Working abroad is a decision that is not for everyone. As you can imagine, there will be lots of adjustments and major challenges as you begin your career as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). But of course, with the challenges come the rewards and important life lessons.
It’s interesting to know that no two OFWs will have the same exact experience when it comes to working abroad. Everyone has their own period of adjustment (learning curve), methods of coping (with homesickness), and stories of acclimation (getting accustomed to life as an OFW in a certain country).
10 Things Every Filipino Must Learn from Working Abroad
As one popular verse in the Bible beautifully puts it, we must all “bloom where we are planted”. This means that no matter where you are “planted” or located in the world, we must all find the means to adjust, grow, and “bloom” as in thrive.
And just like everything that can be found in nature, this metaphor also teaches us that whatever comes our way, there will always be an opportunity for us to grow – whether personally or professionally among many other aspects in one’s life.
But for one to grow, we must first make a decision to embrace change. OFWs, whether voluntarily or not, make this decision the moment they decide to step outside their “comfort zones” to explore working overseas, and in the process, discover life in general.
Here are some lessons that every OFW must pick up while working abroad:
1. Things don’t always go as planned.
Perhaps this is something that you’ve realized early on in life, but this is one of the biggest realities you’ll grow to accept even more when you work abroad. Life will more often than not throw several curve balls at you when you least expect it. Things, at some point, might go against everything you know and believe, and this will put much stress and cause internal conflicts in you. How will you deal with this? You will be the only one who can answer that.
2. Bigger salary doesn’t always mean bigger savings.
Many Filipinos choose to find work overseas because of the better pay. However, this doesn’t always translate to bigger savings. Why is that? Because many OFWs aren’t financially literate or don’t have the discipline to religiously set aside money for their savings.
3. There’s always an opportunity to meet new people and make friends.
Meeting new people for the first time can be scary at first, more so when making new friends in a foreign country. But you will learn that this is not the case all the time, and it’s even inevitable in certain situations. Just remember to be yourself. (Also see point #7)
4. Perseverance and determination are important for success.
If you are familiar with success stories, you know very well that nothing close to it comes easy and without hard work. In the same manner, your OFW experience should also be built on perseverance and determination to meet your goals for working abroad. (Also see point #9)
5. You need to be “smart” to adapt to the demands of work and life abroad.
There’s no room for wishy-washy (aimless) thinking when you’re working abroad. Because if you are not focused and fail to adapt to the way people do things, you won’t get too far. It’s important for you to always be alert and to have the presence of mind in order to anticipate possible difficulties and challenges and to be able to overcome them as they happen.
6. The best way to bridge any communication gap is through a genuine smile.
Wherever you may be, every person would understand a smile as a symbol of friendship and warmth. Always bring your smile with you wherever you may be in the world because it will be one of your biggest assets at work and when dealing with other people. Who knows? Your smile could just be the thing that could brighten someone else’s day, so do not withhold it from others. As they say, a smile is one of the few things in life that you cannot give without getting one back!
7. Your personality and people skills will take you places.
One of the important criteria that recruiters are looking at is personality and the way a person deals with others. On top of your skills as a worker, the way you deal with others is equally important when being hired for work abroad. This will also determine how well or easy you can make friends and get along with others at work.
8. No effort is wasted as long as you put your mind and heart into it.
No matter how difficult a situation can get, do not feel disheartened and never doubt your efforts because whatever you do, as long as you do it well, will yield lifelong benefits and important results. This reinforces the reminders stated in point #4.
9. Always keep an open heart and an open mind.
Do not be afraid to get to know and understand other nationalities. Learn to appreciate your differences because this will widen your worldview and will help you understand others better than you did before.
10. Do not hesitate to ask for help.
Contrary to what some people think, asking for help, especially from someone able and qualified, is not a sign of weakness. Remember, asking someone for help also means that you respect they’re capabilities and are giving other people the opportunity to share something that they are in the position to give you in that particular moment.
Working overseas presents many opportunities for any Filipino not only financially and professionally, but also personally. If we are keen to learn new things, surely this experience will only make us a better person, if not the best version of ourselves.
Also, working alone in a foreign country will teach us not only to understand ourselves but also other people better. By seeing life through other people’s lens, we become bigger and we expand our worldview. The bottom line is, never pass any opportunity to learn or grow – wherever you may be in the world!
ALSO READ: Top 5 Most Common OFW Problems