When circumstances prompted me to spend time in Europe, I was more scared than excited. To many, it would have been the opposite. Who doesn’t want to see Europe? I was given the opportunity to travel and work remotely at the same time. This meant I could wake up in any city, see the sights and invade any public library to do work.
Although I had to cut my trip short, instead of feeling bad I was grateful to experience amazing adventures, meet beautiful people and bring home the lessons I learned while away from home.
Here’s what I learned:
- Homesickness hurts. It hurts A LOT.
I don’t know how millions of Filipino Overseas Workers do it, but I salute them for their daily courage to be away from home. It’s probably one of the worst feelings in the world. Unlike my other travels which usually only lasts a few days, this one was much longer.
On my second week there, the tinge of excitement was completely drained. The winter weather wasn’t helping as I was left feeling homesick. I found myself in a place with a different language, different driving rules, and I barely had any friends. People didn’t have the usual Filipino warmth I was used to. On a flight to Frankfurt, I came across the movie Brooklyn. It was about an Irish girl moving to the States. One of the many remarkable lines that struck me was this, “Homesickness is like most sicknesses. It will pass.”
- Everyone thinks you are living the life, but they have no idea.
With social media, people think you are living the life just because you are traveling. I personally think that this is a shallow mindset that has developed along with the growth of social media platforms. We all have our own struggles no matter where we are in the world. It’s a sad fact that studies have proven that looking at Facebook makes other people feel sorry for themselves. A quote from the piece, “In the new study from University of Houston, the researchers queried people about their Facebook use, how likely they were to make social comparisons (e.g., ‘I always pay a lot of attention to how I do things compared with how others do things’), and how often they experienced depressive symptoms. It turned out that people who used Facebook more tended to have more depressive symptoms – but social comparison was a mediating factor only for men.”
Regulate your social media use and change your mindset!
- Sometimes being away helps you determine your true friends.
Let’s go back to this article. When you are away, there are times you will be lonely. It’s always nice to get messages from friends who sincerely want to know how you are doing. Friends who put effort to text, call or stay awake just to catch up. Friends who are excited to know what you are up to and listen to all your crazy stories and adventures. Friends who make you feel that distance is not a hindrance to keep a good bond. These are the friends worth keeping.
- You will learn to have more appreciation for your roots.
Aside from visiting new places, I also love seeing new faces. Before I left, I joined an expat community called Internations to interact with people from different countries , different races, languages, beliefs, personalities, professions, etc. During interactions with new cultures, you quickly realize how everyone has very different opinions and stories that never fail to amaze. This also makes you realize how fortunate you are to be born a Filipino. I met people who didn’t know anything about the Philippines except the news relating to terrorism and calamities. It’s always a privilege to share the many wonderful things we offer and why we really live up to the tag line, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.” It was such an eye opener to learn to embrace our roots no matter how flawed.
- You will learn to be more comfortable on your own.
I felt like I have grown up a lot! I’m not proud to say this, but I just learned to cook and do my own laundry in Europe. Yikes! Let’s admit it – we are spoiled by our house helpers in the Philippines. Although it was a bit sad at the start, I learned to love the long walks alone, celebrate the sight of sunshine like any Swede and enjoy the comfort of silence. I can be in a big crowd and feel completely at peace by myself.
- Carry sunshine no matter where you go.
We never fully realize how important sunshine is until we go through some grey days. As a girl from the tropics, I’m a master of hiding from the sun. So it was incredibly amazing to see people go out to celebrate its presence. Gloomy weather really makes people sad and depressed. As Filipinos, we are known to be happy and warm even in the middle of struggles and challenges. I always felt like I carried a ray of sunshine with me. If you carry that within you, it doesn’t matter where you are or how cold it is, you will always shine and still find a way to be happy.
- Home is where the heart is.
The Philippines is home. Cebu is home. But things change, because we meet with different people who create a massive impact in our life, the meaning of home transcends to where our heart stays and lives. Do you agree? When I came back, I thought this was home but I guess not. I left my heart in the hands of a little boy who woke me up in Monday mornings, whose hugs and smiles warmed my heart and whose mere presence made every day more beautiful and meaningful. That’s home. He is home. I guess I’m home but I’m not really home. So this is what it feels like for people who are traveling, fall in love but to leave it all for home! (I’m talking about my nephew.)
- There is a big world out there to conquer!
We trap ourselves in our own little bubble. We drag our feet to work, we get caught in the same massive traffic, we go to the same cafes, order the same drink, see the same friends, do the same workout and keep the same daily routine for years. Why? Because it’s our comfort zone and it’s safe! We want to be safe. We avoid change. We are afraid of taking chances BUT beyond our comfort zone is a BIG BIG world waiting for us to conquer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to rush and do things without thinking. What I’m trying to say is that if you just take a leap of faith to get out of your comfort zone, then you might be surprised. The world has a lot to offer for those brave enough to take risks!
I’ll end this by sharing my favorite lines from the movie Brooklyn. You can watch the movie trailer here.
“You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won’t kill you. And one day the sun will come out – you might not even notice straight away, it’ll be that faint. And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize… that this is where your life is.”