So, someone has been asking for a post about my university here in Brazil, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), and my experience so far. This is the third week of classes and I think I’m ready to share my hardly processed first expressions with you.
First some basic information: In Norway I study Portuguese language and linguistics at the University of Oslo (UiO). I just started my third and last year of my Bachelor’s degree, which means that I will finish here at USP in December (if everything works out the way I hope). My faculty at UiO is Humanities (HF), but here it’s Philosophy, Languages, Social Science and Humanities (FFLCH), so whenever I talk about my faculty that means FFLCH (Brazilians love abbreviations if you were wondering).
My first meeting with USP was great. The international office arranged a welcome meeting with all the international students that were going to study at the faculty. When we arrived we got our student cards and cards for the university’s shuttle bus before the actual meeting started. First we had to represent ourselves in front of everyone and I thought it was a good idea because it’s interesting to know where people are from even though I hardly remembered any names or nationalities afterwards. At least I made one friend (Jasmine, that’s you!). The rest of the meeting was about all the administrative stuff that we have to do during our first couple of weeks at the university, but also about sports teams that we can join and other extracurricular activities.
After the meeting some Brazilian students that had already been on exchange came to show us around and then have lunch together. They were really great and friendly and they helped us a lot. We had all gotten coupons to have lunch for free at the university canteen called Bandejão and the food was pretty good. I had beans, rice, salad and soy plus an orange for dessert, and the normal price for that is 1,90 reais/0,43 euros/4,13 kroner.
From day two we were pretty much left to ourselves. Of course we can ask the international office for help whenever we want, but there aren’t any more meetings or things like that. I’m pretty happy about that as I have enough to do with all my classes and other new things to understand and get used to, for example getting my Brazilian ID number which is a pretty complicated process. I think I’ll finally get to do the final step tomorrow, but you never know with all this bureaucracy…
The subjects that I take here are phonetics, syntax, phonology, Brazilian literature and translation from English to Portuguese. As you can see my main focus this semester is linguistics and I love it! Haha, I’m the biggest nerd, but I really enjoy all the systems that can be found in languages. The main reason I love linguistics more now than before is because of the great professors that teach us here. They’re all extremely interested and enthusiastic about their areas of study, which is key to being a good teacher if you ask me. They’re also very open for questions and they care about the student’s learning. By that I mean that they ask many times during every class if we understand and they tell us to ask questions all the time. Even though the classes here are bigger I feel more cared for by the professors than I ever did in Norway.
The other students here are mostly Brazilian, but there are some other exchange students as well, as I mentioned when writing about the first day. I met two girls from Italy and Germany that day and I’ve been hanging out with them ever since. Of course I’ve talked to some people in the classes I’m taking as well, but it’s hard to get to know people when you only have one class with them once or twice a week. Most people go home after class because at my faculty we only have classes between 8 am and 12 pm and 7.30 pm and 11 pm. Staying on campus waiting for 7,5 hours isn’t the greatest thing… It’s only been 3 weeks, so maybe this will get better?! At least I will keep trying to talk to people and get to know some of them a little more.
The campus is HUGE and there are shuttle buses that circulate all over campus and all the way to the metro. Luckily the metro is only about 10 minutes from my faculty, so when I’m running late in the morning I don’t have to worry, haha! Campus is also very green and there are trees and lawns everywhere. The buildings of my faculty are quite old and well-used, but all the classrooms have air condition or fans (it can be up to 35 degrees celsius here) and the computer rooms seem very modern (I haven’t used the computers yet, but they’re probably good, but not very fast as all other university computer room computers, right?).
The biggest differences between Norwegian and Brazilian universities, in my opinion, are the attendance and the «homework». In Norway we can usually come and go as we want, but here you have to attend 70% of the classes. For every class we have «homework» which isn’t exactly homework, but at the end of every class the professors tell us what they will talk about next class and which articles we should read if we want to be prepared for that. In Norway we can check the list of books and articles online and then read them whenever we want to. No one will come and tell you what to do at what time and for what class. I think that Brazilian universities are more like Norwegian schools than Norwegian universities because in Norwegian universities we are left to ourselves and no one cares if you don’t pass. In Brazilian universities you are taken cared of and pushed to keep studying throughout the semester. It’s harder to get to the point where you have one month left for the exams and you haven’t read anything because here you’re constantly reminded that you should study and read the articles and books.
Ok, so all in all I’m quite happy with everything here so far. I’m still getting used to things and everyday I feel extremely tired, but that’s just because I’m still adjusting to everything, not just university, but food, temperature, language, new people etc.