Audio in Portuguese. Read the English transcript below.
The city of Kingston – Location
Why living in Kingston? Interview with Angelita Macedo
Transcripts (Automatic English translation – unedited)
Welcome to another episode of Ontario beyond Toronto, a podcast of Brazilian Wave Canada. I’m Christian Pedersen and, in this edition, we talked to Angelita Macedo. She arrived in Ottawa with her two daughters and accompanied her husband. That was 12 years ago. Eight years later, she and her family moved to Kingston, a city which lies between Toronto and Montreal and which, incidentally, was Canada’s first capital. In this episode, we want to know: why did Angelita move to Kingston?
Christian: Hello, Angelita! Thank you for participating in our Podcast.
Angelita: Yes, of course! It is a great pleasure to be participating, and to be able to help other Brazilians, informing a little bit of Canada, a little bit of cities, a little bit of everything.
Christian: You came from Marília, in the interior of São Paulo. But, why did you choose Canada? What was your story? The beginning?
Angelita: 12 years ago, my husband was without the job where he worked 20 years ago. He asked me what I thought of him doing an exchange in Canada. Because he wanted to improve his language. I said: OK, no problem. I think is cool. He said: “I think I am thinking of staying a month”. And I said: No, a month is too little! It stays for 3 to 4 months, at least. Then you get acquainted and see what you really want. He came to Vancouver and lived for four months. He did an exchange and everything. During that time of the exchange, a Canadian company contacted him asking (because, as he knew all about that company’s system), and he was not interested in a job. Then he finished the course, came [to Ottawa ], did the interview and the company said: “we liked your profile and we want to hire you. Here is the letter of admission. Go after all the documentation and when everything is ready, you come to Canada ”. That was in October and, in December, we got all the documentation.
Christian: When he did an exchange did you come along?
Angelita: No. He came in December and I only came in May of the other year.
Christian: How lucky, huh? You didn’t get December right away!
Angelita: Exactly. And it was a year… I don’t know if you remember… it was a year that all buses went on strike. He had to rent a car and, in May of the following year, I came. Me and my girls. I have two daughters. One now lives with me in Kingston, and the other lives in Vancouver , across Canada .
Christian: Ironically, it started there and at the end …
Angelita: Exactly. Look for you to see! It is God, when he traces his path. It’s amazing how things went. We then came to Ottawa. I came in May with the girls. It was a super difficult adaptation. Because, until then, we were from the interior of São Paulo and have the language … I didn’t speak the language. There are “ n ” things. Many paradigms that the Brazilian has to break.
Christian: For example, which one?
Angelita: Reinvent yourself and open your mind. Be open-minded. In Brazil , I studied. I’m a physiotherapist. When I came here, it was as if I was walking and, suddenly, I had become quadriplegic. Then you have to learn everything again! Do it all again. You have to forget that thing … there is no Brazilian way and the culture is totally different. There is no point in bringing your way, your way, because it will not work. You have to live according to what is really here.
Christian: And what was the shock of being in Ottawa like ? Because even though it is smaller than Toronto, Ottawa is not that small, it is different.
Angelita: Because I am from the interior of São Paulo, I think the shock would have been greater if I had gone to Toronto. I think it was going to get heavier. Ottawa is like Ribeirão Preto, but Ottawa is the capital. It is also considered from the interior, but it is a little bit bigger. So, for me, it was great to come to Ottawa because of the shock. It was great, but not as devastating, as I think it would have been if I had gone to Toronto.
Christian: And what was it like to bring daughters here? Because they came small.
Angelita: They came. The smallest came with 4 years. The other came a little bigger (because there are 15 years of difference between them). It was very difficult for the youngest … and the oldest, because she had her whole life there. She went to high school ( high school ) and everything else at the same school (because, in Brazil, we can do that, right? Always be in the same environment). And it was difficult for her to leave friendships. But it was a unique experience. And painful, right …
Christian: She came because she didn’t have a choice, so to speak.
Angelita: Really, she had no choice. And so, we come with the intention that it is another country, another culture. We come kind of into the hype and then face difficulties. But this is normal.
Christian: What was the biggest challenge for you? Culture, language, distance?
Angelita: For me, the biggest challenge was the language. Because I never liked English. So for me it was challenging, every day.
Christian: And how was it for your husband? He came already hired, which is a rare thing …
Angelita: Today, you can’t do that anymore. Amazingly (I heard about it years later), his dream was to live abroad. I said: ok, but you should have warned me. Because I could have prepared myself psychologically.
Christian: It’s a curious thing. Because you just came, because it came (and not because you had a desire for something, like a project). You came because he came, which is different. You did not have the same ambition, it was not your dream.
Angelita: Exactly. It was his dream, it wasn’t mine! So, I think that is why I created a lot of barriers in relation to the language, in relation to everything. So much so, let me tell you, I did not go to Brazil for seven years . Because if I had gone, maybe I wouldn’t have come back. Something that kind of detoxifies me, you know? But it was worth it!
Christian: What was it like to find a place to live? Did the company make it easy for you to find where to live in Ottawa?
Angelita: It was all by ourselves. The costs… everything, everything! Since visas, since housing, since moving. Everything.
Christian: Didn’t the company make it any easier?
Angelita: No. The only thing they offered us was the job. Thats it ! Was hard. You have a pattern, you have a stabilized life in Brazil… you have everything, you know? And suddenly, you leave your comfort zone and go to a strange place, which is not your culture, it is not your language … you kind of screw up. Many times, I questioned that I was here. That was the beginning.
Christian: Did it generate a lot of stress between you?
Angelita: It generated a lot of stress because of that. Because I created this block. Because what I told you. The dream was not mine, it was his dream. You got it?
Christian: And you had your career there.
Angelita: Exactly. Today I see that these are small things that you stick to. This is what I tell you: the Brazilian to get out of his comfort zone, he has to be open-minded and able to change and general. In all!
Christian: It’s like you die and go to another dimension. You have to go and let go.
Angelita: It is total detachment. Total!
Christian: Because if you come attached … I think that when it doesn’t work for a lot of people, it’s because they are very attached to their past lives. They get stuck and can’t get loose.
Angelita: For my husband, I see that it was much easier, because he was always a detached person, in general: detached from family, detached from friends, detached from people, detached from everything. Sometimes, I say to him: ô mine! It looks like you’re kind of an ET, I joke. But, people who work with computers, I believe they are like that.
Christian: Today there are many digital nomads who live in other places, but they are always online , they work in this area.
Angelita: He manages it well. It was difficult for me to manage. But not today, because I reinvented myself.
Christian: And how did you learn these things in Ottawa ? How did you manage to get to college … You were starting from scratch, a new life and had no support from the company.
Angelita: Look, everything was explored by us, alone. Because 12 years ago, there was no such community of Brazilians as there are today. Especially in Ottawa, today there is a community of Brazilians who are always helping and informing: “where do I find this, how do I do that, how do I do this”. And, 12 years ago, it hadn’t. We discovered everything, alone: learning, searching, searching. I saw it for my daughter. She had finished high school and went back to high school to be able to fit in more. She said: “mom, I want to be part of this culture, I want to be part, I don’t want to be in a ghetto”. She went back to high school for a year and was pioneering and making her way. Today, she lives in Vancouver and is doing very well, does what she likes, reinvented herself too.
Christian: What was good about there? Did you like Ottawa?
Angelita: I liked it, because it was my first place, the first city I met when I came to Canada. And ntão, you end up falling in love. But today, I let go. And I totally detached myself. In the beginning, when I moved here, I wanted to go to Ottawa every week , because all my friends are from there. Today, I confess to you that I am too lazy to take my car and drive to Ottawa. I know that today, I fell in love with this city.
Christian: And your friends in Ottawa are more Brazilian, do you have Canadians?
Angelita: There are a lot of Canadians, but there are a lot more Brazilians. Because? Let me explain you. When I got here, I started to get very depressed, and I said: I need to do something, because I don’t speak the language, I’m getting depressed and this is making me feel bad. Then I started cooking for a friend of mine, who was a great encourager. Then she said, “why don’t you start doing it to sell?” Then, I said: Me? I never did that in Brazil . It is not my area! She said: “but, girl, you do it very well, you cook it very well”. Then, I started doing it like this, you know, just for doing it. Because I missed the food in Brazil and the food here in Canada is frustrating, right? Then, I started and spent many years doing events for the Brazilian embassy . Through the Brazilian embassy , there was an event of Brazilian doctors and they wanted to put some of our Brazilian food. Then, I went to teach (without speaking English, let alone French)… I went to teach a chef how to make shrimp bobó. That’s why I tell you: everything here has been happening for me.
Christian: When you first came here, did you try anything from physiotherapy?
Angelita: No. Because I would have to go back to school and study again, and I was in a really bad time.
Christian: Even more in English, right … there’s this …
Angelita: There is that. Today I think about going back, but not in my area.
Christian: Then, there was the new reinvention of Angelita, because, four years ago, you went to Kingston. Then, everything comes back again …
Angelita: There, everything comes back again. My husband went to the American company that called him. So much so that this company, which he works for, is not here and in Kingston. This company is in Napany. Then I said: Well, Napany , no way! Because it is a smaller city and I was coming from Ottawa. But, Napany is a very charming city, too. Cute! But it is very small. But there is another engineer who works there at the company (and he is Brazilian, too, he is from São Paulo capital , like my husband) and he bought a house in Napany.
Christian: Kingston is known to be halfway [from Toronto] to Montreal and is very interesting because it was once the capital of Ontario.
Angelita: Kingston is an exciting city. After all, it is a tourist destination and a university city. It is a city that everyone says: “Ah, but it is small!”. But, it has big city characteristics. When you take as a reference the cities in the interior of Brazil and the cities here, it does not give you a legal reference. It is totally different. Here in Kingston, and I’m 2:30 am from Toronto and 1:45 am from Ottawa.
Christian: How did your daughters deal with the news of moving again? Although, this time, it went close, it didn’t go that far.
Angelita: My youngest daughter, at the beginning, suffered a lot, because she had a group of friends there in Ottawa and she was very apprehensive. Afterwards, she accepted it. But she developed like a panic syndrome. She came here small and was left without references. She no longer has any reference to Brazil and her culture is all of Canada. She knows she has Brazil because she has my family, we have contact and are together. But her culture is 100% Canadian.
Christian: Is there a clash between you: a more Canadian side and a more Brazilian side?
Angelita: Totally. Mainly, because I have two daughters. One “Brazilian” and the other “Canadian”.
Christian: And which is the biggest one?
Angelita: We Brazilians have Latin blood. So, that crazy thing of worrying, of not trusting anyone. She does not. She is Canadian: everyone is nice, everyone is good, everyone is nice . You have to be a gentleman with every world. You can’t be mean (rude) to anyone. Anything I say to her says, “Wow, you’re being mean to me.” And, in fact, it is not. It is the Latin’s way of being.
Christian: What about the cost of living in Ottawa compared to Kingston? It sure is different, but is it a glaring thing?
Angelita: The cost of living is just as much. It’s even more expensive. Mainly, houses.
Christian: Is it because of college?
Angelita: I believe it is, because I see houses in Ottawa that , today … home here is much more expensive. We are looking for a house to buy and the price here is absurd! Is that. I believe it is because of the university, because it is a calmer and much more peaceful city. Also, we are in a corridor here, so, in terms of snow, it is much milder than in Ottawa.
Christian: And was it difficult to find where to live there?
Angelita: It wasn’t that difficult. Because my husband already knew about my demands. I said, okay, I’ll get out of Ottawa, d my house, so … all quiet and you will not put me in a … Today I live in an apartment on the main street of Kingston, which is on Princess St. And then I said : I want to be closer to everything so I can get around on foot. So, from my apartment window I see Costco and there is a mall that, on one side, has a Tim Hortons, on the other, a Starbukcs. And next to my building is a gym.
Christian: Does your daughter intend to go to college there?
Angelita: She does. I really want her to go to Queens. But here, we live in a country where teenagers have the right to choose.
Christian: Here at 16 they leave home and are independent.
Angelita: But then … I’m really going to stay with our culture, okay?
Christian: Do you think the fact that Kingston is smaller than Ottawa favors your daily life?
Angelita: A lot. There are things here that I love! I want to go to a certain place and what happens? In 15 minutes, I’m where I want to be. Something in Ottawa, you take the highway and it’s complicated.
Christian: Did you take a cooking class afterwards? Because you are a chef de cuisine at Marriot
55Angelita: Yes, I work at the Marriot.
Christian: How was it to start with this homemade thing and become a chef at Marriot ?
Angelita: That’s what I told you. Things were all happening. From the beginning, when I came to Canada, everything happened. I went to the Marriot, but I joined, by chance, too. One day, talking to a friend of mine, I said: oh, I was looking to work, do anything. I can volunteer. I can’t stand being at home anymore. She said: “the hotel is in need”. Two days later, she said: “my director asked you to call him”. I called, with my English … but like that, shaking. Because speaking in person is one thing, but over the phone, that has always been a barrier for me. I called him and he said to me, “Can you come here tomorrow?” I went, and he said: “you are hired”. I joined the helper part and then they assigned me to cook.
Christian: How do they deal with the foreigner? Are there many foreigners there, or are they more Canadian?
Angelita: Everyone there is Canadian. I have not seen and I do not see prejudice. They treat you very well and, if there is [prejudice], it’s kind of obscure.
Christian: How is your husband handling the company? Did he adapt well? But, also, it’s his dream, it’s his beach.
Angelita: It was very good for him. At first, too, it is a challenge. To this day, it is a challenge. But this year, because of the pandemic, everything is at a standstill.
Christian: And there are a lot of Brazilians in Kingston? Have you met enough, made friends?
Angelita: There are a lot of Brazilians, but because I’ve been here for 12 years… you know, we become a bit selective, right? Not bad, understand?
Christian: Is it from experience?
Angelita: It is from experience.
Christian: This is hard because when you live here, after a while, you start to think differently than it was there, right? Because it is no longer the same thing.
Angelita: No, it isn’t anymore. And there are Brazilians who are arriving now (and even some who have been here for a while) who continue with that same mentality. So, I don’t have a lot of patience. That’s what I told you: you either open your mind, or you stay in your ghetto.
Christian: And how is security there in Kingston and Ottawa, compared to what you remember from Brazil?
Angelita: It is much more peaceful. Much more peaceful in terms of security! But, we, as Brazilians, have that culture of fear that is still part of you. We still suspect everything, we are afraid of everything. But today, I am more relaxed , more relaxed about security. Here in Kingston it is super quiet. Sometimes, I have to leave at 4:30 in the morning to go to the hotel to work, and I go down to get the car out of the garage and everything. Thing I would never do in Brazil. An interesting thing that happened this week was that the door to my apartment was left open. I went in, left the key out but it slept well, like this. Never in Brazil! Here they have robberies (I won’t tell you that they don’t). But, the other day, I saw a person in the group: “oh, I want to move to Kingston , but I am worried because there is a prison there”. Guys, the prison is there and has nothing to do (compared to Brazil). Nothing nothing nothing.
Christian: And if you want to take a bus from there to the center, is it easy?
Angelita: Super easy! As I told you, as I live on a main street down here from Kingston , for you to have an idea, in front of my building there is a bus stop. My daughter sometimes wants to go downtown and she takes it and goes by bus.
Christian: What about winter? How is the winter there?
Angelita: Wonderful. That’s what I told you: we are in a super mild corridor. Sometimes there is no snow, as there is in Ottawa. Sometimes Ottawa is running out of snow and not here.
Christian: If someone came to you now and said, “oh, there’s a new job somewhere else.” You would go?
Angelita: Let me tell you something that I always say to everyone: the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, which was leaving Brazil. Today, I’m going anywhere. I just wouldn’t go back to Brazil.
Christian: And, in closing, what today’s Angelita would say to Angelita who was leaving Brazil and arriving in Ottawa, twelve years ago. If you could give her advice, what would you say?
Angelita: Try again. Try, try, always try. Never give up!
Christian: So it was worth it, in the end.
Angelita: Thanks! It was really worth it. The Angelita of 12 years ago (that other Angelita) is an Angelita, today, totally different. She is a more humble, more confident Angelita and one who believes more. For me, it was very rewarding. It was painful, it was super painful, but it is too rewarding. And I thank God so much that He gave me that chance. Because a lot of people wanted to have this chance. And persistence, right! Because you have to be persistent to be in a place where, as I told you, it was not my dream. But it was worth it. Today, I would not change anything.
Christian: So that’s it. On behalf of Brazilian Wave, I thank Angelita Macedo for the interview. And visit the brazilianwave.org portal for other episodes of “ Ontario is not just Toronto” and also to learn a little about Kingston. And I also take the opportunity to ask you to like, like in our posts and also share with your friends and those who are most interested in living in Canada. And if you made it this far, thank you for your audience and until the next episode. Goodbye!
Podcast: Ontario Beyond Toronto
- Direction and interviews: Christian Pedersen
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