An interview with the lovely Geovane Barros, our one and only second year exchange student of the Fall 2014 semester. He arrived in Canada in the September of 2013. Since then, he has learned the English language, experienced a semester of Carleton’s architecture program and has returned home to Brazil to tell friends and family about (the good and the bad of) Ottawa.
1.Tell me about your home university and the city it is located in.
My home university [Uniron in Porto Velho, Brazil] is not big like Carleton. My city is 400,000 people. The classes are like here, 50 or 60 people per class. I like it there. It is small but I like it there, I have good friends.
2. What was the application process like to get into that university?
It is pretty simple actually, because it is private university, so we don’t have much competition. You just do a test, and if you pass, you get in. The history test, the Portuguese test… And we don’t have this kind of portfolio thing for undergraduate programs, just for Masters and graduation.
3. What was it like learning English?
I’m still learning actually. It was very, very good, because I didn’t know English when I came to Canada. I studied here at Carleton. They have a different school inside Carleton, it is called Culture Works. They teach four levels – A, B, C and D. I studied A, C and D. It was very good, I met a lot of people – a lot of great people, a lot of great professors.
4. Why did you choose Carleton’s Architecture program?
I had three options because I am on scholarship – Calgary, Carleton and Waterloo. And then I chose Carleton… why did I choose Carleton? Because I heard you guys had a great architecture program here – here, Waterloo and Calgary, so I put those three. And it is the Capital – close to Toronto and Montreal and New York, so it is great. Nice city, safe, clean.
5. What did you find most difficult to adapt to in studio?
English first. Then it is kind of messy… But I mean, it is good… I didn’t have my table for the three first weeks, and I was really worried about that. At home we have a big studio, like here, but everyone has their tables. We don’t have to buy anything, even lockers, all that stuff. Even the T-square, they have everything. So I said ‘Oh, we have to buy a T-square here?’ ‘Ya.’ Okay, I’m like, that’s fine. Now I am okay.
6. How do the professors at Carleton compare to your professors back home?
Oh, they are really different. In Brazil, they are so strict. They are like ‘This is wrong. This is so wrong.’ Here they are more comprehensive, more quiet, and they understand you more than in Brazil. That is the most different thing.
7. How do the expectations of work differ between the schools?
In my school, we don’t have these steps like here. We don’t have like analysis and models. The professor, they give you the house to design, they give you requirements for the house – like it has to be this size, and that’s it – for four or five people. And then you have to design since the beginning, since the Studio 1. That is the most different thing, I think. They don’t follow you like here. They don’t talk with you every day. You can go talk with them, but you have to go there, to their office and talk with them. They don’t come and talk to you nicely, like here.
8. What is your must have tool while working in studio – other than your phone and laptop?
Can I say woodshop? The machines there. And my camera too. And my iPad.
9. Do you have woodshop at your university?
No, we don’t actually. Different universities, they do, but my university, they don’t. We don’t work with a lot of wood. We work more with PVC, the plastic. We can do it at home, we don’t have to use the woodshop.
10. Share a slightly embarrassing experience you’ve had while on campus.
Uh, my presentations? That is the most embarrassing. Presentations are, even for you and native speakers, and for me… I have to say every word I thought. They make me so nervous.
11. How does Carleton’s campus compare to your home university?
I think you guys have more areas to work. In my university, we have just classrooms. We have a space for studio, but it is quite different. It is not like here when you go every day and you work. People actually don’t work at university there, they work at home. You guys have more space to work.
12. Who is the most interesting person you have met in the Architecture program?
Me and Darwin, we have an interesting story actually. Because I had him on Facebook, I don’t know how! I think I added him – I am not sure – but I think I added him like three years ago through an architecture group. I was eating in a place and then he texted me ‘Hey, you’re Geovane, right? Are you studying at Carleton?’. I said ‘Yes’, and he said ‘Oh my gosh, you are in the same bay as me.’ I said ‘Oh. My. Gosh.’ I cannot believe. So he is the most interesting person. That is crazy. It is a small world. I was in Brazil and I added him.
13. How long have you been in Canada and how long do you plan on staying here?
I’ve been here for one year and three months. I had to study English. I studied English for one year. I plan to stay here until January.
14. What is your favourite thing to do in Ottawa that you can’t do at home?
Ice skating. We don’t have any – I think we have two or three in the whole country.
15. Where is your favourite place in Ottawa? How and when did you find it?
Dow’s Lake. I like the lake view, in the summer especially. It is a nice place to chill. I play volleyball there, I played a lot of volleyball there.
16. What is something you don’t quite understand about Canadian culture?
Food. You don’t have like defined food, like Canadian food. You have poutine, but I mean… Because we have rice, beans, and usually beef every day. You guys don’t have something that you eat every day. You don’t, right? Ya, you don’t. We have. That is a different thing about Canadian culture. ‘What do you guys eat?’ ‘Well I like Chinese food, I like Thai food…’ But [what about] Canadian food?
17. What’s the one thing you want to do the most before leaving Ottawa?
To meet all the people I met and take photos with them. And skiing too. I haven’t yet.
18. What is something you forgot to pack when you came to Canada?
My cellphone charger. Yes, I actually forgot that. What else? Winter stuff. I didn’t bring any winter stuff. Because my city is so hot. It is 35 degrees in the summer, and the winter is like 25. So we don’t have any winter clothes, so I had to buy everything.
19. What is your favourite food that you tried for the first time while in Canada?
Poutine. I liked poutine. And beavertails.
20. How do you like the house you are current living in?
Oh, I like it so much. I live in homestay. Like a house family that I pay for, for the room and the food. So they prepare the food. I like it a lot there. [It is] a nice place. My host mother, she is so cool.
21. What do you think of the public transit system?
I like the transport system, but I think some improvements can be done. For example, the O-train station is not heated. So sometimes we stand for like 15 minutes in the cold. A subway in Ottawa would be good, but they are making the LRT system, right? So, ya, overall, I like the Ottawa transportation.
22. When you arrive home, what will be the first thing you will tell your family / friends about?
My friends of the university, I will tell them how the program is here, my work, my drawings. For my family, I am going to tell about my roommates and about the teachers I had, and all the work that I have done. Mostly about my life. The winter – how’s the winter, how’s the snow.