Student: New York University
Gui Bueno, a second-semester grad student from São Paulo, Brazil, is enrolled in the digital media design for learning program at New York University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in media studies from the University of Campinas in his native Brazil. During undergrad, he spent a semester abroad at NYU, and now he’s back in the U.S. Gui, 23, is a recipient of the prestigious Brazil Scientific Mobility scholarship. During his winter break, he met with WES Student Advisor to share his thoughts on living and studying in a new country.
WES Student Advisor: What are some differences between universities in Brazil and the U.S.?
Gui Bueno: During my entire undergraduate studies in Brazil, I only met two or three international students, whereas here international students are everywhere, especially in big cities like New York. Since this is such a diverse learning environment, sometimes it’s hard to identity who is an international student and what it means to be an international student.
Another thing is that the rules here are stricter – deadlines are deadlines. In terms of the learning style, it was a very positive change. In Brazil, I had four-hour, lecture-style courses with lots of people. That’s pretty tough. Here is completely the opposite – you probably spend an hour in class with your professors and peers, and you do a lot of work before and after the class by yourself. It’s much more productive to be in a small class for a short period of time. Although students spend a lot of time sitting in lectures in Brazil, the ironic thing is that we do not have a lot of assignments – the workload is way heavier here. You have so many projects and deadlines all time.
Digital media design for learning sounds like an interesting program. Tell us about what you’re studying.
Let’s break it down. Digital media design – we’re been trained to design for digital media, mainly mobile technology and online platforms. But it’s not a general design course – it’s a design course that focuses entirely on education. For example, how do you prepare a course that’s gonna be transmitted online? How do you convey specific content through digital platforms? It may sound very new, but it’s been there for a long time at [NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development].
What advice do you have for international students who are still working on their English?
We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we’re studying abroad and trying to speak another language. Most people here are going to be very understanding when you are learning their language. They see our efforts to speak a foreign language. Just be more patient with yourself – things will get better as time goes by.
What advice do you have for students living in a big city like New York?
Force yourself to get out of your apartment whenever you can, understanding that the New York City experience is more than just going out for fun. Every trip you have on the subway is an important experience. Reflect on what’s happening around you all the time. Yes, going to museums and parks is definitely a great way to explore the city. But when you get a cup of coffee from Starbucks, or just when you’re walking to class – those are also moments when you can observe how the city works.
Reflect on your study abroad experiences so far.
One thing I’ve realized is that it’s hard to be the ambassador of your country and your culture. I get a lot of questions like, “What is Brazil like?” Or “What are people in Brazil like?” That puts me in a delicate position. So I usually share my own perspectives about Brazil, and I will add something like, “My answer is very limited since Brazil is such a diverse country and there are many realities.” I don’t want to oversimplify my country.
Living abroad has definitely helped me gain perspective. When you start living abroad and meeting people from different cultures, you start realizing nothing is normal. Normal is a really limited concept; what’s normal to me may not sound normal to you. For example, waking up and drinking a glass of milk with coffee and eating bread with butter – for me, that’s a normal breakfast. That’s how I grew up and my parents grew up. After I got here, breakfast became very different; it includes bacons, eggs, waffles… lots of different stuff. So that’s normal here. I started mixing those different habits from different cultures and started taking what I think is the best. So I’m still pretty much the same Brazilian person with the same Brazilian styles, but I started eating eggs every morning; that’s a little bit of American influence that’s inside me. That’s the magic that happens when you start travelling. When you live abroad, you start mixing cultures and taking what’s best for you.
This interview has been edited and condensed.