They say dreams come true in America. It is the land of opportunities. America, or the US, is one of the biggest countries in the world, and one with the highest number of migrants / expats. People migrate to America in search for a new life, a new beginning, opportunity.
Filipinos are no exception to the rule. They too try to make a better living and make their dreams come true. The migrant worker life is the ultimate sacrifice people can make. Sometimes, workers leave their whole family behind them, and sometimes, the family comes with them. In both cases, the sacrifice is huge. However, faced with bleak economic prospects in the Philippines, many Filipinos leave their homeland in search of employment. And it is not always milk and honey. It is a common misconception that going to America solves everything. People in the Philippines usually see the pictures and think it is easy. OFWs in America work low salary jobs, sometimes more than 12 hours per day, stay overtime hours and so on.
The American lifestyle
Unlike the Philippines, where the lifestyle is more family friendly and family oriented, living in the US is a different thing. One job may not cover all the expenses so both the husband and wife have to work even at the expense of spending time with children. The day starts early in the morning, with husband going to work with car (as offices are far from home, and there is no way to get there on time without car). Both husband and wife work at least 8 hours per day, sometimes they even stay overtime, and come back home late, tired, exhausted and cranky. All they want to do is lie down and get some time off. However, relax is not an option, kids are waiting for their parents to come back from home. There is nobody to prepare lunch while grownups are at work. Hiring a domestic worker is not an option, as it can be a very expensive option.
Being tired and yelled at work during the day leaves a toll on individuals. Migrant workers rarely go out. There is not much desire to cook or prepare food, and they usually end up ordering pizza / Chinese food or something else. On the other hand, children under 5 years are left at a nursery, which also costs money. They spend the whole day at a nursery or a day care center.
Social life is another thing that is different. People in America simply have limited time, or desire to hang out. Forget the TV shows that show people hanging out at bars every night. It doesn’t work that way. Especially for expats taking jobs in the low-salary range, as they barely manage to cover monthly expenses. And even if they want to socialize, expats need to find other people that want to hang out that day, which is a bit tricky. If you are not tired to go and hang out, chances are, your friends are tired. Neighbors and friends usually live far apart from each other. The bigger the city is, the higher the chances are friends and colleagues live at least one hour drive from each other.
Filipinos go to America in order to earn more money and live more wealthy life, but they are soon faced with several challenges they didn?t anticipate. The following are some of them:
- Buying a car is never simple, and it is even harder for expats. As they are new in the country, they have no credit history. Banks rarely give credits to people without credit history.
- Buying a car is not the only problem. Once they buy car, they must also pay for insurance for the car. Payments for car cost around $600 month (this includes insurance, credit, gas)
- Rents are significantly higher in the US. They take up most of the monthly earnings.
- One of the biggest challenges for families coming to America is to adjust to the new lifestyle. There is not much time for intimacy, romance and overall time for spending with loved ones. This leads to argues and in most cases, divorce after 10 or more years.
- Being on time for work is a MUST. There are no exceptions and no excuses. Being late at work can even lead to getting fired from the job.
While going to the United States is a great opportunity to improve way of life, it is also expected that migrating Filipinos work hard — both husband and wife — to achieve it.