8 Things You Should Know About Working Abroad For the First Time
Oct 24, 2019   •   Kyzia Maramara
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Oct 24, 2019   •   Kyzia Maramara
Deciding to pursue working abroad is a scary thought for anyone but it’s the exact same reason why you should – it’s stepping out of your comfort zone and learning new things in the process. There are a lot of reasons people choose to become OFWs. They have to support their family financially, for one, their job sends them to work abroad, or they want to try and see if they could find better opportunities out there. Whatever the reason, working overseas will give anyone a hard but fulfilling time. If you’re thinking of packing up and trying your luck in the great wide somewhere, here are a few things you should know:
Being an OFW is not an easy feat. Before you even leave the country, you have to process papers and collect enough money for fees and plane tickets. Once you land in another country, you begin sending your resume to companies and hope for job offers to come knocking at your door. Now that’s the logistics part and with luck and determination, it’s relatively easy. The difficult part is stepping outside your comfort zone that is your country, leaving the people you love, and flying to a foreign land to work for a company with a different culture. Tears will be shed, confidence might waver, so aside from packing clothes fit for the season, you would need to pack determination and a truckload of courage.
The toughest sacrifice you have to make in working abroad is leaving your family. Being an OFW means you’re confined to a life of seeing them grow through digital screens and only get to be with them a few days during the holidays. But what’s heartwarming about Filipino families is that they will hold your hand (virtually) through the entire thing. They will be your support system and even miles away, you know you can count on them.
If things don’t turn out well for you abroad, your parents will always be ready to welcome you back, lend you money, and help you get back on your feet. And perhaps it’s this support that prompts the rest of us to work hard and earn more to give back to our families.
If you don’t have relatives abroad, you have to face the reality that you’ll be alone. You will do everything on your own and this includes cooking for yourself, doing the laundry, the dishes, cleaning the house, going out solo, and even taking care of yourself when you’re sick. You have to train yourself to cook and clean beforehand or else you’ll be having a rough time. You don’t exactly have the luxury to learn on the spot.
It’s easy to spiral into sadness when you’re alone in a foreign place. Dropping everything and booking a ticket home is the greatest temptation for the first few months. But take a breather, calm down, and remind yourself why you’re there in the first place. You should also remind yourself to keep moving to shake the blues off. You’re in a new country with unfamiliar people, you’re bound to feel lonely and closed off. Make every effort to reach out, make friends with people at work, or even your neighbors. Go out and experience new things, there’s bound to be Filipinos where ever you are, go and find out where they hang out during weekends. Pretty soon you’ll be building a new support system you never thought was possible.
A new country opens your eyes to a different world and a different culture. You’ll be surprised to know that people practice doing things in ways other than you’re used to. Their food tastes new (and requires getting used to), their city lights up differently at night, their children have a different sort of childhood, and their work ethic is commendable. Ultimately you’ll come to realize that there’s a world outside the country you grew up in and it’s fascinating be living in that new land now.
Like you did in your country before, you’ll once again be setting out to do things that will confirm you to be a functioning part of society. You’ll be applying for a new phone, opening a bank account, figuring out public transportation, learning to coexist and work with foreigners (although you’re the foreigner this time), and even scheduling hospital checkups alone. This is where the excitement starts to build.
Living overseas means there are a lot of rules and regulations you should know and abide by. There are working visas that have expiration dates, paper works upon paper works, foreign tax laws to study, and rights and benefits to know. It would be in your best interest to look for an employer who will guide you through the process.
If you thought taking that plane ride to start a new life abroad was hard, the first time you go back to your own country for a short visit is harder. You will be hit by a number of things you’ve missed: seeing your youngest sibling grow taller, your mom’s hard-to-replicate cooking, and the sight of your family complete. But you have to use this time to recharge before heading out to leave. Remind yourself that there is a limit to your being an OFW and one day you’ll be coming back to your beloved country and to the arms of your family for good.
What else should first time OFWs know about working abroad? Leave your tips below!
Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.
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