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Nelson, 33, Department of Romance Philology


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How did you come up with the idea of obtaining a doctorate in Germany and why did you choose the Freie Universität Berlin?

In 2011, I started as a research assistant at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte. Several of my colleagues then encouraged me to expand my scientific boundaries and become acquainted with new academic cultures. In this context, I was told by Professor Alessandra Castilho, who had done her doctorate in Germany, that one of my projects in dialectology could interest Professor Uli Reich. He is an expert in the history of Brazilian Portuguese and works at the Institute of Romance Philology at the Freie Universität. I also discovered that the university has one of the largest libraries in the world specialized in Romance Philology. Then I had no doubt. The Freie Universität would be the best choice for an academic foreign experience.

Who or what helped you with your preparations for your stay at the Freie Universität Berlin? Which tips were helpful?

Before I even arrived in Germany, Professor Wiebke Xavier, who is affiliated with the DAAD, had given me all the necessary information about necessary documents and the certified translations that I needed for my registration at the university. It all went very easy and fast and the speed of recognition of my brazilian studies really surprised me.

What are your expectations for the future after your doctorate at the Freie Universität Berlin?

I would like to maintain the contacts with Freie Universität. And since I have the opportunity to tell my masters and doctoral candidates in Brazil about my experience and advise them, I always give the tip to do part of their research at the Freie Universität. I think it's a basic experience.

What problems or difficulties did you face and how did you solve them?

My difficulties were more in adapting to a new academic way of thinking. In Brazil, we are always focused on the positive points and the right results of our research. In Germany, everything is usually focused on criticism, on the negative aspects of the work, the focus is always on excellence. Today, I find it all funny even. It is important not to take anything personally. An open discussion with the consultant always solves all problems. Everything is very simple.

Is there a specific aspect of the Freie Universität Berlin that you particularly liked?

Academic freedom. I think that in Brazil, we are very dedicated to our students, worrying and always controlling what they should read or do. Here, I experience personal responsibility, which means that I have the freedom to direct my research according to my wishes, but also to bear the consequences of my decisions. I see this since graduating from Freie Universität. I think that's important to develop academically.

What do you like most about life in Germany?

Security and organization. The public transportation is also great. But what I appreciate most is the quality of the orchestra. My ears will never be the same again after my visit to the Berlin Philharmonic.

What advice would you give to Brazilians who are interested in a doctorate in Germany?

Perseverance, discipline and courage. Our creativity and adaptability are highly valued in Germany. Be prepared to listen and use all the learning opportunities. We travel to another country to gain new experiences, whether they are good or difficult. Because getting what we are used to would be home. Find a club, join a choir and enjoy German culture.

What is your favorite word in German?

"Huddelei", a word from the Saxon dialect, "raiva" in Portuguese. I heard it for the first time in a Bach cantata on coffee. I think it's funny.