How to Deal with Homesickness and Challenges as an Expatriate
How to Deal with Homesickness and Challenges as an Expatriate (Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW, in our local term)?
- Living a Life away from home and family.
It has been more than 2 years since I worked here in Singapore as a Mechanical CAD Engineer for a Marine and Offshore Engineering/Consultancy firm. Working in a mixed diverse culture can be challenging especially when you’re 1,486 miles apart from the Philippines. It was really tough working in my first few months here as I have to deal with different personalities (egocentrics) being the only Filipino from an Indian dominated company.
In my first few months here in Singapore, I invested a lot of money from my long distance calls to the Philippines. After sometime, I managed to invest a laptop and a PC at home. With the current technology of internet, my family is just a computer away through Skype or Instant Messenger.
Being alone can really be tough so here are some of my effective tips to keep you active;
- Believe You Can Lah – You are the Best!
In my first few months, I received discouraging remarks from my senior colleagues about my poor drafting work. I was told that I was very slow and I must admit that I have challenges in 2D Drafting since I was hired there for my expertise in 3D modelling software (AutoCAD Inventor). My self-esteem was affected and lessened. These people can not even suggest how I can increase my speed and effectiveness when I asked them, so now I know where I stand. Here’s what I did, come closer so that you can hear me and so that you can apply this as well to your life if ever, I simply psyched myself up. Deep in my mind, I was shouting within myself that “I am the BEST and FASTEST “(repeatedly over and over again) while I was doing my 2D design detailing job. Well, it didn’t work right away but after sometime when I submitted my work for review, this guy told me, “You’re so fast huh”.
- Simply Connect
Days before my flight to Singapore, I simply get in touched with my friends, school mates so that they can help me in securing a place to stay. They are even generous to offer their place while am looking for my own place to stay. I managed to get a room for myself by joining some online forums. Google will always be there to help you connect.
- Join Groups, Meetups, Seminars, Sports Activities – Connect More
Even before I arrived here in Singapore, my friend already told me that he included me in their basketball line up for the coming basketball league. Joining sports activities will always be a good way to connect with different people as well as to keep you physically fit. Speaking of being physically fit, I managed to join a health fitness gym just in front of our office building.
My friend was the one who introduced me to join our University Alumni Organization (University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Singapore). This organization offered a lot of activities like seminars, sports, tambayans (a place for hanging out), and a lot of fun. I recommend you to check out your college/university alumni organization.
I would highly recommend that you join religious community in your area. Here you can share your personal challenges in life and you’re assured of trust and confidentiality. Most of all you’ll have a deeper relationship with God. In my case I joined, Couples for Christ – Foundation for Family and Life which I considered as a gasoline station for my soul and spirit.
To learn and grow is by attending seminars. This is how I develop myself which I will not find in my job.
- Read Books a lot – in my case listening to audiobooks
If there is one thing that I love about Singapore is the public library, my wealth of knowledge. Public Libraries are very accessible in every corner of Singapore. When I read their Vision and Mission, I was inspired that I can see the passion that it brings to Singapore; I’m sharing here their vision
“An inspiring beacon of lifelong learning, bringing knowledge alive, sparking imagination and creating possibility for a vibrant and creative Singapore. Spurring the heights of imagination from the depths of our resources. This is our vision, our NLB”
I would love to hear from your experiences living away from your family as an expatriate.