My name is Umberto and I’m an exchange student from Brazil. When I received my acceptance letter to study abroad in an American school I was glad and at the same time full of questions. How will it be? Am I going to do well? Well, I came to Illinois Institute of Technology, in the awesome city of Chicago for a one year exchange. The main points of this exchange were to create a more solid knowledge in my major, mechanical engineering, become fluent in English and make contacts for future opportunities. Today, I can definitely say that these goals were achieved and I’m coming back to my country with a better curriculum and as a better human being. In this brief blog post I’m going to share a few of the experiences I had over my awesome stay in the United States.

During this exchange I had the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the world, and create bonds with them. While most Brazilians were friends with only Brazilians, I became friends with foreigners and of course Brazilians. I could even make a list of those countries, but my best friends are from India and Pakistan. They were my fellowships every single day, spending time just talking, exploring downtown, introducing me to their culture and food, and even just doing school work together. They helped me, a lot, to improve my English skills, even though in the beginning it was pretty hard to communicate continuously, now it’s automatic. There were days that the only moment I spoke Portuguese was when I called my mother.

My best experiences during this exchange happened because of the friends I made here. As a first example, I spent Thanksgiving with my friend’s family, who are American. They made me feel at home and I also made up my mind about the American food, which I always considered to be really bad, as the one served in our campus cafeteria. It turned out that the homemade one is really awesome. Plus, I got to play games with them as a family. I’m very glad for having that opportunity. As another example, I went to India to spend Christmas and New Year’s. I was invited by my one of my best friends from here, who is Indian, and although my parents said I was crazy for doing that, it was amazing. India is for sure an interesting country. I got to know one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Tahj Mahal, and of course try all of those delicious spicy foods. These experiences were unique and very satisfying.

It’s been more than one year since I departed from Brazil, and I’m almost flying back to my country. When someone asks me: Do you miss home? I always say: I miss my family, I miss my friends, but I know I’m coming back to see them again in some time, but what about the friends I’ve made here? When am I going to see them again? That is what makes me want to enjoy every single moment here, especially because it’s almost time to go back home. I wish I could stay for one more year, but it’s time to go. I will take these memories and people with me during my whole life.

Mechanical Engineering
At Illinois Tech during 2015/16

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Office of the Vice Provost, Student Access, Success and Diversity Initiatives.

The dream of an exchange in an American university