Hi, everybody! Today I would like to share an interview done to one of my closest friends at Dickinson, Amanda. She is from Brazil, so our countries are neighbors. Since we are here, we have shared a class, several meals, parties and workout time! We feel identified in different things, typical from our South American roots. We both miss hugs from our beloved ones and we kiss on the cheek every time we say ‘Hi!’ Amanda and I talk loud because we are teachers but I think it is also a Latin American characteristic. She is really nice and caring! I really going to miss her, but I am sure I will spend vacations under the Brazilian sun soon with her!
Carla: Hi, Amanda! Thank you very much for your time! Can you tell me a little it about yourself?
Amanda: Hi, Carli. Of course! My name is Amanda I am 23 years old and I am from Sao Paulo, the countryside of Sao Paulo
C: Why did you choose Dickinson?
A: It was my first option. I am in a Fulbright program and I have the possibility of choosing among 5 colleges, ranking them. So, Dickinson was my first option but it does not depend just on me. I was Dickinson first option. We can say that Fulbright looks for a match and that is why I am here.
C: What do you do here? Can you describe a typical day at Dickinson?
A: I am teaching Portuguese as a TA and I am also attending two classes as a student. Well, my week varies a lot. In the very beginning of the week, I have very busy days, but towards the end of the week is a little bit less stressful. On Mondays, I teach in a class and I attend the my two classes. I teach from 9:30 to 10:30, I go to one of my classes, History of American Education, that it is from 10:30 to 11:30 and then normally I have lunch. After that, I read some texts because I have the other class at 3, from 3 to 4:15. And that’s it! Then, after the last class, I go to the gym. I try to go to the gym everyday and coming back from the gym I stop by the caff to have dinner. I come back and that’s my day.
C: Do you like teaching your mother tongue? Can you share some characteristics of your class?
A: Yes! I love teaching my mother tongue! It is completely different because I started to teach Portuguese, but I used to teach just to natives. I have taught Portuguese for 2 years for foreigners, but here at Dickinson it is completely different. I feel that I am learning even more about my own language because my students ask me questions that I can not even imagine how to answer them! It is rewarding to see how much they are interested in your mother tongue, your culture and they know a lot about my country. I really did not imagine that they would know that much before coming.
My students love the language, they participate a lot during class and ask different things about the culture. They like comparing the way I speak with the way other people from different regions of Brazil speak. I feel Dickinson students are very dedicated when learning a foreign language. First of all, they have classes every day and this is something that make them go really fast with the language. Second, they are really committed with the homework, the essays, they also go to the writing center, they ask a lot of questions during classes and that’s great!
C: Have you felt overwhelmed or really tired being here?
A: Yes. I feel constantly tired, but I think it’s a mental thing. Actually, I don’t feel overwhelmed because I don’t have a lot of classes since Fulbright requires just to take two classes as a student. That is really good because I have 20 hours as a TA and I have to prepare material for different classes and it also depends on the professor. I am a TA on 2 classes taught by 2 Portuguese professors; they have completely different teaching styles. One of them works with the class book and I follow it for my activities. The other professor I can not use the book so I prepare my own material. That takes time, but I prefer doing my own activities because sometimes I don’t like the activities from the book. But, normally I try to workout, to relax and not feel overwhelmed. However, when I have essays or exams, I feel a little bit stressed.
C: Can you mention some feelings or emotions if you think about your Dickinson experience?
A: I can think about three different feelings throughout this first semester. In the very beginning, I was a little bit sad because I think the most difficult thing is to adapt. By the time you make friends and by the time you feel good because of the atmosphere everything gets better. The fact that Dickinson is a small college has helped a lot. You see familiar faces everywhere and that is the best thing that I have experienced in my life. I feel I made a great decision choosing Dickinson. I talk a lot with others Fulbright friends that are from Brazil and I see that the ones who are in bigger colleges don’t have the experience I am having. I have a really nice international group so we are most of the time together and it makes me feel comfortable and it makes me feel at home. So, I was sad and when I realized that I have friends, I feel very excited. I am very excited here. The third feeling is homesickness. I think it’s natural, but I just have good things to talk about my Dickinson experience. I see a progress in everything since that I got here.
C: How frequently do you communicate with your family and friends from Brazil? How?
A: I talk with my family every day. I talked to my parents every day, sometimes I talk with my Mom more than once because she calls me a lot! I have this plan that I can call them for free and then, sometimes with my brothers I talk via WhatsApp. With my boyfriend we vary; we can not really talk every day but we send text through WhatsApp and we use FaceTime. I use Facebook to talk with my friends, I don’t really call them, we just talked about random things through Facebook.
C: Have you experienced up and downs being here?
A: The worst ‘down’ was the adaptation period. The first month was complicated because in my classes I needed to adapt to each professor’s styles and approaches. That took like a month, then it was going well. The food was also a down because I was eating a lot of fries and that provoked me stomachaches! I was suffering with that! Now, I just avoid fries. The schedule was also hard to follow because I wasn’t used to eat at 12 and then to have dinner at 6, so right now I feel that I am adapted, I feel fine.
The up is definitely my relationship with all my friends here and my classes. I like them a lot, I like my choices!
C: What are your goals for the near future?
A: My main goal is to keep improving my English and to learn with the new courses that I am taking next semester. I am taking Spanish and Literature and I am very excited for that! They are really different classes if I compare them to the courses I took this semester, that is exciting and challenging!
Quick fire questions!
C: Favorite place in the world
A: My town
C: Favorite food
C: Favorite language: Portuguese!
A: Favorite app to communicate with others: WhatsApp
C: Thank you very much, Amanda!
A: De nada!