Meet September’s Student of the Month: Rafael De Oliveira Borges Nascimento!

September's Student of the Month: Rafael De Oliveira Borges Nascimento

September’s Student of the Month: Rafael De Oliveira Borges Nascimento

Describe a time when you faced culture shock during your stay in the United States. What did you learn from the experience

Name: Rafael De Oliveira Borges Nascimento

Field of Study: Civil Engineering

U.S. Host Institution: University of Georgia

I was born in a small city in Bahia, Brazil, and my parents got divorced when I was one year old. My mom moved to Rio de Janeiro and my dad went to Salvador, which forced me to go back and forth between them to spend my vacations or live with one or the other. I believe everyone experiences culture shock when they go to a completely different environment, even when one goes to a small inner city and sees how relaxed and peaceful the people are. One question that comes to mind while pondering my experience living in the United States so far is: How could one just leave their car on the street unlocked and unattended during the entire night? This collective trust and honesty was exactly what impressed me about living in the United States.

I have always heard how the United States is different from Brazil, and I expected it to be a business-oriented country where everything was accessible and cheap. I went to the United States as an exchange student and found out that I did not really know what Americans were like. I moved to the U.S. in August 2014 and began living in a small city called Athens, GA, a great college town where the libraries and rooms always have people studying.

Is this really the country of fast food, with all these people at the gym at 6am to exercise? This was not my only surprise. I did not have 25¢ to put in the locker, and my friend told me to leave my backpack on the floor, next to the lockers. I told him there was no way I’d leave my stuff there, but I ended up doing it anyway. Two hours later, my bag was untouched. In the same manner, the cell phone, the keys and the card that a girl left on a table in the middle of the busy dining hall were untouched while she was grabbing her food. The people in Brazil are not used to leaving their belongings unattended in public areas.

One year later, the people in the United States are still surprising me. Recently, I went to Orlando with my girlfriend, my cousin, and his wife. I was in line, waiting to try an amazing simulator when the guy behind me asked me if I had dropped $20 on the floor. When I told my cousin what happened, I laughed and said: “if it were $100, I would have told him that was mine.” “No, you wouldn’t,” he said. Two days after that, I found a new iPhone on the beach and I called the person to whom it belonged to return it. Her entire family thanked me.

During my time here in the United States, I have learned that you reap what you sow. I have loved being part of this daily cycle where I can trust in the people around me, and I want to let them trust me. I am going back home in December and I hope I can plant this seed in my society so that one day it becomes part of everyone– because one year ago, I would not have expected my friend to receive an email informing her that somebody found her flash drive!