Kasper has been in Brazil since January 2017. His internship ends in the summer of 2017. Here is his story:
What made you travel abroad?
Way back before I started at the University of Copenhagen, I had a dream to travel and live abroad. South America has fascinated me ever since the time I spent a part of my gap year working as a volunteer in Bolivia and backpacking in Argentina and Brazil.
It was therefore clear to me that I should try my luck and get an internship at one of the Danish embassies over here.
How did you apply?
I was lucky that I got the internship in Brazil, since I did not speak Portuguese beforehand. Naturally, I have worked really hard to learn it since I got here, as learning the Portuguese language is a requirement to do my job at the embassy. However, because I already spoke Spanish, it was easier for me to learn Portuguese.
I applied for the internship through the embassy's website. On the website, you can find all information regarding the internship at the embassy in Brasilia and the Danish consulate in São Paulo. This is the same for most countries' embassies, so if you are interested in applying for an internship, I suggest you check out the website of the embassy in the country that you are interested in traveling to. The embassies also post vacant internship positions on their Facebook pages, consequently making these pages important to check out.
Is there something you would like to mention about the process?
In my experience, it was really easy to apply. In fact, the whole process was the same as when you apply for any other job - the only twist being that I had to do my job interview through Skype and the conversation was in Danish, English and Spanish.
After that, there were a million practical details that had to fall in place: Plane tickets, vaccines, and the fact that I had to get my internship approved by the University of Copenhagen and find a supervisor for my project-oriented assignment, which I had to write based on my internship. The whole of December was therefore quite stressful, as I also had to say a proper goodbye to my friends and family.
Has the experience been overwhelming? Have you managed to settle down yet?
It definitely took time for me to get used to the heat, and it will probably never be a natural thing for me to run around in a suit, when the temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius. You also have to get used to the fact that water, electricity and internet come and go with regular intervals, and that it is a good idea to check your shoes for scorpions in the morning. Nevertheless, even though Brazil is very different from my old normal life in Copenhagen, I have now - after two months - settled down and gotten very used to things.
What are the people like, where you live? Are they different from Danish people?
Even though this might sound very stereotypical, my impression of Brazilians is that they are open and happy people, who love to party and dance. I especially experienced this a couple of weeks ago, when I was at the carnival in Rio. They are also very curious about me, hospitable, and generally very interested in getting to know foreigners - especially if you speak a little Portuguese. The fact that many people do not speak a lot of English also makes it easier for me to practice my Portuguese.
What is the weirdest thing you have experienced?
If I have to highlight a funny experience, it would be one from a couple of weeks ago at a Bloco (a street party in connection with the carnival). The theme of the party was nightgowns. This meant that EVERYBODY was wearing a nightgown. It was funny and yet quite weird to wear a nightgown for an entire day.
What do you eat where you live?
The traditional Brazilian food is quite heavy in the sense that it is mainly meat, rice and beans in different variations. Fresh juice made from different exotic fruits is also quite popular.
Feijao, farofa, caldo de cana and pastel are some of the traditional dishes (google it! ;-) ).
Where do you live/how is your accommodation?
I live in an apartment at the embassy. The accommodation is super nice, and it is lovely that I only have to walk for two minutes to get to work in the morning. The apartment is free of charge for interns and honestly, it was really a relief that I did not have to worry about finding accommodation when I got over here.
We will try to get back in touch with Kasper when his internship has ended to hear about what competencies from the internship he is bringing back to Denmark.