A ‘Gringo’ Learns the Lingo – and How to Test Soil Samples – in Brazil

A ‘Gringo’ Learns the Lingo – and How to Test Soil Samples – in Brazil

A ‘Gringo’ Learns the Lingo – and How to Test Soil Samples – in Brazil

Fri, Sep 15th, 2017

Seán Dempsey is a Chemistry student at University College Dublin. Rather than spend the summer before his final year on a J1 visa in the States or interailing around Europe, Seán decided to ‘work, experience, discover’ with IAESTE Ireland. The worldwide IAESTE network organises paid, course-related traineeships for students and recent graduates of technical subjects such as Engineering, Science, and IT. Léargas manage the programme in Ireland and are now taking applications for next year’s programme! Find out how to apply and make sure to get your application in before the deadline on 09 December 2017.

From Dublin to Sao Paulo

Thanks to IAESTE, I got the opportunity to do something a bit different. I got the chance to live in Brazil for two months and complete a research internship there. This allowed me to gain some valuable work experience in my field, AND gave me the chance to travel and experience a new culture.

I lived in Rio Claro, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. For two months my home was ‘Republica Beco’, a student house made up of four Brazilian guys. Brazilian people are unbelievably friendly and welcoming and I was made feel at home from the get-go. I quickly became known as ‘gringo’, the name Brazilians give to foreign people. During my stay, there were countless barbecues and parties so there was never a dull moment. Brazil is a country rich in culture and living with Brazilians gave me the chance to experience every aspect of it, from their food to their music. It also gave me the chance to learn some Portuguese!

Geochemical Research in a Leading Brazilian University

I had just completed the third year of my chemistry degree in UCD and wanted to get a bit of experience in a research environment before doing my final year research project. This was a fantastic opportunity to do so – and it was even paid! During my stay, I worked in the geochemical department at UNESP, one of the leading universities in Brazil. I helped to analyse various chemical components in soil and water samples from around Brazil. I got the chance to use new equipment and practise lab techniques that I had not used before. I feel that the work I did will definitely stand to me for my final year research project, as well as in the future when I graduate. International work experience is also a great asset to have on your CV!

‘The Greatest Decision I’ve Ever Made’

Possibly the best thing about my stay in Brazil was getting to travel around the country and visit some amazing places. My weekends were spent in places like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Foz do Iguacu waterfalls. One of the highlights of my time in Brazil was a trip to a tropical island called Ihlabela which had amazing beaches and hiking trails. During these trips I got to meet trainees from around the world and we were often hosted by Brazilian IAESTE volunteers, so didn’t have to worry about paying for accommodation!

Deciding to do an IAESTE internship in Brazil was by far the greatest decision I’ve ever made. I got the chance to meet some amazing people, visit some beautiful places and gain some work experience: all at the same time.


Images courtesy of Seán Dempsey. We welcome contributions to ‘Insights’ at comms@leargas.ie.