Video: It is Possible to Adapt to & Study in the U.S.

Lucas with University of Minnesota golden gopher mascot
Lucas Nadólskis, a blind student in computer science at the University of Minnesota, shares how he became interested in study in the United States and how the process has been for him in taking admission exams, learning contracted and nemeth braille, navigating the campus and interacting with roommates.

Thanks to the University of Minnesota for producing this video! Find this video also on YouTube and open its captions.

Transcript for the Video

My name is Sue Lingren and I work at the University of Minnesota disability office where I’ve worked with Lucas. My name is Lucas Nadolski. I am an international student coming from Brazil and I have been at the University of Minnesota for one year now.

Living in Brazil is not easy for no one. For a disabled person, someone with a disability it is harder. You can't have the kind of life in Brazil that you can have in the U.S. My dad when I was around six years old, seven years old, he told me "You are going to learn English. If you want to have good major, want to study, you need to learn English and you need to go to the United States.”

Just before my first year of high school I decided I would not take any Brazilian test to try to go to Brazilian universities - I was like that was not what I want, so I'm going to apply for the U.S.  The first part was hard because either people didn't believe in that or did not think it was possible. I know it's a hard process but that’s exactly what I want.  

When everybody was studying for national Brazilian exams or something like that, I was thinking of studying for SATs. And I took first SAT six months after I finished high school. They didn't have the test available in uncontracted braille, that is the kind we use in Brazil, they just had it in contracted braille, which is the kind they use in the United States. So I prepared to take my SAT orally because that was the only possibility.

And then after that I decided I needed to learn contracted braille. I found a place in Miami at Miami Lighthouse, that is the institution I went under to learn contracted braille. I learned that you have nemeth which is for math that I didn't know before I came here.

My mainly concern when I apply here was how large the university was - it is a very big campus - how will I walk here and how to go to classes and how to do other things -- how will the mobility work?

In Brazil I have not walked alone. It is hard because the sidewalks are not repaired. Our subway system is not prepared for people with disabilities. Every time I walk there I was either with my mom or my dad or anyone from my family or with some friends. So, I needed to learn again how to use a cane and get new instruction and how to actually live alone.

When I came here, it was an issue for the first time, I’m not going to lie. But I found out you had a service, paratransit, which is really helpful to bring from one class to other because as I told you it is a large campus. But it’s still having this mobility instruction was really, really helpful.

One really useful point would be to give some sort of mobility instruction for a student when he or she comes to the university. Having someone walking with the student through the buildings. For example, I just figured out you have braille on door numbers, for example room 508, I just found out a couple months ago because someone told me.

Going with the student to particular building and going with the student to the building where he or she will have classes and here is the door of the building so that is the way that you are going to do it. That will take one or at most two days and it would make all the difference.

When I had that meeting with you and you told me how things worked with students with disabilities and what kind of services you had and that you had students with disabilities before and you had a lot of them right now.

And another thing that was impressive with me was meeting with the advisor of the computer science department. “How will a blind guy will make this? How are you going to work with programming and work with graphs and all those things?” And the guy we speaking with, the advisor in the computer science department, he’s like “I don’t understand your concern." That’s kind of secure feeling that he passed to us, that was really impressive. My dad was like “They know how to do this.” And I felt that too.

If in Brazil you ask how am I going to work in programming everybody is like "I have absolutely no idea." Here they were like "do it". That was same day I had meeting with you. That was the day I decided I'm coming here.

The experience of roommate. I came to a new country to live alone with someone I have never met before. And I had no idea how the person would be. If they would be nice? If they would be bad? Would they have a very different culture than me? Would they not be open minded about how to live with someone that is blind? That was the biggest challenge and the best part.  

The part that I needed to change myself, my personality, my way of life, how I am, in order to live in a new community that I didn't know. It is hard but it is possible. That’s the main part. It’s possible. In the end it is possible.