Brazilian Scholarship recipient, Rebeca Da Rocha, shares her personal reflections as a student at IDS, and a resident in Brighton, England.
Choosing to apply for a Masters isn’t an easy decision in Brazil. In some other cultures, you have to have a Master’s degree to be able to achieve higher roles in your career. In Brazil, this isn’t necessarily the case. I have been leading the Brazilian office of an international NGO for five years and my skills, networking and background experiences were more important for getting a job than my degree.
However, I’m a restless person. I love pushing myself to new challenges and feel that I’m always learning new things. This has happened a couple of times. For example, when I decided to move from my hometown Recife to Sao Paulo to expand my horizons; then moving to Cairo to work and live there for several months; and then when I took a job in the NGO to manage all the operations by myself. This same feeling pushed me to search for a Masters and apply for IDS in one weekend, when I found the MA in Globalisation, Business and Development
. The description was exactly what I was looking for and I knew it was time for a new challenge in my life again.
Moving is never easy. Especially in the moment of my life where I had an amazing job, a great group of friends and was totally settled in this giant city that I was already calling home. Also, it doesn’t matter the amount of research you make, people you talk to and calculations you do, jumping yourself into the new means taking risks and being strong enough to deal with and learn from the unknown.
As with any changes we have in our lives, we can number a bunch of bad and good things that happen to us. I want to share the most positive ones; here are the four things I’m most enjoying in my time in the UK and at IDS.1. It’s good to live in a small city.
Ok. I know that for British standards, Brighton isn’t that small. But from my reality it is. I lived the past eight years in Sao Paulo, a city of 12 million people. I would take at least one hour to get to my work that was a 6km distance from my home. Buses, metro stations and streets are never empty and quiet.
I admit when I got here it was kind of a shock to see such a quiet neighborhood and made me wonder if I would get bored too fast. On the other hand, I though “If I get bored I’m so close to London and to Gatwick that I can just travel around Europe”. And I have to say that Brighton has since then positively surprised me. I’m always discovering new cute and cool places, people are friendly and fun, and things are close enough to walk around or just a 15 minutes bus ride. I’ll definitely miss that.2. Winter makes you notice nature.
Everybody knows how much the British love to talk about the weather. In the autumn every time I mentioned I’m from Brazil, the first question after that was “why did you change your country to the UK?” and then “Oh you have to prepare for the winter. Dark, windy and wet!” I was freaking out. Then the winter came, and besides a couple of really not good days it isn’t that bad at all.
The most interesting thing I noticed about the winter, and I never realized living in Brazil, is how we observe nature much more here. I see myself always looking at the trees, the grass, and the animals. Part of it is the anxiety to see a sign that winter is close to an end, but also I’ve noticed things that you would never notice in a country where the landscape stays the same for the entire year. So I would say to the British, do not be so hard with yourselves. There are positive things in a rainy and cloudy winter as well, but I admit I’m looking forward to enjoying the summer in Brighton!3. We have to create time to do the important things.
Moving to a deeper topic: Doing a Masters made me realize how much our routines are so busy that we aren’t actually taking time to learn and reflect about anything. During my work routine I started the day with an inbox full of requests, questions and invitations. Then I was crazy-running from one meeting to another, one call after the other, and trying to deliver documents, reports and proposals in-between. To read anything other than emails, text messages and proposals, was just impossible. At home, my brain was so tired that I took six months to finish a single book.
Since starting the masters the only thing I do now is read and write about my thoughts. This made me realize how important this routine is for our development as human beings; as responsible citizens and relevant professionals. It’s naive to think that we could keep a Masters routine after finishing it, but blocking time in the agenda to read and share reflections with other people is fundamental. I started to do it with my colleagues. Every month we read a report and take an hour to discuss it. We can’t let the everyday tasks (and often not urgent tasks) push us away from the critical thinking that we need to be constantly exercising.4. Diversity is fundamental and it is beautiful.
Lastly, when I was coming to IDS I didn’t know what to expect. I imagined that we would have a group of international people, but the majority would still be British. Luckily, I was wrong. In my class we don’t have one single English person and only a couple of UK citizens. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against British people. I actually love their charming accent, smart jokes and comments, and their super polite manners! But when we are studying development, having a diverse group who can share their own reality, experiences and particularities of their countries, is so enriching and enlightening that it takes the whole Masters experience to another level.
In a moment where various nations are moving to close around their own culture, I see how the other way around is actually fundamental and important. Diversity is beautiful; it is fundamental for our growth as human beings, as resilient, critical and engaged citizens, and for a more just and peaceful society. I’m glad that IDS embraces and promotes this culture.Rebeca's fees were paid by the IDS Scholarship Fund. To find out more about how you can support students like Rebeca at IDS please see our support us pages or contact the IDS Alumni Office.You might also be interested in a blog by our other IDS Scholarship student for 2016/17- Fia, and a thank you from a previous recipient of the Scholarship, Mir.