If you asked me 3 years ago, I would have never imagined myself in Brazil working for a start up company. If you asked me 3 years ago, I would have never imagined myself living under one roof with 21 people. If you asked me 3 years ago, I didn’t know what AIESEC was.
In September 2013, I joined AIESEC as a member with the intention to make more friends in my university. When people asked where I would want to travel to, I was adamant on staying in English speaking countries or “safer” countries in Europe because of my family.
After joining, I was presented with multiple opportunities to be a more confident version of myself – such as facilitating conferences, managing my own team, and delivering over 50 international volunteer experiences to Canadians.
However, I was always presented with one issue that really bothered me. When I would promote AIESEC, a common question asked was “Have you been on an exchange?” My answer would always be “No, but I will one day!” I found as many excuses not to go on an exchange, when in October 2015, I made one of the best decisions in my lifetime and paid the fee (woo!).
Currently, I am under AIESEC’s Global Entrepreneur Program completing a 4-month marketing internship in a small Brazilian town called Ouro Preto. I live and work here with 3 other international interns. At the lab, I am in charge of 4 projects ranging from mobile gaming applications to systems aimed at improving the efficiency of emergency responses by the police.
Living on my own in a town with a population less than my university was a big change and an even bigger culture shock. My past AIESEC experience prepared me for the culture shocks to come.
The best part about doing an AIESEC exchange is the opportunity to live like local. The food, events like Carnival, the infrastructure, and the people are amazing! The people here have helped me in so many ways – like when I always notoriously get lost, or even going out of their way and dedicating their own personal time to teach us Portuguese.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned here is to expect the unexpected. Prior to going, my family was angry that I chose a “dangerous” country to spend 4 months in – which would be the longest time I’ve lived away from them. Throughout my time here, I was not only able to impact my own life and those here in Brazil, but also those back home in Canada by changing the mindsets of my family and their view on certain cultures.
With a few weeks left in Brazil, I feel that I’ve grown a lot throughout this experience. From the workplace giving me the creative freedom to manage my own projects, to living the Brazilian culture with new friends. This will be an experience I will never forget, and definitely the highlight of my AIESEC journey.
Want to go on a journey just like Chelsea? Sign up here and make the best decision of your life today!