Daniela’s Exciting South American Trip

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Story edited by Edgar Romero.

Hi everyone!

My name is Daniela Michelle Tafolla Fraga, and I’m currently a member of the AIESEC committee in Guadalajara, Mexico. But my journey with AIESEC actually began a bit earlier, with my internship in São Paulo, Brazil.

My Pandemic Exchange

I graduated with a degree in International Relations in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. This abrupt change forced me to return to my hometown in Michoacán to finish my last semester online. After graduating, I worked in the family business for a year and a half, but I knew I wanted something more. Since I hadn’t yet completed my professional internship, I started looking for something that would take me out of my routine and give me what I was looking for. That’s where AIESEC came in.

Finding the Perfect Internship

Thanks to friends from university, I already knew about AIESEC’s programs. One night, I decided to browse the AIESEC portal and search for internships that fit my profile. In just a few minutes, I found the perfect one: an internationalization internship at Intranet Mall in São Paulo. I didn’t hesitate and applied, and to my surprise, I was accepted within a few days.

São Paulo: A Dream Come True

After a long wait and a few delays due to COVID, I finally arrived in São Paulo in May 2022. It was a dream come true after more than two years of lockdown and pandemic. With my vaccines and fewer worries, I was able to enjoy the vibrant city of São Paulo to the fullest.

Language Challenges and Cultural Immersion

On my first day of work, I walked into a daily meeting with the entire company staff. To my surprise, no one spoke English (one of the application requirements), and I didn’t speak Portuguese. We all laughed at the situation, and using a combination of broken English, a translator, and gestures, we got to work.

The company was a 100% Brazilian company that my boss, the CEO, founded 15 years ago. After working in IT systems for a well-known shopping mall in the city, he decided to take the needs of shopping mall managers and create software around them. Now, he was looking to expand the company to the rest of Latin America, and that’s where I came in.

Market Research and Translation Challenges

I conducted market research focused on Mexico and other countries like Colombia and Peru. Once I was done with that, I had to take on a real challenge: translating the system. By this time, it was my second month, and I was already understanding the language better and could express myself more clearly, but still not at this level. But I was determined to do it, and I spent my second month working on the translation with great care.

Beyond Work: Gastronomy, Friendships, and Adventures

Outside of work hours, I also had many exciting experiences. One of my favorites was trying Brazilian cuisine: feijoada, coixinhas, farofa, buffet  food to take home in a lunchbox, brigadeiros, the many varieties of açai and pastries, and caipirinhas, especially the passion fruit ones.

I also met some really cool people: other trainees from all over Latin America, people from my own city, and many Brazilians who welcomed me with open arms, like my hosts, a lovely family of two professional skaters, mother and daughter, who made my experience even better. My first roommate was from Nigeria, and my second was from Costa Rica. I met so many amazing people who I will never forget.

A Few Hiccups Along the Way

Of course, there were a few bumps in the road. I had to go to the hospital twice, get a COVID test, and even got a wound that required me to get a tetanus shot at the municipal health system. But even those experiences, I believe, added to my overall experience.

Making the Most of My Time

Despite everything, I was able to see a great deal of São Paulo in just two months, including all the important sights and even a weekend getaway with friends to the wonderful Rio de Janeiro.

A Rewarding Internship Experience

Returning to the internship, the experience ended with a presentation of my work to the entire company. I was nervous, but I did my best to explain my research, translation, and cultural immersion experiences. The feedback was very positive, and I was even offered a full-time job!

A Life-Changing Experience

This internship in São Paulo completely changed my life. It challenged me in all the right ways, and I came out of it with a new language, a deeper appreciation for Brazilian culture, and a ton of skills that will help me launch my career. If you’re looking for an adventure that will push you to grow, you absolutely have to check out AIESEC internships!


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