In these hard times, many of us aspire to work overseas. With inflation around, many of us seek for greener pasture to support our family. And for some, the hopeless feeling toward the government and the country compliments the pile of reasons in leaving, for better or for worse. However, going overseas is not as simple as buying a plane ticket and exploring the big world out there. There are a baggage of considerations that you should ponder before accepting the offered ‘comfortable” and most commonly sugar-coated life overseas. I should know this. I am an OFW.
Now, let me share to you the TOP 10 Questions that you should ask yourself before you give your “yes” to working or living overseas, and leave behind your family and loved ones. Should you be able to confidently say that you have the right objectives and plans in flying in wonderland, well, no one is stopping you in packing your stuff and hopping on a plane, even as quick as today.
- WHAT IS MY OBJECTIVE? A body without a skeleton is lifeless, useless. A building without a steel framework or cement can’t be build. Truth be told, foundations are important, critical at all times. And in real life for aspiring overseas workers, your objectives are your foundations or frameworks that will keep you going and succeed. Whether because you want to support your family? Because you have to pay debts? Or simply because you want to save enough for your future? Let these reasons be your objectives and tools in conquering the challenges of overseas life. Bear in mind that unsure and instant objectives won't work in long run. So, give yourself a time and plot out that goals in your mind. There's more at stake in going away to live in a so-called Disneyland than be with your family despite the rough times.
- AM I EMOTIONALLY READY? It’s a big world out there. Once you throw yourself in a deep water, you really can’t say when will the shark come to devour you, how loneliness can be as fatal as being hit by a poisonous jelly fish, and when can you meet a school of fish that can blend with your personality. Bottom line, you should ask yourself how emotionally ready you are in finding a life overseas as you work and earn money. However, being emotionally ready can be fine-tuned with your objectives. Again, it all boils down with having firm objectives to keep you emotionally focused and strong. Expect that homesickness will knock at your personal door from time to time, unpredictably 24/7. At these times, simply believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
- DO I HAVE ENOUGH POCKET MONEY? Most overseas workers take risk. They leave everything behind, even their happiness, to bring home a bright future for their family. However, with so much focus on getting that 'bread and butter,' most overseas workers forget that they need pocket money, their safety net. Truth is, emergencies are unavoidable. What if you have to go back in the Philippines because your company suddenly closes? Or what if your papers are tampered? What if everything is a scam? In these circumstances, it is safe to better have some pennies in your baggage to save you from mayhem. Despite the truth that your family looks forward to what you can provide, they would also want you to be safe and heathy.
- HOW WILL I HANDLE HOMESICKNESS? Anyone experiences homesickness. It’s innate to someone who lives or works away from their families. However, homesickness overseas is very different. Just think of the years of separation with your loved ones will truly crash your heart. This should be well-thought by an aspiring overseas workers. Thinking on how will you handle homesickness can start as early as packing your luggage. Perhaps, you can ask your family to print a family picture that you can bring. You can also bring some authentic pinoy food or 'pabaon' that may remind you of their sweetness in your first few days overseas. Or how about asking them letters that you can read whenever you feel lonely. But then, in today’s technology, a click of the mouse can put you closer with your loved ones.
- WHAT GROUP DO I WANT TO SEE AND BE PART OF? It’s never too early to predict or forecast the type of groups you want to be part of in your overseas sojourn. Well, for Filipinos, it’s not hard to find a group that you can join in. In fact, by the time you reach your destination, Filipinos will give you a warm welcome. They will stuff you with delicious pinoy dishes. They will even tour you around. Nevertheless, groups will help you survive in going overseas. Perhaps, as a jumpstart, you can do some research on the current and registered groups in your country of destination. These groups will surely keep your sadness away!
- HOW STRONG IS MY FAITH IN GOD? Keeping focused on your objectives is good. But strengthening your faith in God is definitely your key to succeed overseas. Believe it or not, by making your faith to God stronger, especially in your times of sadness or extreme frustration in an unknown island, you can find happiness in simple things and even in unexpected times. There are lots of challenges in working overseas, loads of sacrifices that will truly put you to the test. But with faith in him, you can enjoy tranquility, imbibe so much hope and receive constant blessings.
- HOW MUCH WILL I EARN? For most of us, earning enough is the reason why taking risk to work overseas is worth it. With this in mind, knowing how much you will earn and evaluating it as compared with what you currently earn should be considered. If the company’s offer can be earned in your country, perhaps it’s time to think again and again. While they say that money can’t buy anything, just bear in mind that going overseas should at least compensate the sacrifices that you will take for you and your family. And going back to your objectives, identifying your expected monthly salary can be started as early on your job hunting.
- HOW MANY YEARS I INTEND TO STAY OVERSEAS? “Bahala na” syndrome won’t work overseas. Well, actually it works for some but mostly short lived. Given the importance of planning, you should think of the years of your stay overseas. A foreign country will never be yours; everything is temporary. On top of that, with the risk you are taking, how much can you endure to just always be away from your child especially in their growing or formative years. Perhaps you can evaluate this as relative to your personal and financial objectives. Truth is, whether you want to stay for 2 years or even 10 years, it is practical to impose deadline on your years of stay so you will be goal-oriented and savings focused. This could also help you to assess the years and requirements if you wish to bring your family, for a vacation or for good, in your host country.
- WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT THE COUNTRY I’M GOING TO? Most individuals who want to go overseas are overwhelmed with excitement – the paperworks to settle and the left and right despedida from family and friends. Apparently, most aspiring overseas worker does not see the potential of doing a bit of research to know about the country of their destination. This is my mistake too. I didn’t do some research about Brunei not until my friend Agatha handed me over her specially made brochure. The brochure was packed with information about living in Brunei – customs, churches, emergency hotline and more. Frankly, reading some facts about your country of destination is a big help. Not only you’ll be aware of what’s the tourist spots that you can visit in your off day, you can also be guided with the “Dos” and “Don’ts” that may spare you from ending behind bars or paying some fines.
- WHERE SHOULD I INVEST MY DOLLARS? Hard-earned money can only be enjoyed if properly invested. Investment is an important consideration should you want to head on and work in a foreign land. Planning on investments should start as early on evaluating your readiness to go abroad. Should I invest in a house? How about a land where I can farm? A small business? Which bank offers high interest rates in time deposits? Should I save in peso or in dollars? With these questions, you can paint a picture of how would you want to grow your wealth. You can also seek some advice from financial planner on how you would manage your finances. Plus, with proper evaluation of investments you want to take, you can say to yourself that you won’t be forever tied in working overseas, away from your loved ones.
Whether you want to go or not to go and work overseas, the decision largely depends in you. Afterall, it is you who will endure the sacrifices in exchange of a bright future; and enjoy the fruits of your hard work, soon. However, should you want to pursue a life away from your family, it is best to equip yourself with a smart plan and a big chunk of determination to succeed. At least, proper goals set and some back up plans can give you the main goal you really want to achieve in your overseas quest; that is to live a comfortable and happy life WITH your family and friends.
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