Calu Malta - “São Paulo, Brazil To Bristol, England”


Calu Malta

Despite the relentless efforts of the British weather, my mood is only sometimes dampened by the cold. I am a 20-year-old Brazilian student, fascinated by books and films; hence the pursuit for a Film and English degree.

When I found out that I had gotten the grades needed to attend the University of Bristol in mid-July in 2014, I felt a strange mix of excitement and fear. The excitement was there because it had been years of working towards this; I now had an opportunity to experience a completely different culture and live in a completely different country, and to do so in one of the best universities in the world. The fear existed for the exact same reasons: I was worried about whether or not I’d adapt to a foreign country, and whether or not I would live up to my expectations of myself and of Bristol, a city I had never been to before.  

Leaving my family behind proved to be more difficult than I expected. I was 17 at the time; in Brazil, that is considered young to be moving away from your parents. I have three half-siblings, all of which are much younger than me: they were six, three and two at the time of my departure. Their lack of understanding was difficult to bear – they didn’t understand why I felt sad. They were the ones that consoled my mum and I as we cried: ‘we will see you soon’, they repeated. The pain I felt (and still feel) in knowing I was only going to see them every six months or less was, at times, crippling.


My sister trying to pack herself in my suitcase

Luckily I didn’t board the plane to England alone. My dad came with me, and stayed for two weeks as I adapted: we spent the first week in London, and the second in Bristol. That first week was essential in making both my dad and I fall in love with England. In terms of food, we ate things we had never tried before: an Eton Mess, a full English breakfast, even a typical afternoon tea. We went to museums, walked down the Thames and went to Camden. There was so much to see that we felt exhausted by the end: we were also shocked at how unbearably cold it already was in September. But that week was invaluable because it made me realize that, despite the cold, England was a place I could see as my home.


After a long day in London with my dad