Data: 29 de abril de 2010
To live this experience of studying for six months at the Universidade de Coimbra was more than I can describe. In addition to enriching my academic life, this program gave me a new family, new friends, and a new way of viewing and overcoming difficulties and of discovering my own strength. Being an exchange student has taught me to deal with social, cultural and personal differences in a more mature way – I discovered that inside our own country we can be more different than in an unknown country. In summary, this experience taught me tolerance, because it is only by being tolerant that we can get to know, understand and accept what is different, understand that what is different is not essentially good or bad, but that it is seen with prejudice, because what is different transforms us, and many people are incapable of seeing ahead, and so they fear change.
Academically, I was able to get to know different ways of teaching, in some aspects better than the ones I was used to in Brazil, that I hope I will be able to share. On the other hand, I realized that we do a lot in Brazil with little resources, and that, in relation to teaching, we are not far behind one of the best Law schools in the world.
However, I realized that what we need, in addition to a better infrastructure, is a little more tradition: at the Universidade de Coimbra I got to know chains of thought that come down through the years and go from generation to generation (from doctors to their assistants, who will be the future doctors), but this tradition does not mean continuism. Maybe it is all the experience that the Law school at the Unversidade de Coimbra has, and that we don’t have, that has helped it learn to deal so well with the binomial tradition-change, since, in it’s classrooms they teach the classics as well as the visionaries. I was able to learn with incredible professors the most up-to-date theories and see that Brazilian law and its students are greatly acknowledged in Coimbra, since their tests and papers have been outstanding even among the Portuguese.
The University combines the tradition of its buildings with the most modern technology – their library is indescribable, and the diffusion of knowledge is shocking: we have access to books, magazines and periodicals of the main law schools in the world, in addition to an impressive database – and we have it at any place on the campus, thanks to a wi-fi connection. The social service is also worthy of notice. There are several canteens and dormitories that attend the students’ needs, in addition to the academic association, that is very representative inside the university, offering services to help the students and also lots of entertainment. For the foreign students, the Academic Association of Coimbra helps them look for housing, helps welcome them and helps them interact with other students, since every month they would organize trips to the interior of Portugal in order to show us the fascinating history of Portugal.
I know that the main goal of the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora in supporting these exchange programs is the academic enrichment of its students, but, I can most surely say that, to me, my academic growth (which was not little) was not greater that my personal growth, because I got to know, in addition to the schools shelves, life stories, people, truths and cultures that certainly took me a lot closer to the man and the professional that I want to be than the theories I read in my books did.