|Two Brazilian exchange students learned lessons both inside and outside the classroom at CSUF this semester.
December 15, 2005
by Robby Nisenfeld
Like many of their Cal State Fullerton classmates,
Felipe Ribeiro and Josias Xavier are headed home for the
They’re just traveling close to 6,000
miles to get there.
Ribeiro and Xavier, a pair of Brazilian
exchange students, will conclude their stay in America when
they return to Brazil Dec. 22.
The duo has spent the semester
on campus as part of a student exchange program between Cal
State Fullerton, the University of Connecticut and two Brazilian
universities. The program, centered on coastal marine management,
will see six CSUF students venture to Brazil in spring 2006.
exchanges also are being planned.
“There are so many
different ramifications of international studies,” said
Robert A. Voeks, professor of geography, who traveled to
Brazil in July with Steven Murray, dean of the College of
Natural Sciences and Mathematics, to help spearhead the program.
think people here have perceptions about students from foreign
countries, and once our students get a chance to experience
and become exposed to those international students, some
of those [perceptions] begin to go away. It’s
very beneficial for both the students and faculty involved.”
a 21-year-old sophomore from Universidade Federal Fluminense,
and Xavier, a 22-year-old senior at Universidade Federal
Da Paraiba, live together in the campus residence halls with
four other roommates.
The biological science majors both said
that prior to their arrival on campus, their perceptions
of America came primarily from pop culture. In fact, once
they found out they were headed to California, they said
they started watching the TV show “The OC” in
hopes of learning about the region.
“Our knowledge of
the U.S. is mainly from movies, and it’s very interesting
to see things here that you see in the movies,” said
Xavier, whose Brazilian girlfriend, Sofia Gomez, also is
participating in the program at the University of Connecticut
“But I’ve been involved with so
many nationalities here, and it’s good to see so many
people with so many different types of lives.”
and Ribeiro said university life at CSUF is far different
than their Brazilian universities. They said most Brazilian
students live alone and rarely have cars. There also are
no fraternities and no intercollegiate athletics.
is focused primarily on lecture and theory in Brazil and
they rarely get the opportunity to do fieldwork or research
outside of class. Xavier and Ribeiro added that the resources
available to American students are far greater here than
“I came here expecting to see a lot
of technology and money, and that’s what I’ve
said. “What I didn’t expect is that the university
makes sure we’re in contact with scientific research,
and then you choose whether you want to become involved or
Each is taking 12 hours of coursework and
say their favorite class is marine phycology. Jayson R. Smith,
lecturer in biological science, teaches the course and said
Xavier and Ribeiro have definitely developed a bond with
their American peers both inside and outside the classroom.
see them talking with other students all the time about what
it’s like [in Brazil],” Smith said. “They
get along great with the students we’re sending down
to Brazil and have kind of taken it upon themselves to mentor
them and tell them what to expect when they get down there.
hear about the places they’ve gone and who’s
taking them there, and it’s always somebody different.
I think people are taking the effort to expose them to our
back to News Front