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February 2004
From Brazil to Birmingham
Scheila doing a bit of sighseeing
Scheila doing a bit of sight seeing
Scheila Maliska came to Birmingham in March 2003 through a student scheme run by AIESEC.

She wanted to experience a new country and culture - but couldn't image how different it would be to her native Brazil.

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My name is Scheila Maliska and I was born in Brazil. My mom's family is Italian and my dad's side is Polish.

When I was 18 years old I was at University in Brazil, taking Computer Science. I went to USA for one year as an International Exchange Student in Missouri. My wish was to stay but it would be a lot of money, so I went back to Brazil.

I carried on studying and also I was going from one job to another, earning money and getting more responsibility.

Finally in July 2000 I graduated and now I have a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. I then decided to do an MBA.

Looking for a work placement abroad

In the middle of the course I started to look on the Internet for summer jobs, and end up finding AIESEC - a organisation run by students that help other students find work placements.

I finished my course in January 2003, by which time AIESEC had matched me with 'Network Disaster Recovery' in Birmingham.

I wanted to see a different country and culture. The language was a barrier in the beginning, more the accent than anything else - my English was American.

Arriving in Birmingham

I arrived on the 5th of March 2003 and had a warm reception with members of AIESEC meeting me at the airport, and giving me all the support on the first days, taking me to my new house, my work and showing me the first steps.

Scheila swimming
Scheila swimming
At first I was the only trainee at NDR, so they didn't know me and how experienced I was. I had to show them what I was capable of.

After 6 months I was a full time employee, so it's one of those things "be in the right place at the right time with the right experience".

I didn't want to change much of my routine that I had in Brazil - before coming to England I found a Master Swimming club I could join - in this way I could keep going to competitions and training sessions.

Life in Birmingham

I am now a member of FHM Master Swimming Club and also Heart of England, which compete in international competitions.

A curry
Going for a curry
I made many new friends from my job, from AIESEC and from the swimming club.

Being here I am also able to travel around Europe. Last year I went to Paris and Amsterdam, and this year I will be going to German, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

It's being great to be here to get to know another culture and improve my English - I am already in love with an Indian curry and like to go out clubbing.

A culture shock

I knew England by the movies and what I know about history. I looked on the Internet for things about Birmingham - the culture of the city, what's on, the sights - and I found many articles about "Balti" restaurants. I really didn't get the picture until I got here and had my first experience.

Scheila  with some of her Aiesec friends
Scheila with some of her Aiesec friends

Before coming to England I thought I could travel around Europe, listen to the beautiful accents and get to see all white people with ginger hair.

When I arrived I really had a cultural shock, because I didn't expect to see people from so many different nationalities, and see women dressing in different ways of covering themselves.

I had to get used to the culture and habits, and stop looking at the "Turbant" on some people's head - I really hadn't seen them before.

I didn't know anyone before coming here, so I had the support of AIESEC, NDR and some other trainees that arrived the same time I did, and we became very good friends.

I am really into the culture now.

Shopping is expensive, but I love the clubbing

I like going shopping here, but everything is much more expensive than Brazil, so I tend to go for the sales and also alternative cheap shops.

I think the shops close too early, but a good point is that they are open on Sunday.

Scheila out clubbing
Scheila out clubbing

Going out clubbing was always something that I liked. I like going to Broadstreet sometimes, even going to student nights and listening to "cheese music" - I like real live bands.

I think Flares is a fun place to go, but also go to Godskitchen, where they bring all the best DJs.

I haven't been to any festivals yet, but this year I want to go and also have already booked some concert tickets for Shanaia Twain, Sting, Eric Clapton and Elton John.

I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for anything

Scheila's cat Garfield

For me being here is an opportunity to know another world, things that I could not reach before and now is possible.

My only concern is being away from my family, my cat, my friends, but it's all part of the challenge, and once I am here it's also an opportunity for them to come and visit me and get to know another culture, except for Garfield my cat.


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