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From São Paulo, Brazil to San Luis Obispo, California

On a sunny September day in San Luis Obispo, Rafaella (Ella) Gibin, the second year architecture major who happens to be my talented roommate, arrived ready to take on her new life at Cal Poly. She traveled a long 22 hours from São Paulo, Brazil and was excited to see California. While waiting in a long line for our Acai bowls, I figured now would be a perfect opportunity to ask Ella some questions.

Why did you choose Cal Poly?

I chose Cal Poly because of their hands-on architecture program. I did not want to stay in Brazil because I do not like the politics and do not see it improving anytime soon. My mom was really worried about me going out of the country, but I was very excited to live alone. I miss my younger sister Giovanna, but she is also out of the country, about to go to veterinarian school in Australia. 

Have you visited the United States before? 

Yes, once when I was five, when I went to Disneyland with my family. When I was 15, we took another trip to Disneyland. (She then asked me if we could take our own trip to Disneyland soon, and I said yes of course). 

How was your first year of Cal Poly online in Brazil?

The time difference led me to some issues. Since we are 4 hours ahead in Brazil, I had a 6:00pm pacific time class but it did not start until 10:00pm my time. I would be up from 10:00pm to 11:00pm two days out of the week just doing classes! The classes were pretty easy though, and I did not have to pay for housing for the year since I was at home. 

What has the culture shock been like here?

At first, I thought it was going to be easy, but as time went on, it got harder for me. The Brazilian community is filled with warm and inviting people. The people here are more distant and do not talk as much. I have met a group of Brazilians and I like having them around because they bring me those comforting feelings that I miss from home. 

A loss for Brazil has been an amazing gain for Cal Poly!

Clare Zianno

Cal Poly '24

Hi everyone!! I am a 2nd year English major at Cal Poly, editorial staff member at CP Her Campus, and love anything pop culture :)
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