Bobcat Faces: Juliana Brandão Valdés

From São Paolo to San Marcos,
globe-trotting student finds her place

By Billi London-Gray

Juliana Brandão Valdés knew what she was looking for when she decided to leave Brazil to study in the United States.

“As an international student, what I want the most is to feel at home. That’s what I felt when visiting Texas State for the first time,” she says.

Originally from São Paolo, Brazil, Valdés had always dreamed of studying abroad. As a high-school student, she worked part-time for an international student travel agency. After graduating from high school, she attended an English-language school and completed several university courses in Brazil before moving to Austin in 2005 to work as an au pair for two years.

“I was ready to do something different,” she says. “Since I worked at an international student travel agency, it certainly made the process easier for me.”

Besides taking care of the children of the family she lived with, Valdés took continuing education classes at Austin Community College and the University of Texas. She planned on returning to Brazil to complete her undergraduate degree, until life threw her a curve ball.

“I met my boyfriend here, who is my husband today,” she explains. “After we got married and made the decision that we would keep living here, I decided to continue my bachelor’s degree in the United States.”

After taking some international business classes and starting her core curriculum classes at ACC, Valdés was encouraged by friends — including a fellow Brazilian who had transferred to Texas State — to look into the university in San Marcos.

“All of them said Texas State has smaller classes and the most friendly professors, compared to other local universities. Plus, Texas State had the program I was looking for with the best selection of classes and professors with excellent ratings,” she says. “This made my decision, because studying abroad becomes less difficult with friendly people willing to help and give you attention.”

After going through the transfer process, Valdés advises other international transfer students to “do a lot of research online and try to talk to somebody who already experienced the same thing they are about to experience.”

She also received assistance from the academic department to which she was transferring. “Long before I started the process of transferring, I contacted Roxanne Lee, who is the advisor for International Studies,” Valdés says. “She was very encouraging and helpful to me. She answered my emails and calls promptly and was able to respond to all my questions.”

Having just gone through New Student Orientation, Valdés is on track to graduate in 2013. She’s majoring in international studies with a minor in international relations.

“I really like dealing with different cultures,” she says. “My goal is to work at an institution where I can interact with different cultures, countries and languages.”

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