Alumni Spotlight: Emilie Alexandra Schäfferling

Emilie is a Danish girl, currently in her sophomore year of International Communication Studies at Turiba University in Latvia. With a passion for investigative journalism, video/photo editing, gender equality, and the BRICS countries, Emilie is on the dean's list at her home university and is en route to studying a semester abroad in Brussels.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose Intern-Brazil because I was interested in interning in a non-traditional country.

I have always had an interest in Brazil because in my home country it is very romanticized as this jungle, with beautiful people and amazing culture. At the same time, I think that the media can sometimes portray Brazil as unsafe.

Because of these two contradicting images, I wanted to go to Brazil to experience it myself.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Intern-Brazil had the responsibility of finding the actual internship. Aside from the internship itself, I was on my own with the rest - visa, housing, flights, tickets, etc.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would strongly recommend anyone who is considering to go to Brazil to take a Portuguese language course before going, or at least in some way obtain some knowledge of the language.

Knowing a little Portuguese will make your stay there much more pleasant, and I say this as a person who went with ZERO knowledge of the Portuguese language. Do not expect anyone to know English or Spanish in Brazil.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I had a part-time, unpaid internship so I worked Monday through Friday from 1 pm until 6 pm. I was given enough tasks to complete at the beginning of the week to keep me busy.

On a normal day, I would leave my apartment in the city center around 12:30 pm and walk my way to the office, which was in the other end of the city. On the way, I would see the most amazing skyscrapers and palm trees, which is a big deal for me, since I come from the cold North where such things do not exist!

When arriving at the office I would be briefed on what tasks I should focus on for that day and if any of them were more urgent than others. It would be different from day to day, depending on how many employees were in the office.

In between tasks, I would get offered a whole bunch of food from the employees and we would talk and have a good time in the laid-back environment. I interned in Brazil during the winter, and because the sun would go down around 5 pm when I got off work, my co-workers would always make sure that I arrived home safely.

During the weekends the girls at the office invited me to go to the cinema with them, go to lunch or to local markets.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear of interning in Brazil was definitely, as I mentioned, my safety. From the moment I arrived in Brazil, it was something that I was consistently concerned about.

The first two days I was scared to go to the supermarket during the day! I quickly learned that Brazil is just as safe as any European capital city, and luckily, my fears disappeared. I met so many amazing people who helped me overcome this fear and changed my views of Brazil for the better.