My name is Lucas Mendonca and I’m from Brazil. I moved to Canada as an international student in December 2017. After completing my education, I had the opportunity to intern with Arrive, an RBC Venture. This internship eventually led to a full-time offer with Arrive and I currently work in the role of Product Marketer, assisting with product growth and analytics for Arrive.
Holiday celebrations in Canada are slightly different from Brazil…
Christmas in Canada is an emotional time for my wife and I because when we first came here in 2017, it was just the two of us, away from our families in Brazil. We were celebrating the holidays and making the best of what we had amidst our struggles of finding accommodation, overcoming language barriers, and trying to settle in. Over the past two years, we’ve come a long way! Today, we have friends here who are like family — and since most of them moved to Canada from Brazil, it almost feels like home! We get together for dinner on Christmas Eve and enjoy a night filled with conversations, fun, and laughter.
In Brazil, everyone traditionally spends Christmas with family. It’s a time for people to meet, share delicious meals, and exchange gifts while playing the Brazilian version of Secret Santa (which is similar to the White Elephant Gift Exchange). Festivities continue until the New Year when we once again get together with friends and family for dinner and drown ourselves in Brazilian music as artists/bands hold concerts at various beaches around Brazil.
The weather is one of the major differences between Canada and Brazil: in Canada, it’s usually a ‘white Christmas’ with snowy streets and temperatures hovering in the range of -5 to -10 degrees Celsius, while in Brazil the temperature is approximately 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, which is perfect to be out and about celebrating on the sunny beaches!
For me, this holiday season is going to be a time of reflection and celebration
As I completed my studies, hustled, and managed to secure a full-time job, 2019 has been somewhat of a milestone year for me. Hence, I look forward to relaxing, spending time with my wife and new-found ‘family’ in Canada. I’ll be celebrating all the victories and gearing up to keep moving ahead with the same zest to achieve my personal and professional goals in 2020!
Over the years, to me, the meaning of the holiday season or how I spend my time during the holidays hasn’t changed much; it was always about celebrating and treasuring the moments with friends and family, and for the most part, it continues to be that way. I don’t have my immediate family here but my wife and I have found our social circle that’s like ‘family’ and we make it a point to get together for all major festivities.
I urge newcomers to find their ‘families’ in Canada too!
Moving to a new country, being away from your family, friends, and relatives, and starting afresh is tough. During such times, friends in Canada can provide much-needed motivation and help with embracing the new way of life.
Cities like Toronto offer a unique opportunity for newcomers to meet and bond with people from varied nationalities and in turn, also learn about different cultures and traditions. My key piece of advice to other newcomers would be to socialize, network, and spend quality time with your new-found Canadian family!
|Get a glimpse into the lives of Arrive team members as they share some of their holiday traditions with the newcomer community. Check out our previous post by Sean Mathews for some inspiration on how to spend the holidays in Canada.
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