Feb 25, 2015


My personal experience with Aiesec internship has been rewarding at least. The road is not always perfect and neither should be your expectations. I had some bad days but also a lot of great days full of joy and new experiences. The purpose of this article is to share with you my thoughts on that. A very honest ones. Since my internship took place in Brazil, I will share with you my experiences with this country.

I am a strong believer that every person should get out there and live and work in different country at least once. The benefits are endless. You are forced to face new situations and those situations might be very unexpectable and very unpleasant. Simply put, you will be forced to act out of your comfort zone. 


When I mention a cultural shock to people who never lived in a different country, I get a funny face so often. Nevertheless, cultural shock is a real thing. You do not appreciate what you have in your home country. You do not see that. Walking on the street fearless and understanding everyone seems just normal. Guess what - it is not. At least not everywhere in the world.   

I knew about violence in Brazil. However, things are different on a paper and in a reality. One American girl was walking home at 6 in the evening from work. Only from a bus station to her host family. Some Brazilian boy surprised her with a knife. He was pointing at her demanding her phone. Luckily, her phone was home. She told him, he searched everything and when he saw that she is not lying, he let her go. Good luck? Perhaps. Then two German girls where on a bus, in the afternoon. Suddenly, two boys entered the bus with guns. They just wanted to rob people. My point is not to scare you off. I would choose Brazil again but not everyone has a stomach for that. 

Yes, there are other things connected with cultural shock. You miss your family and friends. You do not have your comfort food. Your mum is not there when you are sick. Anyway, overcoming all these problems will make you a stronger person. You will not take things for granted. And most of all, you will understand that in the end, you are on your own. In certain times, there is no one to help you but you. 


Host families can be great or awful. People are different and their personalities and cultures do not always get along well. You need to be tolerant, understanding, open, above all, and insist on communicating with your host family. Sometimes, even these things are not enough. Respect is a mutual thing. 

I was lucky in America, my host family was amazing. The same in England on a language course. I was not that lucky in Brazil. I was living with two girls, 23 and 25 yrs old. My first impression was wow, that is gonna be awesome! No. They were locked in their rooms. They washed dishes just once per week. There was sh*t in the living room (seems like cats do not always clean up after themselves). They did not talk to me. Well, it was quite ok in the beginning but after a few days - nothing. And so on. After 4 weeks (I had 2 weeks left) my buddy from Aiesec (a person who shows you the city and should be there for you) met me one afternoon just before my class. She told me that my host "sisters" complained repeatedly about me and that they want me gone in 3 hours. No discussions. In that point, no one believed me. To be precise, Aiesec was concerned only about their reputation in the city. And therefore, about the happiness of this host family, since they could say bad things about Aiesec to their family and friends. Zero interest about me, about my situation, my thoughts or my feelings. In the end, I slept at my friend's house..


Yes, generally people who participate in these projects love to travel. I take that. Traveling is amazing. But it is not the main thing why you got accepted. I suggest the following in order not to be disappointed:
  • treat your internship like a job (it is not a fun camp)
  • find out about the culture, habits
  • always remember that you are a guest
  • be responsible, respectful, punctual and open minded
  • use the chance to develop some friendships
  • be a "yes" person, go out there and explore


The chance is that you will meet a lot of people. And as it usually works, you will make plans together. My only advice is this: say YES. Be open to new experiences. Be willing to try what you normally would not. Accept people for who they are. One guy told me that there is a high chance that we will never see each other again. So make the most of it while you are there. And if you are lucky, you will develop some wonderful life lasting friendships!


More than 3 months passed since my intership ended. Besides having tons of photos, I will always remember:
getting lost at 11 pm in the middle of nowhere
eating acai every day with our group
seeing my students to speak more and more
numerous parties on beaches and on the terrace drinking Caipirinha
eating that tasty Brazilian meet
eating Brigadeiro with my best host sisters before midnight while watching the Friends
having the worst dirreahea ever in my life
falling in love with passion fruit
being surprised by the presence of maids basically in every household
freezing because Brazilians love air conditioning
meeting the most friendly people from Venezuela on a boat party in Rio
dancing samba at 2 in the morning at gas station
waiting for the bus for one hour because there are no time schedules
meeting people from all around the world in a hostel in Rio and going on trips together (and partying of course)
being blown away by the hospitality of Brazilians
... and much more!

To sum it all up, I can only urge you to pack your things and just GO! Nothing is always black and white and hard times challenge you. The experience will be really enriching and working in a totally different country will open your mind and show you new horizons. It could be Indonesia, Peru, Vietnam, Argentina, Norway or whatever country works for you :) Live it up! 

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