Maria-Luiza Takahashi, also known as Malu, is an international student from Curitiba, Brazil. She is currently in her junior year and is double majoring in political science and international studies.
Though Takahashi’s family is from Brazil, she has lived in Sweden, France and now the United States. Her family moved to the U.S. because her father works for a multinational company and wanted to give her the opportunity to go to college in America.
“It’s every person’s dream to study in the United States,” Takahashi said.
An aspect of American culture that Takahashi explained is comparable to her own is the consumption of pop culture.
“In Brazil we have a huge culture of telenovelas. And that is something that you notice has an influence in soap operas and reality tv here in the United States,” Takahashi said.
An aspect of American culture that Takahashi explained is vastly different to her own is the value of family. In Brazil, families are usually pretty big but also very united, and Takahashi expressed that her family means everything to her.
“Picking a college that was further than a 30-minute commute was not something that was on the table because I always have to come back to my family. They are a big priority,” Takahashi said.
The biggest culture shock that Takahashi experienced was the food. Not only is American cuisine vastly different from that in Brazil, but so is the culture that surrounds dining.
Since American culture is fast paced, meals tend to be brief and consist of food that is quickly prepared.
“Eating in different cultures… it's more of a ritual. It’s a thing to get your family together and it’s considered something very sacred,” Takahashi said.
After graduating, Takahashi hopes to work in the international realm, but she also has a passion for government affairs, such as lobbying and writing public policy. She recently finished shadowing a lobbying firm and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It’s good because you do get to represent the needs of the people of the U.S. but also have clients that deal with global issues,” Takahashi said.
While we chatted about our future ambitions, Takahashi shared a really impactful piece of advice with me. She said, “If at the end of the day you do something different or better than you did at the beginning of the day, that’s progress.”
This serves as a reminder to keep striving toward your goals because every step matters — no matter how small.
Thank you Malu for sitting down and sharing your wisdom and culture with me.