Montevallo is a dream come true

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, February 16, 2010

With an enthusiastic smile on her face, Francele Assumcao talked about her experiences while studying at the University of Montevallo.

Last August, she left her parents and two younger sisters in Brazil to join 64 other international students in the exchange program at UM.

She came for the experience itself and to improve her English — her speech is delightful with just a hint of an accent.

“Montevallo’s student exchange with two universities in Brazil has opened up wonderful opportunities for our students and faculty,” said Jim Farris, director of the Study-Away program.

“We have the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about one of America’s major trade partners, offer a new language at Montevallo, Portuguese, and make life-long friends who enrich our lives. Francele is the second Brazilian student to remain at Montevallo a second semester; we are glad that she chose to stay with us.”

Francele is studying French, English and business this semester.

She is working toward a degree in secretarial science at her home school, the University of Vigosa.

Across a table at Eclipse, we talked about the differences in life here and in her hometown of Volta Redonda in Southeast Brazil.

She explained that it’s much colder here — with many gray days — rather than the bright sunny days to which she is accustomed.

She was excited, though, to see her very first snow flakes.

“Another big difference is in the food,” she said.

“At home, we eat lots of beans and rice. I was glad to find those most every day at the café. Here in the U.S., the students eat lots of burgers, pizzas, fries and sodas. I like all the desserts, and the dressing and pumpkin pies served at my friend’s house during the holidays were really good.”

Francele talked about how she loves UM and how friendly the teachers and students are.

She did mention that they are not as openly affectionate as Brazilians.

They don’t hug and kiss on the cheek — she misses that.

She thinks that all students complain about the homework and the teachers, but they do adore the parties.

Our new Brazilian friend, who will leave us in May, offered a great compliment to Montevallo and to its exchange program when she said, “I had a dream to come here. I prayed that God would lead me and he listened to my prayers. I will come back, don’t know how or when, but I do surely want to come back.”

Catherine Legg can be reached at