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Brazilian student prepares for exams — and Canadian winter

Virginia Fernandes, from Natal, Brazil, is studying chemical engineering at Queen's.

Third-year undergraduate student Virginia Fernandes is bundled up against the cold on a particularly brisk November afternoon. In her home city of Natal, Brazil, the temperature never dips below 15C. Ms Fernandes, who studies chemical engineering, is a little apprehensive as she anticipates her first Canadian winter.

But getting used to the chilly weather is all part of the exchange student experience at Queen’s. Ms Fernandes is taking part in the Canada-Brazil Ciencia sem Fronteiras (Science Without Borders) scholarship program. The program, which is primarily funded by the Brazilian government with private-sector support, enables Brazilian undergraduate and graduate students to spend 12 months studying at a Canadian university. The program’s goal is to promote the consolidation and expansion of science, technology and innovation in Brazil.

Ms Fernandes was drawn to Queen’s because of its size and quality. “I Googled the top Canadian universities, and I also did searches on YouTube,” she explains. “The buildings at Queen’s were really beautiful and it seemed like a good place.”

She hasn’t been disappointed yet. She says the campus is “100-times bigger” than her home university, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, and describes Queen’s students as more focused and attentive than her counterparts in Brazil. Ms Fernandes also appreciates how accessible her Queen’s professors are.

When she’s finished her academic year, Ms Fernandes will spend the summer months doing research related to her studies before heading back to Brazil in late August or early September. When she does head home, she hopes to be armed with new knowledge, experience and an ability to handle the cold weather. Ms Fernandes may even leave with a Queen’s engineering jacket to help keep her warm with memories when she’s back in the Brazilian sun.

More information on the Canada-Brazil Ciencia sem Fronteiras program.

Read more profiles of Queen's People.