Beatriz and Tais Ohtani
Twin sisters from São Paulo, Brazil
Beatriz and Tais Ohtani, twin sisters from São Paulo, Brazil, are undergraduate non-degree seeking sponsored students who are here for a year to study industrial engineering (Sponsor: The Brazil Scientific Mobility Program—BSMP).
Q: Would you tell us a bit about the differences between the educational system in Brazil and the United States?
The exam system is different in Brazil. Twice during the semester we have a week set aside just for exams, and we don't have finals. Our university is called ESEG (Escola Superior de Engenharia e Gestao) in São Paulo. The industrial engineering degree at our school is a five year program. Because it is a private university, our classes are small – about 20 students in each class. It was quite a new experience to go to our visual communications class that had 137 students and two big screens in it. After the first day, we learned that we should sit at the front of the room so we could hear and understand the professor. In Brazil, the grading system is set by the school. Here the professor determines the grading percentages for the class. Here we also learned the importance of following the syllabus for the class.
Beatriz and Tais Ohtani
Q: Do you have any favorite Texas Tech traditions? What are some activities outside of the classroom that you have enjoyed?
The traditions of the football games, pep rallies and tailgating have been some of our favorite things at Texas Tech. In our free time, we also enjoy going to the rec center. There is nothing like this at our university in Brazil. We also like to hang out with our friends. We are always surprised about how early the restaurants and bars close in Lubbock. In Brazil, they do not close until 6:00 a.m. It surprised us when we went to eat in a restaurant about 10:00 p.m. and the staff started putting the chairs up in the tables all around us. That was a pretty good signal it was time to leave. In Brazil, you can sit at a table as long as you want.
Q: It must be a unique experience to study together at TTU as twins. What has this experience meant to you? Has it brought you closer?
Beatriz: It is important to me to share these moments with Tais, but it hasn't brought
us any closer. We already were really close.
Tais: It is really good to share this experience with Bia, because I can count on her for everything. With her being here, it helps me miss my family a little less.
We feel very lucky that we both were chosen for the Brazil Scientific Mobility scholarships. We were also very excited when we found out we were going to the same university. Our mother was very happy when she found out we would be together.
Q: Describe some ways in which this experience has made each of you become more independent.
We had to manage our money, and solve any problem that comes up by ourselves.
Q: Please tell us about your home city of São Paulo and what it was like to grow up there. Did you experience culture shock when you first arrived in West Texas?
São Paulo is a huge city with 11.32 million people. Pretty much everything that you can imagine, you can find there. The city is full of buildings, big companies, and traffic. We love São Paulo; we grew up there so we are used to the hustle and bustle of a big city.
Lubbock is really different from São Paulo but we like it. It was amazing when we flew into Lubbock to see everything so flat. We are also amazed that even if there is just a little bit of rain, the campus is flooding. The weather here is even crazier than the weather in São Paulo, and it is too windy.
The size of the campus surprised us. We don't have big campuses like Texas Tech in
our home city. At times we would get lost because the buildings all look the same.
Thank goodness for google maps.
Everything at Tech looks like a movie. Here we live in a dormitory and see cheerleaders, football players and sorority girls. We also feel safer living in Lubbock. We can even ride our bicycles here. We could never do that in Sao Paulo.
Q: Tell us about the community of Brazilian students here at Texas Tech.
We all became close really fast! There are about 20 students here with the Brazil Scientific Mobility program. It is nice and weird how instantly we became friends when we arrived in Lubbock. This group has become our family here at Tech. We get together every chance we can even though at times it is difficult because we are busy. It is really good to have them here to share this experience with us. All of us will be returning to Brazil in August, so we are trying to do all the things we can't do in Brazil while we have the opportunity. Even though we are from all over Brazil, we will definitely keep in touch when we return to our country.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add about Texas Tech, your professors, or what it's been like to live in Texas?
All Texans that we met were nice and welcoming. The professors here are very helpful. American students are more reserved. Brazilians hug and kiss each other when they meet. Many times, Americans think we are boyfriend and girlfriend even when we are just friends.