Brazilians studying science, more at UW-L

Students from Brazil discuss with another international student at a picnic table outside on UW-L grounds

Livia de Oliveira Souza, left, is from Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Minas Gerais, Brazil and Bruna Boff, right, is from Feevale, a university in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. They converse with other international students in UW-L’s ELS program.

Cold weather and daily homework assignments are big adjustments for Brazilian students who arrived at UW-La Crosse last spring.

Through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, Bruna Boff and Livia de Oliveira Souza are studying at UW-L with 13 other Brazilian students. The program is part of the Brazilian government’s effort to grant 100,000 scholarships to the best students from the South American country to study abroad at the world’s top universities. The program aims to widen the academic and research exchange between the U.S. and Brazil.

At UW-L, the Brazilians are learning English and studying in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. They will return home with a U.S. university on their resume — a notable achievement, they agree. U.S. universities and research happening there, have a strong reputation in other parts of the world, notes de Oliveira Souza. “It’s like a dream for me to live and study here,” she adds.

Two students from Brazil discuss at picnic table outside at UW-L.

Brazilian students Livia de Oliveira Souza, left, and Bruna Boff say they have been watching the World Cup while at UW-La Crosse, including Brazil’s recent 7-1 loss to Germany. “Everyone was surprised,” says Boff. “We knew that it would be hard, but not this way! It was ridiculous.”

Boff and de Oliveira Souza are in English as a Second Language classes this summer and plan to start biomedical science classes in fall. They say UW-L offers science courses — like “Biology of Cancer” — not offered back home. Adjusting to the large amount of work outside of class at UW-L has been challenging and rewarding, they say.

“I think I will learn many things I couldn’t learn in Brazil,” says Boff.

Outside the classroom they are learning skills too. It is typical in Brazil, they say, for students to attend a higher education institution near home. At UW-L they’ve had to adapt to living independently and in a new culture. Yet, they’ve learned to build relationships on UW-L’s international campus that welcomes students from more than 40 countries. And they are learning more about their home country. The 15 students come from different parts of Brazil, each with different cultures and accents.

The two have been impressed with UW-L resources. The library, residence halls, Recreational Eagle Center and classrooms with state-of-the-art technology improve the experience, they say.

They’ve also enjoyed life off campus.

“I really like La Crosse, the city, because it’s small,” says Boff. “The people are friendly and are always ready to help us.”

The two will leave in August 2015 after 18 months. With their academic studies complete, they plan to pursue internships in summer 2015 in the U.S. before returning home.