students can then go to a variety of countries in Western Europe.
I chose to come to Ireland because its human development index is one of the highest in Europe and it has many multi-national chemical companies. CIT attracted me due to the modules that it offers and due to the course structure. In addition, Cork city seemed to be a beautiful place. It appeared to have a slower pace of life in comparison to my home city of São Paulo, which is the biggest city in Brazil, but neither was Cork a small, sleepy town.
Studying in CIT is very different from studying in my home college. Firstly, the class sizes in UNICAMP are four times bigger than the chemical engineering classes in CIT. This aspect has a curious impact, as in small classes you learn more than in big classes per hour of class time. Furthermore, the lecturers know the name of all the students and, therefore, you feel more comfortable asking questions.
There are also more assignments in CIT than in Brazilian colleges. My course in Brazil takes five years for daytime students and six years if done at night (from 7pm to 11pm).
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Living in Ireland is very different from living in Brazil. Something that the Irish always ask about is whether I have gotten used to the weather. The weather is different, for sure, but the main differences for me are the traffic, the income distribution (there is a big difference between rich and poor people in Brazil, while here I do not see a big difference) and the lack of violence. And, of course, people drive on the left side of the road in Ireland... I almost got run over a few times in my first weeks here.
I started working in Pfizer’s Kilo Technology Laboratory in early May, but I can already say that it is an incredible place to work. The organisation of the company, the quality of the work carried out and the standard of the equipment in the laboratory where I am working are all amazing.
The skills of the team members with whom I work are most impressive. This is a good environment and I can see how much I will be able to learn through my work and from interacting with my colleagues during the three months that I will be there.
I came here to Ireland to learn as much as I could: I sought to improve my English, study, travel, learn about a new culture and hopefully go back after an internship. I can say that my time here was definitely worthwhile. I do not regret any of the time spent in Ireland and I am thankful for all the opportunities given to me. I would advise other students to become an exchange student if they get the opportunity – an exchange provides immeasurable benefits for both your personal and professional life.