“People, places and cultures made my experience unforgettable"
This year, Carlos Jesus, collaborator at the School of Engineering of the University of Minho, embarked on one of the most significant professional and personal adventures of his life – he spent a month in Thailand, in the framework of the SWAP AND TRANSFER Programme. ENGINews wanted to know all about this experience, with which the technician of the Department of Civil Engineering had been dreaming about for so long.
What took you to embark on this adventure?
An exchange period was something I considered in the past. This personal and institutional project began when I was still a student of Civil Engineering at University of Minho. This idea was in line with the Erasmus Mundus mobility programmes (SWAP AND TRANSFER July 2015). It actually became reality, although I participated in the exchange as staff and not as student.
The fact that I like new challenges, especially professional adventures in my working subject and discovering new realities, largely influenced my decision.
I was interested in Asian countries mainly due to the considerable sociocultural contrast, and that is why I chose Thailand.
What were the main difficulties?
There were some problems, but none that led me to give up accomplishing a project I looked forward to so much.
Several difficulties came in different stages, starting with trying to convince my supervisors and my family that this would be a great professional and personal experience, as well as gathering all the necessary information required by the SWAP and TRANSFER project.
After this stage, how was your adaptation to Thailand, once there?
In Thailand I had to face a few minor difficulties due to the language barrier – only a small percentage of people speaks English. The food issue was also a setback in the beginning. These obstacles were quickly overcome with the help of a good friend, almost a brother, who is also a former student of the Department of Civil Engineering.
At the University of Burapha, in the Department of Civil Engineering, where the exchange activities took place, I was able to comply with the work plan with no further problems, it was just a matter of time flying by! It was complicated to follow my schedule and say goodbye to everyone I met and who were my second family during my visit.
What challenges mark this experience?
The greatest challenge was actually to comply with and complete my work plan within the established deadline. Of course there were other daily random challenges, from an insignificant house chore to a more complex task.
Such an experience leaves you with several memories... which would you like to point out?
It has been two months and I have so many different memories... The people, places and culture made my experience unforgettable.
I had a chance to work with amazing people who cared about my well-being and were always available to help me.
I take this opportunity to thank the entire Civil Engineering team at the University of Burapha (Thailand), to the master and doctoral students, and particularly to Professor Taweechai, my mentor and friend.