7 Unexpected Things To Help Jumpstart Your Life Abroad


Once you've arrived, unpacking boxes and suitcases you've brought from the Philippines to your new life abroad is your first rite of passage. Although you're set to conquer big dreams, it's the small things that can sometimes help you push through.

Here are the ordinary items that you've never thought can make a difference to OFW life:

#1: Alarm clock

Bride for Rent
Nobody's there to wake you up. And while you can set an alarm on phone, good luck not being tempted to snooze it on a cold weather, a lonely day, or a jet lag. A sturdier, louder old-fashioned clock is still more dependable.

#2: SIM card and call cards

House Husband
On your first few months, you'll establish one important rule for yourself: be reachable at all times. You'll need two SIM cards: one for local calls and one special SIM card that lets you connect with family and friends in the Philippines at discounted rates.

Always be on the lookout for cheaper call rates. Call cards, even in this age of Skype, Line, and Viber, can still be useful in times of emergencies or pangs of homesickness.

#3: Pen and paper

Bayaning Third World
You'll have lots of time alone in your room when you're living on your own. When you don't have anyone to talk to, listen and get in touch with your emotions. Writing, sketching, or just doodling can surface your innermost thoughts (plus there's no danger of sounding like a schizo).

#4: Soy sauce and vinegar

American Adobo

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. While you're salivating for the real flavors of home, find a Filipino store and buy suka't toyo. Make Adobo - do-it-yourself goodness!

#5 Picture frames

Way Back Home
Be reminded of your loved ones. Call it sentimental, but these can give you some emotional boost when you need it. Tired? Look at their smiles. Lonely? Imagine them being with you through your journey.

#6 Pillows

Starting over Again

Now, now... Need someone to cry on? Lean on? Your pillow will be there during your battle against homesickness. You can even give them names...we won't judge!

#7 Abroad Me: 22 Success Strategies for Young Overseas Filipinos

The pocket-sized book will help you get the most out of your overseas journey! From your vision as an individual to your mission as a global Filipino, Abroad Me is a refreshing companion that you can take with you. Order it online, or find it in local bookstores.

As they say, it's the small things that count.

“Abroad Me”: Redefining the OFW Experience for Young Professionals

While many believed that the “Filipino Dream” means migrating to another country, Anne Quintos decided that she would use her talents as part of the local workforce. She made this resolve seeing that a good number of her friends ventured for jobs abroad right after college.

But life presented an unexpected twist.

After resigning from a job, an opportunity to work for a Taiwan-based multinational corporation was offered to her. Having to deal with fewer opportunities in Manila, she decided to take the bait. Her dad had been a former OFW himself, so she thought that the best advice was always just an online chat away.

But as soon as she started her job in Taiwan, she found out that life abroad is more challenging than making it all about earning and spending money. She even thinks that there’s a need to drop the “Worker” from the OFW equation.

On Writing “Abroad Me”

Five years later, Quintos recollects life lessons as a young overseas Filipino professional in “Abroad Me: 22 Success Strategies for Young Overseas Filipinos.” Published by PageJump, the 140-page book zooms in on the personal and career concerns of young Filipino professionals who are making their mark outside the country.

Designed for the social-media savvy generation, Abroad Me’s 22 chapters read like blogs and contain simple yet engaging workbook-style reflections. For each chapter, there are even recommended hash tags to use in social media to connect with other readers.

“I wrote the book because I strongly believe that, even when we chose to live and work in a different country, the new breed of overseas Filipinos shouldn’t stop making things better for the Philippines,” says author Quintos, who is also the founder of www.HayPinas.org. “This responsibility goes beyond the billion dollar remittances we send back home.”

New breed of OFWs

Unlike previous generations of OFWs, today's new breed of overseas Filipinos land in more white-collar jobs with titles like software engineers, advertising executives, or health and wellness professionals. But even though they’re tech savvy and with 24/7 access to the Internet and social media, many still struggle to find information about their specific concerns.

Abroad Me offers a refreshing take on overseas life. It challenges readers to be clear on their motivations for going abroad. The book explains that being uprooted from the comforts of home to live in a foreign country is both an adventure and a very serious undertaking.

And yet even before prospective OFWs can leave, securing paperwork as a direct hire from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) is already quite a struggle. The process is certainly not for the faint of heart, and so the first part of Abroad Me dishes out advice in preparing to depart to another country.

Staying on or returning home?

Latest statistics show that for every five OFWs, only two have savings. Considering that OFWs collectively send around $25 billion in annual remittances, it means that a huge amount of money goes to waste. Abroad Me gently reminds against the many consumerist temptations confronting overseas Filipinos. It offers some tips in budgeting, investing, and securing the financial future of overseas Filipinos. Whether they finally decide to stay on or plan to return home, Abroad Me also outlines the things to consider in taking the next step in an OFW’s life.

Regina Arquiza, a broadcaster formerly based in South Korea who received the Migrant Media award from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, describes the book as “an eye-opener.” She believes that the book "gives overseas Filipinos a holistic perspective of what they need to know, what battles they need to face, what kind of reality awaits them, and what to anticipate from unexpected circumstances."

Abroad Me is available in National Bookstore, PowerBooks, and Fully Booked branches in the Philippines. For OFWs anywhere else in the world, the book may also be ordered on Amazon.com. For a preview and for bonus content, go to www.abroadme.com.ph.