Guilherme Sousa came to the University of Minnesota from Brazil so he could improve his English and study chemical engineering. We sat down with him to ask a few questions about his background, his experience with the Minnesota English Language Program (MELP), and his plans for the future.
Tell us about Brazil. How does it compare to Minnesota?
I think Brazil resembles the US and Minnesota in that it’s a very culturally diverse place. We do a lot of the same things for fun, such as going to the movies or hanging out with friends at the mall. The weather, on the other hand, is quite different between Brazil and Minnesota. For one thing, it does not get as cold in Brazil over the winter! I don’t mind the Minnesota cold, though, because once you’re inside, you warm up really fast.
What made you choose to study at the University of Minnesota?
Through the Brazilian government, I was told there were 22 countries where I could study abroad. I chose to study within the US because this country is a leader in innovation and technology development in the chemical engineering field. I knew I wanted to go to the U of M because it has a very good English program as well as one of the best chemical engineering departments in the country.
What surprised you about the U of M?
I was surprised at the size and diversity of the U—50,000 students! I met international students from countries such as Spain, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. It was great to have the opportunity to make these international friends.
One thing I really loved about the U of M was its infrastructure. There are so many different places to study on campus that I could pick a new spot to go every day of the week! And I always had friends to study or hang out with.
What did you like about MELP?
I was in MELP from the summer of 2014 to spring of 2015. During that time, I saw how receptive, friendly, and professional the MELP staff are. They were always providing activities for MELP students to take part in, and they encouraged MELP students to interact with local residents, which is helpful with you’re learning a new language.
What’s the best part about studying English?
Time and energy spent studying English pay off because it’s internationally recognized as a popular second language. Once you learn it, you can speak comfortably in native English-speaking countries like America, Canada, and England. You can also communicate with people around the world who have also learned English as a second language.
Knowing how to speak English could be important for you socially, professionally, or academically. In my case, a lot of the scientific literature I want to read is only available in English.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently I’m back in Brazil, studying chemical engineering. I’m considering getting a job here after I graduate. The English skills I learned in MELP will make me more marketable, and will likely help me to get a better job. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s next.