by Ana Luíza Albacete
The cultural shock to anyone who moves to another country is big. For Raquel Gonçalves it was no different. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Raquel moved with her husband to Barrie, ON, in the middle of the pandemic. "I never thought of living abroad. I graduated from one of the best universities in Brazil and I couldn't find a job. I love Canada because here I have more opportunities than in Brazil. And it's crazy because there I have a degree, I speak the language, I have my friends... That's why I love Canada, because of all opportunities and I don't speak English fluently."
Raquel comes from a low-income family in Brazil. Her parents migrated from the Northeast of Brazil to Rio de Janeiro seeking a better life. Her father is a live-in doorman in one of the richest neighborhoods of Rio. Raquel was the first of her family to get into a public university to study Design but couldn't get a job in her field in Rio. Until her husband, Nicholas Melo, suggests to come to Canada. He was interested in going to a college and she would come with him with a work-permit visa. Because she was the doorman's daughter, some of her neighbors did not allow their kids to play with Raquel. In Barrie, people are kind to her. "Here people don't care about your job or your clothes. Another day I went to Shoppers and I was full of dirt because I used to work at a [luxury grills] factory and the lady from the beauty part came to talk to me as I was clean. I was completely dirty and she was so respectful to me."
Although Raquel tried the whole "YouTuber influencer" thing in the past and it didn't work out, a turn of events led to Raquel giving it one more try and starting a page and naming it "Farofa de Maple" – Farofa as a famous dish in Brazil and Maple as maple syrup. What was supposed to be shared with only family and friends in Brazil became something bigger and now she has one hundred and three thousand followers. Farofa de Maple became a job and Raquel's favorite part of it is helping her followers somehow. "I love helping people. The Farofa is not only to share about my life, I try to help people. Because I know how difficult it is to move to another country where you don't speak the language."
Raquel doesn't only think about followers and likes, but she wants to make a positive change in people's lives. She wants to know her follower's opinions and even puts Instagram polls on her stories, asking her followers directly about whether she influences them or not. Some people wrote that she is a positive inspiration for them, and some simply said "no". Aline Paiva says that whenever she is insecure about her "Canada Plan" she goes to Farofa de Maple to give her the strength she needs to keep going. Another follower, Amanda Brandão also said that following Raquel on social media changed the way she used to see Canada.
Raquel says that she loves whenever someone approaches her saying that she helped them with anything about Canada. But it is still weird the fact that so many people follow her on Instagram and she has fans around the internet. Whenever she thinks about this, she says she does not know how to feel about it, but she does not see herself as a celebrity. The whole purpose of shooting, editing, and posting funny videos on Instagram is to help people. With her job, she wants to make other people's lives lighter since the news in Canada and Brazil are not the best ones.
The point for Raquel is not only sharing the good parts of living in Canada but also the bad parts. She has been sharing how the violence increased in Toronto's TTC and also when there were attempts of abducting women in Barrie. She also shares that whenever something happens to her. "Canadians are nice, but sometimes we can find someone who does not like your accent, does not like you because you are not white… Here happened to me twice and I've been here for three years. It is not perfect. And I like to share because my followers need to know that here is really good, but not perfect."
With her job on social media, Raquel tries to show people that Canada looks like a dream but is not perfect, but it feels like she belongs to Canada. And if someone is afraid to pursue the dream of moving abroad, Raquel says "Don't be afraid. I moved to Canada without money and my English was basic. You have to keep working, studying, and try to find friends that are immigrants too because they will help you."
Farofa de Maple
On this video Raquel shows de difference between the purchase power in Brazil and Canada
On this video, Raquel shares a situation when someone asked her why she moved from Brazil.
On this video, Raquel shows what is common to have in Canada's households but not in Brazil's households.
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