MITACS Globalink Research Intern 2017

August 19, 2017
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Julieta Alvarado was the Mitacs Globalink intern with MODAL Research group for Summer 2017. She is a psychology student at the Universidad de Guadalajara (UDG) in Mexico. She has a deep interest in psychoanalysis, with a passion for all kinds of arts, especially painting and writing. She also works as an English teacher for children.

Ever since she attended Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary, Alberta for the 2016 Fall semester, she couldn’t wait to come back again to Canada: “I’ve always thought of Canada as an incredible academic destination, where they have high quality professors and a wide variety of resources to support students and their learning”.

Julieta randomly found the information about MITACS on a website and read about the application process: at first, she thought it was a lot of paper work and that the possibilities of being accepted were scarce. But then, thinking about it twice, she decided to apply, because she had nothing to lose and possibly an amazing experience to win.

When she was accepted in the research project she ranked as her first option (SFU, Burnaby Campus), she couldn’t believe it: “Since the first moment I had contact with my professor and she told me that they were excited to meet me and start working together, I felt so happy and proud of my decision of applying, everybody in MODAL surprised me with their warmth and friendliness”.

Through her time at MODAL, Julieta says she has gained a deep interest in the qualitative research process: “I learned that no matter what, it is always important to have your data organized, because knowing where to find things helps to have a control when you have tons of videos, screenshots and interviews to examine, everything is relevant. I think the beauty of qualitative methodology is that it shows less quantifiable aspects of the individuals: their stories, and their subjective perceptions of what’s going on”.

At MODAL, Julieta assisted with transcriptions, research databases in Excel, SPSS and iMovie, video descriptions and time stamping, as well as doing some coding and narrative analysis for an intercultural research project between Canada and Brazilian university students.

She interpreted her journey as a way of defining her theoretical approach and constructing new ideas from different points of view: “What I really liked about working with my Brazilian partner was that we functioned as a team, we were hearing each other attentively and complementing our thoughts. He really cared about what I wanted to say or suggest so I felt like we were friends, so working with him was fun and an enriching experience”, she says.

Julieta fell in love with Vancouver and the nature that surrounds the campus, nevertheless she was surprised of some cultural differences between Mexico and Canada: “It is unbelievable how well organized  the public transport is and how safe it is to walk on the streets at any time of the day. It’s something I don’t usually feel in my country, and that’s really sad. I loved finding rabbits and deer in my backyard and going to University felt like walking into the woods”. 

Julieta is thinking about doing a graduate degree that has to do with arts to complement her background in psychology. She wishes to travel, keep painting, improve her French and continue learning about research, but being in Canada is definitely an experience she will never forget.

The Mitacs Globalink Research Internship is a competitive initiative for international undergraduates from Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. From May to September of each year, top-ranked applicants participate in a 12-week research internship under the supervision of Canadian university faculty members in a variety of academic disciplines, from science, engineering and mathematics to the humanities and social sciences.