Brasileiros ride ticket to their success

Government grants students chance to embrace NYC

Tiana Brownie, Contributing Writer

Bianca Alcantra didn’t know what she wanted to do as a career. Eventually she chose graphic design after taking the Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (ENEM). In Brazil, the ENEM test is considered the “Brazilian version” of the SAT.

“We have a program in Brazil called Science Without Borders,” Alcantra said. “The government pays for us to come here [to St. John’s University] to learn different sciences. They give us a monthly stipend for food, our University tuition is paid for and we get to live in a foreign country for a year,” she said.

Alcantara is a sophomore from Brazil studying graphic design at St. John’s on this program completely paid for by the government.

She is one of the many Brazilian exchange students that took on this opportunity.

“The goal for when we come back is to share the different knowledge we’ve learned to other Brazilian students,” Alcantra said.

“The government is focusing on engineering and different science studies,” she said. “Students can not only choose from South American countries and the United States, but also from the rest of the world like Asia and Europe.”

According to Alcantra, every student in college can apply, but only the ones who meet certain criteria are chosen. Choices are also based on scholastic performance.

“I got into this program after they opened the list of the countries to students,” Alcantra said.

“You can choose a country then send a letter with your grades, why you’d like to go and where you’d like to go, to the government.  The government then looks at your ENEM grades and your university acceptance letter,” she said.

Alcantra has been to New York in 2010 and she loved it. Although it is a different experience coming as a tourist and as a student, she still enjoys the city.

“Coming here as a student hasn’t been difficult because I can find everything I need,” she said. “In Henley, I have a kitchen where I can cook Brazilian food and a couch, so it feels like home. I do miss my family but I think that it is necessary for me to get out of Brazil to learn.”

As every person coming from a completely different place, Alcantra and her fellow Brazilian friends experienced a culture shock.

“It’s really different from Brazil,” she said. “We have a thing, where we talk to everybody. In the street, we stop and talk to people we don’t know, then suddenly we are friends and when we meet again we hug each other like we have known each other forever. When you’re in class here no one talks to you at all.”

In Brazil, design as a whole is something fairly new.

It has been around for about 50 years. However, it is something that is growing really fast.

“I wanted to learn things here in the United States that I wouldn’t be able to learn now [in Brazil],” she said.

Alcantra wants to take what she learns during her journey here and apply it back home in Brazil.

“I want to use the information to further myself and share the techniques I’ve learned with the rest of Brazil,” she said.  “For example, in Brazil we don’t do a lot of handwork before doing the graphics on the computer.”

“It’s a new kind of approach for me, because in Brazil we go straight to the graphics on the computer,” Alcantra said. “I would like to bring that technique of doing handwork back to Brazil.”

The reputation that the St. John’s program has is known to those students who are still in Brazil.

In Alcantra’s case, for example, she took what her friend had to say seriously.

“I choose St. John’s because I had a friend who came here last year and said he loved St. John’s,” she said.

“He said it was a great place to study graphic design and that he really enjoyed the experience. So far, I am enjoying myself too.”