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Friday, June 14, 2024


From the first moment I have been involved with Filipinos I thought that there must be a reason why they detached themselves from their loved ones… only to be enslaved in a foreign country.

Look through a migrant worker’s life and agree with me: being an oversea worker is not easy – but for innumerable Philippine families, it seems the only way to survive financially.

If dealing with language barriers and cultural differences wasn’t enough, there’s also the challenge of having to adapt to a new climate. The weather plays a big role in how comfortable we feel and being constantly sweating or freezing can be just another reminder that we’re away from home, in a foreign environment. 

Traveling abroad is an experience that can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its own unique set of challenges of living abroad. From navigating different cultures and customs to finding friends and learning a new language, the transition from living in your home country to living overseas can take a lot out of you.

Change isn’t easy, and it is inevitable that it causes some stress. Even if your thoughts are calm and you feel organised, change can stress out your body, triggering its ‘fight or flight’ response (read more on the effects of change here).

Overseas workers have to deprive themselves of many things they used to enjoy at home – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and even spiritually. Some of them go to the extent of sacrificing one’s cherished profession in order to reach that proverbial greener pasture, to cross the poverty line and have a fraction of taste of the “God’s” comfortable living.

When one goes abroad, his toughness as a person is put to a test. Both, an old timer and a neophyte suffer the same illness every now and then: homesickness, especially when one doesn’t receive any news from home any more. Moods become utterly dull and dispositions are greatly affected.

Of course, sometimes unexpected news from home “go abroad”: death of a family member, the husband is womanizing or the wife having a paramour; the child is being hospitalized, the house robbed of products of sweat and tears, natural calamities, and many others. And, as I know from many Filipinos abroad, added to this is the knowledge that sometimes, hard-earned money is just spent wastefully by the recipients, despite repeated reminders that working abroad is not lifetime.

With these uncalled-for events, sometimes you can do nothing but close your eyes, secretly shed tears, have deep sighs and call for someone “up there” to make you stronger and ask for hope. My good friend Arvie, who experienced her first weeks as a nurse in Vancouver/Canada sent me the following lines:

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will. when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, when the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile but you have to sigh, when care is pressing and you lay down a little bit, rest if you must, but never quit!”

How very true, because in working abroad, one is confronted with equally exhilarating daily crosses, deal with hard-to-spell employers, perform boring, routinary, round-the-clock-chores, overcome fatigue, but always doing the very best to adapt to the culture of the new place.

After these sufferings, it is every migrant worker’s wish, that his crosses overseas will be rewarded after several years – rewards happily shared by the whole family, the community and by the nation as a whole.


Email: [email protected] or follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .


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