Since I was a child, I always thought about a trip in Europe as a dream, something that could never happen. But in the last months, everything has changed.
Until last year, I didn´t know the UNIGOU program and I also couldn´t see any possibility to know the Czech Republic. When i was finally introduced to the program, I knew that I was face to face to the a opportunity that was able to change completely the way I see the world.
I was accepted for working in an MemBrain Research Centre's internship, in the small town of Straz pod Ralskem. There were many questions, and I didn't know what to expect about that. The UNIGOU organization made everything easier by introducing me to the Czech culture, and suddenly, those strange habits, that strange language and that hard cold become a part of my life.
How could I possibly forget about those beautiful cities that I've met? How to forget how was magestic the Prague night, with all those spears growing up to the sky, from the Charles Bridge, or, as they say, the Karluv Most? How was to get in an old castle, in front of the throne where Charles, the Fourth, used to sit, and to find out that the ancient people believed that a crocodile's head was a dragon?
In Czech I was introduced to a rich culture and a proud people. It wasn´t always easy for me to be far from my family, far from my country, in a cold weather that sometimes made me think I would freeze. But now, a couple months later, I look behind and all I see was how much I grew since I took that flight to Europe.
In MemBrain I had my first professional experience in an environment of innovation and study. With all those great equipment, and of course, my supervisor Marie Novotná, and also the analitycal chemistry that used to work with us, Zdenek Marusak, I learned about the Materials Science and the Materials Engineering in a way that I could never imagine. With patience they tought me about many pratical principles about those sciences and also gave me the opportunity to handle very sofisticated equipments.I have also to give special thanks to my colegues Iva, Krystina, Arthur and Jaroslav, who always helped me and had many interesting conversations. And, off course, those great room mates, Aline and Jonatha, who were always there when I needed, who travelled with me, and helped me in a moment when I've got sick. Those great people made everything easier and without them, this experience wouldn't be great as it was.
When I was going back to Brazil, and I saw all those pictures, I couldn't believe it was me there. And I realized how much I lived and how great it was to see the world from the eyes of this great people, and all I wanted to do was to say Na Zdraví and celebrate once again with them.
Na shledanou, Czech Republic! I promise we will meet each other again
UNICAMP - Membrain Research Center
UFRJ - University of West Bohemia in Pilsen
I would truly recommend other students to participate in the UNIGOU program. In two months, not only did I get to contribute to a project relevant to my graduation course, but I also learned new languages and met people from different cultures.
My life in Pilsen was surrounded by local friends and also many students from all over the world. Also, the city was awarded the title of Capital of Culture in 2015 and the winter was full of cultural events including video mappings, light festival, circus and traditional food. I have also travelled a lot to Prague for parties and concerts and I must confess I fell in love for both cities.
This was not my first experience abroad, but it was definitely the best! There is something magical about the Czech Republic that I can not precisely describe. It makes me want to go back, not only for a visit. If I can, I will make sure to live there again in the future!
And a little bit in detail:
The winter - being in Europe in the winter is great! It was magic to be friends with people by walking in the streets and joining a snowball fight. Still, some say that in the summer it might be even better. I confess I wish I could enjoy summer walks in the riverside.
The team - the UNIGOU team was always helpful and nice. I have lost my passport and they helped me finding it, I have injured my knee and they arranged a reimbursement for a ski trip. They were the perfect combination of professionalism and kindness at the same time.
Plzeň - the city is of perfect size. Not so big, not so small. I bumped with people I know in the trams on a daily basis. It is also very near Prague, so it was cheap and quick to catch concerts and meet friends there. It's worth mentioning it's not only a beer city, it is also very technological. There are also great restaurants and pubs, a nice zoo and the central square is amazingly beautiful! It was also good for a better immersion in Czech language. Unlike Prague, it was really necessary to use some Czech in the city!
The dorm - my dorm in Plzen was great! The room was fit, the bathroom was good (better than the dorms I got to know in Prague) and there was a pub in the first floor! Not to mention a student restaurant with cheap meals! Most of the students in the dorm were locals. I have made Czech and Slovak friends in the pub!
Západočeská Univerzita - The university was very big! It was in the other side of the city but very quick to reach by tram. There was a nice student restaurant with 8 different cheap meals every day, the buildings were very nice and there was a huge supermarket with some shops and fast foods.
Nové technologie - výzkumné centrum - the research centre was modern and well equipped. There was a nice pre-wedding party with beer and food in the conference room and I could get to know many other researchers in the building. The coffee machine also had great coffee!
My supervisor - David was very interested in the exchange experience. He taught me a lot about czech language and culture and I could also share many curiosities about Brazil. He helped me getting to know the city and was very supportive when I had complications with my knee. He let me conduct the development of the project and was very helpful whenever I got stuck. He is a natural great supervisor!
ESN Plzeň - The Erasmus Students Network helped me have a true exchange student experience! They held a welcome dinner, trips, parties and assigned a local buddy to all students. I have also made many friends on such events!
UFRJ - Technical University in Liberec
The opportunity of spending the Brazilian summer in the middle of the Czech Republic snow was an amazing adventure and life-changing experience.
Adventure since the moment I stepped in Liberec and the snow came to say hello, passing through the first bus ride alone and finishing with that “exotic” food at the menza (student canteen).
Life-changing experience that opened the doors of a Czech university to learn and work with subjects in my area that were unknown for me. The opportunity to meet people from parts of the globe I could have never imagined, like Kazakhstan.
All UNIGOU people were very kind since the first contacts on Skype through all the moments in the Czech Republic. Helping and supporting in the first weeks until the last day. UNIGOU coordinators were always available and I just have to say thank you for them.
I went to Technical University of Liberec (TUL), where I researched about geopolymer based composites in the Center for Nanomaterials, Advanced Technologies and Innovation under supervision of Mr. Eng. Vladimír Kovačič. Despite some communication difficulties because of the language, I have nothing to say against TUL. The infrastructure was very good, new buildings and nice people. We had all the freedom to do our work, use materials and equipment of the lab. Menza was a challenge everyday only because the menu was in Czech, and we never knew what we would eat, but the food was good. The dormitories were new, built in 2009, with nice rooms and really close to the university. I was lucky to have so nice roommates.
Liberec was an outstanding city, nice and cheap PUBs, hockey games (Go, Tigers!) and skiing facilities. Again, the only difficulty was the language barrier, but I am sure it was a nice thing, even bringing a little desperation in the beginning. Overcoming it was a reason to be even prouder. If I have the chance, I will return to Czech for a new research, a masters or only to remember to good time I had there.
UNICAMP - Charles University in Prague
It was my first time in Europe and the expectations were high. Are the Europeans really cold people? What if they don't like me? I think my English is not so good! How am I going to communicate? What about the research project, am I going to be able to do it? And the winter, I hate cold weather, will I survive? All these questions came to my mind days before going to the Czech Republic. Some of them were solved in the first day when I was really well received by my Czech roommates. In the day after, I knew my colleges in the laboratory and I learned more about my project. Then all my fears went away, I realized that everything just depended on me.
If I chose to do a great job in the lab, to go out and meet new people, I would do it. If I chose not to work so hard, to be afraid, not to talk and not to make friends, I would do it. Of course I chose the first option and I'm really happy about my stay in Czech Republic because I think I did what I was supposed to do.
Unfortunately my roommates were in exam time, so they needed to study hard almost all the period when I was there. But I could meet some nice people, both Czech and foreigners that help me to have great days, great beer experience!
Prague is an amazing city where you can have history, good food, good beer, parties, more calm places, and everything not expensive. Of course, if you go out every day you will spend more if you are not used to do it. But if you are in Prague, you should enjoy every minute.
For me, what is important and what I like most is to meet new people. It does not matter if I am in the most beautiful place in the world, if I'm not with great people it's not the same! So that's what I did. I didn't care if my English was not perfect, I was there to practice. The most difficult step was the first one. So just start and then you realize that it was not so hard.
About the project, I worked with a different subject then I would like to continue studying in Brazil, however it was not a reason to dislike it but to be more interested! I'm also satisfied with my work there and I hope they can write some article with my results.
About the winter, yes, it was hard! Although they said it was really soft winter, for me it was so cold! But just buy some good coat and you can handle it.
Summarizing, we can do whatever we want! For the next students, I advise to enjoy every single minute and to learn with every experience and every person. It sounds obvious but many people don't do it. Everything depends on you, so work hard, party hard, do good things and you will be rewarded with good experience!
USP - Czech Technical University
My experience in Prague was the best thing I could do after my graduation studies. It was really good for completing my knowledge in Environmental Engineering, as I could do a lot of practical work and visit experimental catchments even in the winter. Also, I could learn about how a research is lead in an international university, which I think will be helpful to pursue a Masters abroad and to improve my CV.
The UNIGOU program was better than I ever could expect, because they were really helpful when you arrive to your city in Czech Republic, helping with any arrangements you need, both in school or in dorms. They were also great in arranging group trips around Czech and small social events during the weeks.
One thing that I really liked about Czech is their culture, which is so different and full of amazing things and new stuff to learn, that any Brazilian couldn't know without being there. The language is different of anything you have ever heard but also interesting when you start to learn the first words. Prague is a beautiful place and offers a lot of things to do, it is a very live city. And also not expensive to live, when compared to others European cities, what makes it much more attractive. Besides all these, Czech people can be very friendly with you and sometimes they are really excited to have Brazilians in their labs, what makes you feel welcome there. I also had the chance to meet other Erasmus students from a lot of nationalities and now I can say I have friends all around the world.
Don't hesitate to join this program, for me it was full of benefits and the only thing I regret is that I could only stay for two months!
Living in Prague was an amazing experience! The level of infrastructure at the university and the support given by the teachers were the best i could have asked for.
Many face the problem of being alone and sometimes it may take some of your good mood away, but that is when the guys from UNIGOu come in handy (as well as many other times), the weekly meetings were a good point of balance between working hard and going out at night. These meetings were always amazingly fun!
If you wanna work hard, have fun and make new friends! You just uniGOu to Prague. Ahoj!
UFSC - Czech Technical University
USP - Charles University in Prague
UNICAMP - University of Economics in Prague
I have no words to describe how much the UNIGOU program added in my life. In this program, I had the opportunity to work for two months in a major center of Economics studies of the Czech Republic, the University of Economics in Prague.
What interested me a lot in the program since the beggining is that they offer opportunities for various areas of knowledge, such as engineering, natural sciences, economics and humanities, among many others. This is very important because it shows that they do not exclude any course, if the project interests you, you can try.
My experience with the program taught me many things. The UNIGOU Program provides to people the kind of experience that we do not expect to have in life so soon. Initially, I have to admit that I was a little scared to try an exchange program outside the 'standard places' that people usually go, but now I can say for sure that this program it is the kind of opportunity that makes you grow a lot as a person and learn how to 'think outside the box' (it may sound cliché, but it is true).
Academically, the program gives you the opportunity to develop your skills in your field of study, working in important research centers in the Czech Republic. Professionally, you develop your activities with a professor/researcher, which teaches you a lot how to deal with a foreign supervisor, since we learn how to behave in another work culture, in which we are not used to face in Brazil. Also, you have the chance to live for a while in a extremely beautiful country with a very different culture (and language!). For me this is very nice, because you can have the chance to be a local resident, and have experiences that you will never have as a tourist.
Furthermore, the UNIGOU coordinators are lovely, helpful and they really care about your stay in the country.
Overall, I certainly recomend this program for everyone who is looking for an opportuninity to do things differently than the normal and to grow as a person and as a professional.
Developing a project and being a part of the oldest Czech university was an unforgettable academic experience that every scholar would like to have, even for a short period. It was an honour to work within the UNESCO Laboratory of Environmental Electrochemistry at Charles University in Prague.
Prague itself is an amazing city and I fell in love with it right away. So it was not difficult to adapt to the new reality, like the language barrier, what actually encouraged me to study Czech, and the cold winter, which was not so harsh this year, but it was easy to get used to, even for a Brazilian who likes summer and beach:)
I can say that the Czech Republic is an interesting country that preserves a lot of culture, traditional universities, beautiful sights, a lively nightlife and the best beer in the world. There is no reason to not go and try it out.
With the great help from UNIGOu and a few local friends, I was able to fully enjoy my stay at such a nice place.
UFRJ - Czech Technical University
My stay in the Czech Republic was very important for my personal and professional development. In the professional field, it was a great to stay the Czech Technical University in Prague and cooperate in the laboratories with many professors and PhD students. Also it was a good development for my English. In the personal field, it was really nice to get to know a really different country with different customs and traditions, different language (inevitably we learn something despite the difficulty). There was time, also, for some vacations in many cities near the Czech Republic. I really recommend the program because the Universities have high infrastructure and great laboratories with trained people that you can learn a lot
UNICAMP - University of West Bohemia
UNICAMP - Czech Technical University
UNIGOU provided me to live 3 months in Czech Republic, and that was the experience I was looking for. I had a great professional and personal experience. I decided to use my last college summer vacation in Brazil to work in this project, and of course, that was the best decision. The project taught me how to work with computational simulation and how to do validation tests.
I worked at the New Technologies Research Centre, from the University of West Bohemia. The project was really interesting, and my supervisor taught me how to use the software and how to do all the validation tests. I also could fell the Czech student life living in a student dormitory, and meeting persons from all over the world (soccer matches with guys from Africa, Middle East, parts of Asia).
Czech Republic has a lot of history, so is possible to learn a lot about the country and famous people very easily. Plzen is an amazing city, over than 700 years old. You have everything you need as a big city, but you also can fell the Czech interior life. It’s possible to try amazing foods and drinks. Of course this program was the best experience of my life.
The program was perfect! If you have any intention to spend your vacation in a very different, but beautiful and exciting place, you should definitely contact UNIGOu and go to Prague.
I arrived in Prague on 1st January and until the last day everything was great: UNIGOU coordinators were extremely thoughtful and provided all the structure to enjoy the trip: accommodation, transportation, cell phone SIM card, documents for the university - nothing was left aside.
The academic part was very good, in my case I was at the electrical engineering faculty at CTU. I stayed at the Masarykova kolej (hall of residences), which is very nice and has complete structure for students.
But the really great part is the city: amazing views, intense nightlife, cheap prices and strategic localization: right in the middle of Europe. Traveling inside Czech Republic is also great: especially to the city where the best beer in the world is made: Pilsner Urquell!
So if you have any doubts about going, don't. Doesn't matter what your preferences are: studying, skiing, partying, sightseeing, traveling, meeting people... All of this can be done if you go to Prague with UNIGOu. So pack your bags, put some warm clothes and get ready to have a great experience!