At some point in life moving happens, whether it’s moving from one neighbourhood to another, a new city, a new school or across the country. But not everyone has the chance to move from one country to another.
Jeffry Benavidez was 16-years-old when he had moved from Barcelona, Spain to Canada. He moved right after he graduated from high school in Spain.
His father has a Canadian citizenship so he thought he’d take advantage of the opportunity to explore Canada.
“I wanted to try being in a different country,” he said. “The advantages of being in a different country and knowing how everything works, I skipped twice two grades so that put me ahead. It’s not that I’m smarter than everyone else I just understood everything faster than anyone else.”
He came to Canada confident that he’d find his place and there wouldn’t be any language barriers because he had taken English in Spain.
“It’s a requirement. Everyone knows that English is pretty much the second main universal language,” he said.
He has since graduated from Durham College’s Chemical Engineering program, but he continues to learn.
“I try to level myself with everyone else so I can learn and at same time teach,” he said. “I’m just a regular person that tries to understand stuff as fast as I can.”
His ambition to learn continued once he landed in Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
Benavidez remembers the exact hour he had arrived in Canada in 2009.
“That would be Feb. 27,” he said. “At 11:27 pm [ET], because of the time zones.”
Moving from his family and home in Spain hasn’t been as difficult on Benavidez as you might imagine. He’s very close with his family even though they’re miles away.
“We are raised knowing family is first,” he said. “Especially our mother, you have to treat your mother as if she’s queen.”
Benavidez has been working for Evaton Marketing in Oshawa for the past four months and says the job has allowed him to reach out to the community.
“The best thing about this job I get to reach a lot of different people, and a lot are from different cultures,” he said. “Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, America – they love me.”
He enjoys one particular festival in Toronto called St. Clair’s where the Spanish culture takes over the streets.
“Every two times of the year there’s pretty much salsa and merengue, just get to mingle with a lot of Spanish people,” he said.
Benavidez has taken control of his life and has branched out to the possibilities Canada has to offer, but said there are many benefits in Spain too, including the curriculum vitae. It’s a resume document of their life and family, he explained.
Because his mom works at a big company in Spain he could have followed in her footsteps, he said.
“It’s nice to have something handed to you, but at the same time where’s the value in it? You don’t seem like you actually earned it,” he said.
Not only does he have a strong connection with his family, but he also appreciates his cultural background.
Benavidez says the culture in Spain is comparable to a party lifestyle.
“Just imagine everyone being happy and no one stresses of anything,” he said. “If there’s something wrong with your life, it’s just momentarily. It’s going to go by, like I said we’re pretty laid back, we enjoy life.”
The hours of the Spanish and Canadian day are also used fairly different, and can take some getting used to, he said.
“Typical life in Spain, you wake up you have your coffee you enjoy your quality time with your parents. Around 2 o’clock you have your nice siesta, everything closes, around 5 o’clock you do what you need to do. Let’s say around 9 or 10 o’clock it’s dinner time and go home around 1 or 2 [in the morning].”
The move from Spain to Canada was fairly daunting for Benavidez, but he means it in the best way.
“To be honest, it was scary, scary good,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff we hear about Canada, so I wanted to experience it for myself.”
Since he came to Canada on his own, he wasn’t overly experienced in the Canadian culture so he did the best he could to grasp how the culture works.
“So what I did was just ask, try and find friends and see what they know about the country, what I should do and not do,” he said.
With the experience he has gained from living in Canada he is comfortable in knowing that the adventurous jump in life has given him a pathway to a bright future.
“I can see myself going further, as in no limits pretty much,” he said.
Benavidez hopes that in near future his next steps will to continue to teach and grow at Evaton Marketing.
“Seeing how far I can go and become an owner of my own company,” he said. He said he gets along with people because of the diversity in the people he works with and talks to each day.
“Personally, being able to help people and reach other people so they can have the opportunity I have now.”
From the time he boarded his first plane into Canada he hasn’t taken a second glance at the choice he made. Like the Spanish festival Running of the Bulls, he has taken life by the horns.