27 March 2008
The Expat's Life - Part 1
I didn't, in my wildest dreams, intend to stay here. Initially, it was just a trial and error thing but I found lady luck on the corner of Street A and Street B (let’s call them that way for anonymity) in June of 2000. That was the commencement of my life as an expat.
I had culture shock during the first few months of my 'regular' stay here and eventually, as the days went by, I learned to adapt and adopt the society's norms. It was very difficult for me to adjust on the accents because this was (and still is) a melting pot of various nationalities with different accents. To top that, I had my 'supposed' interview 3 weeks after my stay and had to press the plunger because I was applying for a post that would require remarkable hearing abilities. I was so frustrated and felt like a fool. I could not get the fellow's accent at all! Nope, he was not a local, certainly not a Caucasian. Let's leave it to that. I had to watch news delivered by locals and other nationalities. The reason for that was to differentiate the way they delivered so I could catch up with their accents. I eventually succeeded and can now talk to people even with the strongest twang! My exposure in my current work place helped me a lot to develop my skills in understanding other nationalities as I handle 'pilots' in my field. Most of the pilots I meet and converse with daily are Europeans and few Asians. Having dealt with them helped me cope with the pressure of comprehending what they were actually getting across.
Next hurdle was to stave off the nagging 'homesickness' I felt (honestly, I still feel it at present in varying degrees). I had rows and rows of crying spells at night that would leave me looking like Kermit the Frog the next day. It was so painful to be away from my family having grown to a closely knit one. I had to leave my daughter for a while to my parents because my husband and I were just starting off and could not possibly afford to acquire her here. The long and painful process of obtaining her residence visa only came 2 years ago after several promotions in the office which gave way to a better pay and passing the criteria of a family status visa. I also miss my close friends back home, my support system, my 'chika' (chat mates) buddies, my office pals in DBP, my confidants, my sisters in spirit, my compadres/comadres. Oh, the days...
Living in this country is totally not an easy feat to make. An expat like me will have to constantly adjust as we all struggle to give a bright future to our family. It is a constant sacrifice, a tireless effort to strive for the best to get the best, restraining of the homesickness feeling, drowning of loneliness through other means... It's not easy. Believe me.
Although the country has many things to offer to an expat like me who wish to have a better life outside my original domicile. My husband and I are paid quite generously compared to our counterparts back home. We live a comfortable life. We have nice abodes back home. We can travel and see places we never thought we would. We meet new and interesting folks here who in a way, make our lives richer and colorful.
An expat's life is like a roller coaster ride. You feel various emotions as you go along. Your feelings peak and then drops down at lightning speed. I cannot explain why but I guess it's because we miss home so much. I don't know about the other Pinoys here but as for me, my family and my friends, we all feel that there's still no place like home. Having said that, I know the time will come when we will all go home and enjoy the fruits of our hard-earned, well-toiled, sweat-coated labour. It's just a matter of knowing when.