August 17, 2015

Studying at the University of Warwick… An Incredible Journey… (Part 1)

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Life at Warwick, by WMG Graduate Carlos Serra

Carlos Serra studied the MSc in Programme and Project Management at WMG from 2011 to 2012.
He has since gone onto be extremely successful working on a number of projects.
As the new year academic year approaches and the journey begins for a new community of WMG students, Carlos looked back to when he first came to WMG and his move from sunny Brazil to the UK.

Part 1: Breaking the Misconceptions… Life in the UK

Carlos and Suelem in Snow

“It was September 2011, and life was about to change for a young couple from Brazil…

Carlos Serra and his wife Suelem, left Brazil for “an adventure”. They left their jobs in Rio de Janeiro to cross the Atlantic in search of personal and professional development in the UK. In October, Carlos would start a Master’s Degree in Programme and Project Management at the University of Warwick, whilst Suelem planned to do a course in English language and undertake some volunteer work whilst her husband was studying.

The year ahead was one of hard work, success and much learning for both of them.

Culture Surprise...

Before he left Brazil, Carlos said he was very excited to have the chance to study with people from ten or fifteen different countries. But to his surprise, he found himself studying with more than 60 different nationalities, with representatives from almost all continents, races, religions, languages and cultures. He says he found himself very impressed with how much he had to break stereotypes in respect to any previous ideas that he had about other nationalities. From his experiences, he says to students coming to university in the UK, to

“Come with an open mind, willing to learn about different customs and behaviours and to also teach how things are in your own country, because that experience can be equally as rewarding as many of your lectures”

Morrisons Fruit and Veg

According to him, it was only through living and working with such people and experiencing first-hand these different cultures that he could truly learn and understand knowledge that television, newspapers or even books could not provide. In return, he taught a lot about Brazil to fellow students and helped to correct many misconceptions, for example, that in Brazil people do not speak Spanish, but only Portuguese.

Food, glorious food...

As food is part of the cultural experience, he told us about his ‘gastronomic’ experiences!

Carlos said, when planning his stay in the UK, many people in Brazil told him he would spend the entire year eating fish and chips - well-known as the most traditional of British foods! Moreover, people believed that he would have to spend a lot of money in order to eat properly, because fruit and vegetables would be very scarce and expensive! So before coming to the UK, Carlos and his wife were very worried about their diet and what was to come!

But, to their surprise, the perceptions could not have been more wrong!
They found the English supermarkets selling food from all over the world, often at prices more affordable than in Brazil! Most restaurants also offered food at very affordable prices. Therefore, one of Carlos's and Suelem’s hobbies was trying different dishes and drinks. Then, they suggested other people to come, and willed them to try new flavours and ingredients.

Carlos Feijoada

Besides learning and having food from different countries, and nearly putting on weight for “willing to learn too much at the time”, the couple cooked and shared with friends a Brazilian dish, Feijoada (black beans cooked with pork). It was their opportunity to share a bit of Brazil and show their cooking abilities. Those lucky friends are awaiting their next invitation to a night of Feijoada!

The cultural experiences of the couple was most definitely an important part of their experience in the UK, but what about the British people? According to the couple, another thing that people used to talk about in Brazil was that the British people are very ‘cold’. Carlos and his wife arrived in England ready to face temperatures near zero degrees and a very impersonal treatment!

It was quite the opposite! People in the UK were welcoming, friendly and warm. “British people are very sincere, sometimes even too honest for Carlos and Suelem who were so used to the way of Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro - always avoiding conflicts and trying to find solutions for every situation”. They said that when a British person says yes or no, it means yes or no, it didn’t mean “perhaps”. They said it was good to be straight forward, you knew where you stood and had realistic expectations.

The only cold came with the winter. A shopping trip for a new set of warm clothes was required to withstand low winter temperatures.

Keep posted for part 2 of the blog to find out about Carlos's thoughts on his studies and how he kept a good study-life balance...

(This blog was taken from an article written on, 2012)

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