From Brazil to Canada: another inspiring story!
Alessandra Gonçalves de Melo – Doctorat en microbiologie (PhD in Microbiology)
Being a full PhD student at Université Laval has been a great experience so far. As a Microbiology student, I have been in a very exciting scientific environment where I have the opportunity to perform cutting edge research and be part of a group that is known globally by its research with bacteriophage and CRISPR (the prokaryotes adaptive immune system that has been used as a genome editing tool). As a result, I have opportunities that I just dreamed of and it has been an intensive learning and productive experience for me. At UL, I have access to a number of facilities that allows my PhD to progress in fast pace (e.g. platform for genes and genome sequencing, proteomics, electron microscopy and others), and the laboratory is fully equipped with reagents, materials and equipment.
In terms of mentorship, my advisor has been a great leader who I deeply admire! He is very dynamic, intelligent and a great scientist. Definitely, I could not ask for better! Although UL is a francophone University, I have been able to perform my graduate studies in English and learn French while I am here (but it changes from group to group). However, knowing French it is definitely a way to enjoy life in Quebec even more. The university staff is in general very nice and helpful with all the issues and questions that I had so far. I have also to mention the experience applying for the full PhD in a fast track program intermediated by CALDO. CALDO program coordinator was very caring and efficient! The experience was great and very fast, and I had assistance during all the process.
Life wise, live in a country so different of ours it is a very challenging but also rewarding experience. You learn a lot about yourself and it makes you stronger and better adapted to other societies, cultures and environments, learning how to deal with obstacles that you were not used to. As a bonus for studying at Université Laval, I live in Quebec City! Quebec is lovely, touristic and it is the most European city in North America, which makes it very charming. I always feel delighted when I go to the Old City, especially during summer, to enjoy life in a touristic place. Quebec is also very safe and has many parks and activities that we can enjoy throughout the year! Although winter here is beyond a Brazilian imagination, as soon as you learn the tricks (“dress warmly and in layers”, “protect the body extremities”, “always check the forecast”, “take vitamin D”, “choose a winter sport”, “do something fun outside”, etc.), you start enjoying it a lot, in fact, even more that we enjoy in our home country.
From my experience, I cannot do anything except encourage people to choose Université Laval for graduate studies!