I participated in SUNY Oswego Global Laboratory program in Brazil. I chose Brazil because I wanted to experience something that is completely out of my comfort zone, and wanted to challenge myself mentally and academically by placing myself into an unknown environment. At first, I knew nothing about Brazil. It was intimidating – studying in a country that most believes is a dangerous place. However, after my two months in Brazil, my perception changed; anywhere you go can be dangerous, but as long as you’re careful, you’re safe wherever you go.
My biggest and only struggle was not knowing Portuguese because very few people I met in Brazil spoke English. If I had a little more knowledge in Portuguese language, then it would have made my experience better. I was struggling to understand Brazilians who did not speak English, but I was slowly adapting by learning some Portuguese words. I got to meet interesting people who made my time in Brazil more enjoyable. We were able to travel around cities in Brazil to enjoy different activities such as zip lining, kayaking and viewing landscapes. I was amazed most by their culture of music and celebrations. Brazilians would invite anyone to join their festivals to enjoy the time together. This was quite a surprising experience for me, who is a resident of New York City, where most people would not invite strangers into their homes to celebrate holidays. It was refreshing to see the differences in the Brazilian and American culture. Another different cultural aspect is that, I tend to work fast and try to finish work quickly in New York City. In Brazil, however, I was able to take my time and calmly finish my work. It was a different way to do things, but an enjoyable experience..
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While enjoying their culture, I was also able to gain more hands on experience with animals. Because I am on the pre-veterinary track, I was looking for opportunities where I could gain as much veterinary experience with animals as I possibly could. The Global Laboratory program places students to their field of interest, and I was able to work in a wildlife animal rehabilitation clinic, which is a rare opportunity to find in the metropolitan cities in the United States. I am thankful that I was able to participate in this study abroad program. I would strongly encourage other students to definitely try applying for the Global Laboratory program – especially in Brazil. It was an enriching experience both academically and personally, and I definitely want to visit Brazil again!
Winnie Chen, a Binghamton University undergraduate student who studied abroad in Brazil through SUNY Oswego’s Global Laboratory Program and a recipient of the Myers Family Scholarship