Imagine studying for a year away from your family and friends. Sounds difficult but manageable right? Now imagine that situation but in a completely different country from your own, thousands of miles from your friends and family. Oh, and you don’t speak the native language at all. That’s essentially the experience 21 Brazilian students had when they decided to take part in a government program called Science Without Borders.
Science Without Borders, or sometimes called Brazil Mobility Science Program, is a project that pays to send Brazilians students to different countries to take courses in their respective field of study. They can choose from a number of countries and submit their transcripts to universities for consideration. The program covers travels costs, both to and from the university, as well as all expenses while studying abroad. This includes housing, meal plans and even a monthly stipend.
In August of last year, the first group of 21 students from all over Brazil came to Mercer to study for a year in their respective fields through Science Without Borders. In addition to being introduced to an entirely new country with a drastically different culture, they were taking classes in English after just learning how to speak the language themselves. Larissa Silva said, “ English was the worst part. Cause many people came here saying ‘Hello’ ‘Thank you’ that’s it.” Silva had studied English for 7 years in Brazil but found herself surprisingly overwhelmed by it. “It is much easier to learn here,” said Janilson Leitte, “You’re forced to talk in English.” It was difficult learning a new language in such a short time, then taking classes and trying to comprehend intense amounts of information in that new language.
Silva and Leitte both agreed that the culture shock and stresses of the program would have been even harder had it not been for the bond their group of 21 formed. Each student came from a different school in various parts of Brazil. Each one arrived alone in a new country. “That’s why we became a family,” said Silva. “We were all alone in the same situation, having the same kinds of problems.” The group is heading back to Brazil at the end of this semester, and it’s their last opportunity to live so close to each other. Most are separated by hours of travel. They truly have formed a family through their experience here. “We’re all sisters and brothers, you can say that,” said Silva.
The group will not only be separating from each other when they leave Mercer in December but also all the other friends they’ve made in their time here. “It’s really hard,” Silva said, “Because we are leaving us, but we’re still in Brazil, we do not know when we’re coming back to America to see our friends here.” On her time at Mercer, Silva explained that while she might not see herself living here again, she will most certainly be back to visit and take in all the sites she didn’t get to see this time around. She fondly described her time at Mercer and said she has thoroughly enjoyed it.