Brazilian doctor recalls her time as exchange student in Cairns

01st January 1970

Dr Marina from Brazil recalls her time as a high school exchange student in Cairns:
When I first thought about studying abroad, Australia was the country that most interested me. It has an interesting history, exotic nature and friendly people. I started looking for cities and I was enchanted with Cairns because it was so close to the Great Barrier Reef and had many beautiful beaches. It was also important to my family and I that high quality education was offered at public schools.

Moreover, the climate was similar to Brazil and, as it was a smaller city, I thought it would be better to experience Australian culture. I chose Trinity Bay State High School because it has a nice structure and diverse and interesting subjects to choose from.

The school was very prepared to help international students to adapt and make the most of the exchange experience. There were other international students there as well and the school organised meetings so we could get to know each other. Also, there was always someone from the staff to help me with questions and information about school activities.

At Trinity Bay, I loved to be able to choose which subjects to take! They were more practical than in Brazil and teachers respected the students’ learning pace.

In one of the disciplines, Biological Sciences, I had my first contact with the concepts of medical genetics and assignments about scientific methodology. This aroused great interest in the subject, which later influenced my career choices.

One of the main goals of this time abroad was to become fluent in English. I got a lot of support from school and from my host family in the first weeks. Then, I started making friends with Australians and international students which made me practise English all the time and also helped me to enjoy my exchange time.

I chose to stay with a host family and it was the best choice I could make. Lynn and Tony were a lovely couple that made every effort to make me feel welcome! They organised a birthday party, they took me on road trips to places near Cairns and they really helped me with my English. They were genuinely concerned about my wellbeing and became a family to me.

We still keep in touch nowadays. Also, they had other exchange students staying with them, one of which has become a good friend of mine. I visited her in Germany in 2016 and it was great to remember our adventures in Australia.

After I came back from Cairns, I finished high school in Brazil in 2011 and graduated in Medicine from the University of São Paulo Medical School in Brazil in 2018. I’m currently in a medical residency program in Medical Genetics at the University of São Paulo and I plan on specialising in cancer genetics.

My time in Cairns contributed significantly to my career. It allowed me to get in touch with very interesting subjects and helped me to become fluent in English. Also, living away from home made me more independent and focused. I am very grateful for this experience!

This story has been reproduced from Education Queensland International

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