Prepared by Naomi Ahmad, Volunteer, Global Hamilton Connect.
Débora Jesus moved from Brazil to Canada and is now completing her masters at McMaster University. She loves how nature surrounds Hamilton, enjoys hanging out at James Street North, and hopes to live and work for Hamilton’s development. Here is Débora’s Hamilton story.
“I first came to Hamilton on an academic exchange program at McMaster University. I stayed in Hamilton from 2012 – 2013 and worked during the summer as a research assistant. After my graduation, I wanted to continue working with my supervisor and came back to McMaster University to do my masters in Communication and New Media.
When I first moved to Canada it was really hard for me to get use to Hamilton. I am from Sao Paulo, the biggest city in South America. So I wasn’t used to living in a city with so few people! However, when I went back to Brazil I couldn’t stand to live in a crowded place anymore. Now I really love and appreciate how Hamilton offers its residents the city life, as well as the experience of living surrounded by beautiful nature.
Initially, I found it a challenge to adapt to the Canadian educational system and the school year. In Brazil, I was used to having five to six months in a term, while the Canadian school term is only four months. The number of weekly assignments, my responsibilities as a teaching assistant, and my workload as a research assistant was very challenging; but at the same time also very rewarding.
My masters program has a small cohort. The fact that we are just a few students helped us to stay connected and share our experiences with each other. Besides this, I also got involved with the Organization of Latin American Students at McMaster University in order to keep practicing salsa and bachata. Allowing myself to have time for physical activities helped a lot with schoolwork.
Hamilton has so much to offer, but I’m definitely a fan of the waterfalls and all outdoor activities. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to come back to Canada.
Although I’m from a country with large forests, I never had the chance of experiencing nature like I do in Hamilton. At the same time, Downtown Hamilton has so many different stores. I love the coffee shops, art galleries, restaurants and clothing stores at James Street North!
My advice to other international students is to not be afraid. Hamilton is a welcoming city with affordable living costs and very friendly people. There are many international students that you can connect with at school and they can help you based on their experience. I also learnt a lot from my Canadian friends! My experience in Canada has definitely helped me become a better person.
After graduation I would love to stay in Hamilton. All the friends I’ve made since I moved here have become family for me. I would love to work here and help contribute to Hamilton’s economic development.”