I worked overseas for 34 months because I was lured by the gleaming dollar signs. It was also a sort of adventure. Imagine, living away from my comfort zone and submerging myself in another culture!
At first, it was all about shopping and getting the newest gadgets and snapping photos of places you knew friends at home haven’t been to. Weekends were spent on short getaways or small gatherings with old and new acquaintances. But eventually, homesickness started to kick in and I had to escape the loneliness by buying more things I wouldn’t ever need or exploring places just to take pictures of myself smiling to show anyone who would care. And there’s the reality of horrible co-workers (not all) and unjust working conditions. Don’t judge me as a whiny person. I was able to teach in a Catholic school here for eight years and I had my fair share of friends and enemies.
When you have stopped doing the things which make you happy;
When you are forced to do things you cannot handle;
When you need to make decisions which are against your principles.
– When Is It Time To Say Goodbye?
by Ivy Buenaventura, October 30, 2014
The time came when everything became too much for me. Hiding behind the excuse of wanting to start a family, I resigned from my post and went back to the Philippines.
The first few weeks were full of meet-ups with friends, family and relatives. I was so happy to see people from my past. I was able to convince myself for awhile that I made the right decision.
Then, I started to compare our third-world country to the first-world country I worked in previously. Of course, the Philippines wouldn’t fare well against a small nation with citizens who are disciplined and fearful of the law. Traffic jams here are so bad that I feel I waste a part of my life when I commute, and the transportation system here is so poor that I dread taking the public transport.
But these are superficial issues which can be avoided. Two other things bothered me. First, I planned to work from home and do freelance jobs while I pursue my dream to write. I had no other sources of income except savings and it was depleting fast. My holiday is now being marred with financial concerns and it is defeating my purpose of resigning from work: I was avoiding stress in hopes of being able to conceive.
And then secondly, there is the realization that slapped me hard in the face: that while I was away, my family and relatives went on with their lives and I had nowhere to fit in when I came back. Yes, I am being selfish. I thought I can bring back what we had before I left.
It’s sad to realize the truth about memories: I can replay them in my head over and over again but I can never relive them. So it’s best to make the best of each moment so they’ll be memorable enough for me to replay.
– Memories by Ivy Buenaventura, November 24, 2014
My present is having trouble accepting it cannot co-exist with the past. But I cannot build a future here now that I know I do not have to settle for third-world salaries and third-world public services because I learned I have an option out there somewhere. I often find myself thinking: what if I never left to work abroad, would everything be the same as it was before? But if I never experienced working in another country, am I going to be the same person as I am now?
It is really difficult to come home once you’ve been to another country. Most people I knew fight for their working visa in that first-world country because either they are not satisfied with what they will earn here or they have been working most of their lives away from home that they do not know how to live here anymore.
Ivy Valdellon-Buenaventura is a self-proclaimed hydrophile, halophile and named after a plant. I have dug out my roots to be up and about. Visit her site Ivysitchyfeet.blogspot.com.