I realise that Chalmers is indeed a university of excellence!

You can feel that you are part of the university and not just using it!

Carolina Braga from Brazil. Science Without Borders Programme in Sustainable Chemistry at Chalmers.

I wanted to make a difference in the world.

I still remember that evening in São Paulo, when I saw a lot of slums in the main avenues and how the untreated sludge and sewage was draining into the river. I remember thinking about both the people living in those inhuman conditions and also about the environment that was taking being destroyed. I remember realising that I wanted to make a difference in that reality. When the time came to make a choice for my education, I first considered environmental engineering but it was a rather new programme in Brazil. So that's how I chose Chemical Engineering at UNICAMP because I was sure that I could specialise in an area that can help me achieve my dreams.

Science Without Borders - In search of culture shock!

In my second year, the Science without Borders programme started, and some of my friends went. Many of them chose to travel to the USA. Knowing that Brazilian culture is influenced by American culture, I wanted to see something completely different.

It might sound weird, but I was literally searching for the culture shock that most people would normally run away from. I saw Science Without Borders as an opportunity to develop myself; to see how is life outside of Brazil and what can I bring to Brazil by living in another reality. I wanted to experience something totally new and Europe was the answer to my desires.

I started looking for my options in Europe and found Sweden. In Brazil we all know that it is a great place to live, with high quality of life and so on. But we don't know the details.
- Why is Sweden so good?
I started to learn about Sweden and realised that this was a country that was different from Brazil in practically every aspect - language, climate and thinking of life and so on. That caught my attention.

I started learning more and I found out about the culture of innovation and their big concern with sustainability. And I thought to myself that this would be the perfect opportunity to improve myself and test my way of seeing the world. Then I could also use it to try to make a difference in the world - to solve the problems that we have.

Chalmers was a natural choice for me!

I started by looking at all the Swedish universities. I went about it methodically. I found all the course packages that were applicable to me and then checked all the courses in those packages irrespective of university. I started doing a list of pros and cons of each package. It boiled down to five packages that I found interesting. Five packages that could contribute to my future. Two of those five course packages were offered by Chalmers. One of them was my first choice and is the one I am pursuing now - Sustainable Chemical Engineering. The other course package was Materials chemistry. I think that, Chalmers came up kind of naturally. And after I came here, I realise it even more, that I was right in my initial opinion. It is indeed a university of excellence. Another thing that caught my eye about Chalmers when I was making my choices, was the strong relationship between Chalmers and the industry.


Unfortunately for me, I am almost done with my studies here at Chalmers. I wish it could have gone slower or longer. I really like my courses. I think they are really good to make you think how to solve the problems that we face in the chemical engineering world, like always focussing on how to create solutions to have a technological world, integrated with a sustainable world and I feel that this learning that I am getting will be really helpful in my career and it's like my horizons are broadening with the courses I am taking.

For example, in the course - Global Chemical Sustainability, we had these outside the classroom activities, like visiting museums and so on. I think it was in high school that I last had a field trip that is not like a trip to an industry. I felt like this was done to open my eyes. Also "unfortunately" because, I feel like I have adapted to life here. I actually feel like attending classes at Chalmers. The professors are motivated to teach. They really want us to understand what they are teaching. They are not just writing stuff and they want you to have this broad understanding and not just pass the exam.

Life is good here. If I could I'd stay!

I feel like I'm in the right place for what I am aiming for in my career and in my studies. It feels like the students at Chalmers are an active part of Chalmers. You can feel that you are part of the university and not just using it. I feel like the university really supports the ideas of the students. Like taking for example the different committees and societies, and they have the support of the university to be themselves.

Actually, I don't want to go back. I wouldn't mind a few more years. I am thinking about a master here. Already in the first month I realised that I wanted to come back. At first, I thought about the possibility of continuing here and then go back but again, unfortunately, I have to finish my bachelors back home and so my plan is to go back, finish my bachelors and then try to come back to Sweden as a Master student. It will take some time, but I might be back as early as 2015 since I have only one more year to finish my bachelor's studies.

Come to Sweden to experience a flat world.

I formed my first concrete opinion of Sweden when I tried out for the Sweden - Brazil Without Borders Challenge. It was an official event held by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and I saw it as a way for me to learn more about Sweden. I made it all the way to the final event where it was very nice to see that there were people of different backgrounds and positions in companies who were all sitting at the same level, be it physically or otherwise. You feel like there is no difference between you and the CEO there. It makes you feel like you can become that CEO and that it is simply dependent on you and your work. I recommend Sweden for an experience of a flat world.

Come to Chalmers if you really want to learn.

I would definitely recommend the Science without Borders programme. It is an excellent opportunity to learn and to see the world. I feel that it is a fundamental part in your learning process. Seeing other realities opens your mind. But the combination of Chalmers and education, is what I really recommend. But only to those who really want to learn and work hard. It wouldn't work here of students come here with a take it easy attitude. I feel like I have a lot of work and I like it because I know why I am doing it. It's not random reading or calculations. You see the point behind the courses. It's good hard work. Our country invests a lot of money in us and expects us to give it back in some way. This is a place where that aim can be achieved.

Swedish, Swedes and Cinnamon Buns.

I wanted to learn Swedish, so I just started a course at Folkuniversitet and now I'm proud to say that I am beginning to communicate little by little. Everyday, I am learning and improving. I know that it helps me come in contact with the Swedes at a social level. Swedes are not like Brazilians. They are quiet and a bit shy to start contact with someone. In general, Brazilians are talkative and they communicate a lot. But for a Brazilian, I am a bit reserved, so Sweden is ok for me. I can imagine my dad who is talkative trying to start a conversation in the queue. It will be weird.

However, I have experienced that, everybody that I got the chance to speak with are really nice. But this chance is very hard to get. But once you get the chance if you keep constant touch, it will grow. If there is anything I will miss when I go back it will be the Kanelbullar or Cinammon Buns.

Carolina Braga - My Bio:

  • Science without Borders - Sustainable Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg (September 2013 – present)
  • B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil (March 2010 - Present)
  • Email: caarolbraga@gmail.com

Text: Carolina Braga
Edited by: Abhilash Ram
Photo: Private

Related links

Science without Borders - Sustainable Chemical Engineering
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Ciencia sem Fronteiras
List of Master's Programmes at Chalmers
Scholarships at Chalmers
Country Specific Information for the Federative Republic of Brazil
Charm - A committee of the Student Union which enables contact between students and companies.

Published: Fri 03 Jan 2014. Modified: Mon 25 Jan 2016