The best memories from Brno
For two months, Brazilian students Brenda Carolina Bernert and Júlia Ribeirete de Souza Ferreira (both Universidade Federal do Paraná) were hosted by the Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Environmental Protection. Their internship was a part of the Czech-Brazilian UNIGOU Exchange Program.
What was the content of your internship? How different was it from your studies in Brazil?
Brenda: On my internship, I participated in the research carried out in the ecotoxicology laboratory, studying and learning various topics related to the areas of environmental impacts. It was very interesting to know and have the experience in a University so far from Brazil, getting to know new equipment in the laboratories and new cultures within the university itself.
Júlia: The internship took place mostly in the laboratory of ecotoxicology and the research focused on the impact of microplastic particles on aquatic and soil organisms. More specifically, I’ve studied the effects that microplastic particles can cause in aquatic organisms, based on Daphnia magna reproduction test (test nº 211 of OECD), regarding its reproduction potential depending on the exposure to polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB) particles.
The opportunity to study at a university abroad was memorable. I was able to get to know different approaches, different technologies, the university itself, its structure, how it works, and also Czech culture. Besides that, it was a different experience as we developed everything in the laboratory, so the activities were more practical than theoretical.
Will you use any of what you have learned in your further studies?
B: I will use a lot of things I learned in my internship, because the subjects studied are extremely important in my area of professional activity and it was a very significant experience to understand how to monitor these environmental impacts.
J: For sure the knowledge acquired during my research will be substantial to my further studies, professional and also personal life. The subject is extremely important and current. I study civil engineering and there is a whole field of study dedicated to this area in my course, which I really like and intend to pursue as a career.
Not only this, but also the way this experience provided me the opportunity to practice English on a daily basis, to get immersed in another and completely different culture. Besides that, I grew up a lot as a human being, living far from home and from my family. It brought me a lot of personal growth.
What interested you most during the internship, both at the faculty and in the Czech Republic in general?
B: The most interesting experience in the exchange is definitely the contact with new cultures, both in the Czech Republic and with other exchange students. I learned a lot about different cultures and experienced everyday life in the Czech Republic.
J: At the faculty it was the opportunity of doing the research in a different language and being able to study and learn new things in a university abroad. In Czech Republic in general, I loved to learn about its culture, places, food and people. Besides that, to learn about the culture of other countries by the friendships with students from all around the world.
Have you tried any traditional Czech food? Did you enjoy it?
B: Yes, I tried traditional Czech food in some restaurants in Brno and in Prague and our teachers, who were very dear to me, brought us different typical foods. I tried some cheese, snacks, meats, candies and chocolates. Some foods I felt the seasoning very different from anything I had ever tasted and others I loved and even brought to Brazil!
J: Yes, I’ve tried some of them either in the canteen, restaurants or the ones my professors introduced me to. Some of them I liked a lot, some of them were not my favorites. To be more specific, I’ve tried some Czech cheese, some sweets baked by university colleagues which were amazing, some supermarket typical sweets like Banány which I love, I’ve also tried Kofola, which is not my favorite, to be honest, and of course, Czech beer. I’ve tried svíčková na smetaně, it was one of my favorites. I loved the mix of the salty food and the whipped cream and cranberry.
I know that you also travelled, which places did you manage to visit during your almost two-month stay?
B: During the two months, I managed to visit several cities in countries close to the Czech Republic, such as Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Berlin. And as soon as the exchange ended, I visited Paris, Rome, London and Lisbon. It was a really enriching experience, in which I could experience a bit of each culture.
J: I’ve managed to visit Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Berlin, Budapest and of course Brno during the two months. I was also able to travel a little bit more after the end of the research, when I was able to go to Paris, Amsterdam, visit my family in a small city in Germany, London and Lisbon.
And have you noticed any differences between individual European nations?
B: Yes, there are big differences in all European nations, each country with its unique culture and way of living and expressing itself differently. It is very interesting to be able to identify all the singularities of each country and culture, and try the taste of each typical food.
J: I’ve noticed a lot of differences mostly when you talk about eastern and western European countries, either in their culture, language, prices of things, food. I loved the opportunity to visit all of these places and learn about their singularities and I loved all of them.
Where did you like it the most?
B: I really love Prague, I think it is one of my favorite places in Europe, but I enjoyed all the cities I had the opportunity to visit.
J: My favorite place in Europe was Prague! It was the first one I was able to visit in Europe when I arrived, so it was magical, but not only because of that, but because every single place I’ve been in Prague is amazing. However, Brno gave me the best memories I will never forget about, and it was where the biggest dream of my life came true, which was to study abroad and have all the experiences that came with it.
What left the strongest impression on you?
B: The strongest impression after the exchange was that people’s everyday culture is so different and interesting to learn.
J: The thing that impressed me the most was the opportunity to learn about different cultures, to get to know new places and people.
Would you like to visit Brno again?
B: Yes, in the future I would love to visit Brno again and remember all the moments I experienced in the city.
J: Definitely! I have a huge love for Brno, and I feel like it is a home for me now too. I want to visit Brno again and I want to show the city to my family someday. I also think about coming back again for further studies.
The interview was conducted by Ing. Petra Procházková.