Homesickness has always plagued overseas Filipino workers (OFW) throughout the years. And for a good reason, feeling homesick manifests that affinity of the OFW with his or her family. Internet technologies and improved means of communication helped ease the feelings and virtually brought the diaspora of Filipinos worldwide closer to their families back in the Philippines. Being in new surroundings, dealing with modern culture, language, food, and climate can take time to adjust, and, until that happens, homesickness sets in.
While this feeling of loneliness indicates loyalty to family and reveal that strong bond, homesickness is a malaise that may intervene with work and may impact job performance as well as physical and emotional health. Dealing it may vary from one person to another, but there are generic ways we can attack it before it brings more trouble in your work and personal life.
Set the right mindset
You’ve come this far only to give up and return home? Not a chance. Set this tough mentality stance and imagine the efforts you had to undergo before reaching this far. Resigning from work as though you were burning bridges of the past, falling in line in a long queue to get your passport, giving up properties to pay for placement fees, and feeling nervous while being interviewed by the immigration officer, hoping to avoid offloading. You must have recited numerous novenas to realize that plan of going abroad finally, and your heart’s desire was granted. Be motivated that as you sacrifice time with family, you’ll somehow gain something: financial boost and savings and a more secure future. If not, you gained experience — a harsh one that will teach you valuable lessons in life.
Where you are now is part of the plan, and don’t disrupt the program. We hear plenty of cases when OFWs decide to go home because of extreme homesickness, only to regret and wished they held on a bit longer as they realize they have yet to pay debts incurred while applying for work abroad fully.
There are more OFWs now than before
Referring to the old reliable statistics, more Filipinos are going abroad. This reality means we will meet more kababayans, buy more Filipino goods at Pinoy shops, play the Filipino pastime of basketball on tournaments, and even meet Filipino entertainers as a way to comfort Filipinos abroad and ease that feeling of homesickness. One out of ten Filipinos is based overseas, and working abroad has become much more comfortable in many aspects than before.
Even without visiting entertainers, Filipinos gather together before a videoke set while having food and drinks is a typical way to ease homesickness abroad.
Make good use of technology
The Internet age undoubtedly brought OFWs closer to families. Parents can quickly get in touch with kids through Skype, Facebook, and text messages at minimal cost. To those who don’t have access to the web, phone rates have fallen dramatically over the years, thereby enabling families to connect with relatives abroad for a more extended period with minimal expenses. Getting in touch with friends, girlfriends, and boyfriends has undoubtedly become a much easier task to do for OFWs at this time compared to many years before.
Explore your new surroundings
Whether you’re a sales clerk in Qatar or Bahrain or a factory worker in Korea or Taiwan, there is often an opportunity to learn and appreciate your new surroundings. Spend time with friends, plan an outing, or visit local attractions. Philippine consulates and embassies stage cultural events that enable OFWs to meet new friends, and local Filipino groups often welcome new members based on interest/hobbies and geographical origins. Practice your craft (dancing, photography, martial arts, etc.) and be a positive impact on the lives of others.
Learn new things while striving for excellence at work
Instead of feeling lonely, focus your attention on improving your craft, and set goals you can achieve in the short and long term. Whether it’s to learn to operate new machinery, increase sales or work efficiency, these are motivations that help you improve your career prospects while minimizing worries back home. Eventually, these efforts will be acknowledged and rewarded. Employee of the month honors, performance bonus, or even promotion to the next level.
Invest in growing your savings
We don’t just save for our families. We also collect for our future retirement and fulfillment of our dreams, especially for unmarried OFWs. Without duping people or resorting to illegal activities, finding ways to earn more is an excellent way to divert attention from that persistent feeling of homesickness. Invest in the stock market in the Philippines using an online platform, acquire properties, or keep yourself busy with that entrepreneurial spirit. One of our aims abroad is to be financially stronger, hoping that one day we don’t have to work for employers but become employers ourselves.
Be healthy and fit
Working abroad can be physically demanding, so if you have the chance, grab the opportunity to keep fit physically and mentally. Invest in a monthly gym pass or avail of the offers in the workplace, if provided. Read materials about health (food, exercises, mental health, etc.) and understand how to keep ourselves in tip-top shape. Being healthy often means becoming more productive and less worries to take care of.
Seek guidance and ask for strength to overcome feelings of homesickness, along with resistance to temptation, avoiding trouble and power to carry out work every day. Be thankful for the gift of life, for the employer used as an instrument to fulfill dreams and for people who treat you like a member of the family.
Being an OFW is a challenge. Homesickness is part of that challenge many of us try to overcome. As we struggle to blend into our new environment while missing family members back home, remember our primary goal of going abroad. Let us not fail those who depend on us. Instead, show them we are reliable and can withstand the toughest challenges of life abroad.