Developing my English skills in New York for a career in engineering
Alexandre works as a chemical engineer in Brazil. He wanted to improve his English to open up new opportunities in his career. Here, he tells us about his experience of studying on the Diploma of Intensive English and living at Kings New York whilst getting to know the American culture.
Please tell us your name and where you are from.
My name is Alexandre Cordeiro De Oliveira, from Brazil. I am from Sao Paolo. It’s the most important city in South America. It’s like Manhattan — it’s a big city with a lot of traffic. It’s a beautiful place to work, but not too nice to live in. I like this kind of place to live in (Bronxville, NY), nice, green with big houses and gardens. I also have a house in Sorocaba. I have 2 kids and 2 dogs. I have studied a lot in my life. In 1997 I completed a degree in chemical engineering and after that I completed a degree in quality engineering, and I also studied pharmacy.
You have shared that you are a chemical engineer working in a leadership position at a large company in Brazil. We are honored that you found the time to come to Kings New York and study English with us! Tell us a little bit more about what your job entails.
Part of my job is to lead a big group of people; to deliver the best product that the customers want to buy. I need to manage a lot of things. I need to manage the relationships with colleagues, conflicts among team members, and most importantly, provide a good working environment for the employees. When you have a positive working environment, you get the most out of your employees.
The world has changed a lot. In the past, you could provide any kind of product to the customer and they would still buy it. But nowadays, we need to provide the best product with green labels while using resources efficiently.
There are some things that really surprised me in the U.S. For example, I see a lot of plastic everywhere. If I want to buy an orange here, sometimes it’s placed in a plastic box. It’s already peeled! I am shocked at how many things are disposable. In Brazil we don’t use disposable dishes, for example. I believe that the American people should care about the environment.
Brazilian people also need to learn things from the Americans. We have a beautiful place in Brazil called Jaricoacoara. It’s a wild, beach place. Some people think this place has the most beautiful sunset, but I saw the most amazing sunset near the Brooklyn Bridge. It looks like the government has invested money in developing the area around the Brooklyn Bridge for the tourists, and you see no garbage on the streets. I think the Brazilian people can learn from the Americans how to use the potential of a place and make it the best and beneficial for the visitors and the businesses.
What made you decide to come to Kings and choose the course you are doing?
I lost many great opportunities in my career because I can’t speak fluent English and I never had time to study English because I was very busy with my career. Now I have a little bit of a break so I decided to come to New York because the location is just excellent. I searched Kings New York on the internet and I found that it was the best deal in terms of the price and the quality of studies. This school also has many Brazilian students. Also, the teachers are very professional.
In your class, what do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the conversation class the most. The teachers are very effective and they know how to teach, even grammar, without making it boring! Teachers give students incentives to talk, to talk, to talk. If you’d like to be in the US to talk to talk to talk, come here to Kings NY! It’s time to talk! My listening also improved a lot.
What elective class [afternoon class, SIG] do you take? What do you do in the class?
I regularly attend the weekly Coffee and Conversation/Career Guidance sessions with teacher Cristina. This is the best class really to improve your speaking skills. The teacher has a lot of knowledge about the American culture, how businesses work in the U.S. The class is so dynamic and interesting that sometimes you forget to take the coffee! One of my favorite sessions was on the '11 Rules of Life You Will Never Learn in School' by Bill Gates. We had a discussion for 3 hours on expressions about life such as “Life is not divided into semesters”, “What you see on TV is not real life”, and “Your parents know something you don’t know”.
This is really an amazing class. The teacher lets us talk so much and she corrects our pronunciation very respectfully. She teaches us very useful vocabulary such as “six figure salary”, “hold your horses” “something is not beneath your dignity”. The most important thing here is that she can talk about anything that the student is interested in. She tailors the class to our interests.
Please tell us about your best memory while you are at Kings
The first time that I was able to understand everything in the listening activity that a teacher did. And I could summarize what I heard. I could repeat, I could write about it. That was my best time!
What do you think of the school's location?
Bronxville is a very safe place. I want to tell fathers especially, not to be worried to send their daughters. It is a very, very safe place. It’s very quiet and green and beautiful. And public transportation here is excellent. Only 40 minutes to Grand Central. There is a train 2 times per hour. Very easy to get to Manhattan.
Where are you staying? Please tell us about your accommodation.
I am staying in Koepchen Hall. It is very near to our classrooms and dining halls. It’s a great place to live with students from other countries. We have students there from Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and other countries. Everyone respects each other in this house.
Christie, the Kings Student Experience Coordinator, lives there as well and she is very good with students. She gives us space but also pays attention if anything needs attention. Also, the facilities people are there every time there is something to be fixed. I really enjoy living in this house. It reminds me of the time when I lived in a dormitory in college.
What would you say to anyone considering coming to Kings to study?
First of all, I would say it’s a beautiful and very safe place. You can live here in Bronxville and Tuckahoe in a very relaxed place. If you like more exciting places, you can get on the train and you’ll be in Manhattan in 40 minutes. Public transportation is excellent here. You can get the train, subway, bus. At the same time, there are apps for NY transportation systems. First time I saw the NYC subway, I thought it was crazy but then the subway map and Google Maps helped me a lot. It’s very easy! I recommend one more thing for young students. To get 4G internet so that you are connected to internet while you are out in the city. It is very useful for Google maps.
The door is always open in the office. If you need to talk to the director Nino, or Chris, or Jodi, or Christie, you can come in any time. The speed of internet is very good. I highly recommend. It’s a good place to live and study English and learn about American culture.
Alexandre and some other Kings students decorated the residence hall for Halloween.