GCA communications intern, Haley Sandell (H), sat down with freshman graduate Urban Design student, Virginia Paiva (V), to talk about being an international student at Gibbs! Read on for highlights, or click the link below to access the full podcast.

V: Hi Haley! I want to thank you for the invitation. I am very excited to participate in this podcast.

H: Hey, Virginia! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

V: I’m an international student from Brazil. I am attending the Master’s program in urban design at OU-Tulsa. I just concluded my first year of the program and I can’t wait to start the second year. It has been a great learning experience.

H: Can you speak on your background in architecture?

V: Sure! I did my undergrad back in Brazil, and since I graduated in 2009 I have been working on different areas of architecture. Real Estate Development, Industrial Architectural projects, Interior design and Architecture projects in general. After 10 years of work experience, I felt like I should improve my knowledge and start to study again.

H: What was it like coming to OU from Brazil?

V: I can say that it has been an amazing experience, for sure. At first because of the huge economic disparity between both countries. And second, for all the learning experience that I have been able to acquire.

H: What made you choose OU?

V: I started to look for courses that were related to city development and I found the Urban Design Studio. And I thought that a small program could give me a better learning experience.

H: Why did you decide to study urban design?

V: Of all the architectural areas that I worked in, Real Estate Development was the area that I liked the most. So, I decided to look for a course that would help me to have a broad view of city development. And I can say that I made a good choice because I am really enjoying it so far.

H: So, since you just finished your first year at OU, I’m sure you’ve worked on quite a few projects. Can you tell us about one of your favorites?

V: Yes, sure! As you said I have work on different projects during my first year, and each one gave me a different learning experience, but I would like to mention the last one that I worked on the Urban Design Studio Class. The Maple Ridge Great Street project. I can say that this one is my favorite because it was an unusual project for me, where we worked directly with the community during all phases of the project, even during the design phase. It was a challenging experience at first, I would say. But in the end, we had a great learning experience.

Image credit: Virginia Paiva, student presenting the Maple Ridge Great Street project; from left: Samui Haque, Dylan Rumsey, Sherry Smith, Alex O’Connell, and Virginia Paiva.

H: What is your favorite thing about GCA?

V: I would say that my favorite thing about GCA is the Urban Design Studio projects because the way that the student works with real projects and real clients is the best way to prepare the student for the job market in my opinion.

H: When/ why did you first become interested in Urban design?

V: I would say that since I started work with Real Estate Development.

H: What should prospective students know about your major that would help them succeed?

V: The UDS course is very challenging because you are invited all the time to manage projects and make decisions but it also brings you an amazing learning experience. So I would say that do not be afraid to make questions, make decisions, and be creative.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.