Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) have been branded as modern day heroes for their sacrifices to support their families. As of September 2015, approximately 2.4 million OFWs were working abroad.
With so many of our fellow countrymen going down this road, there now exists the OFW culture. Here are seven things that only an OFW would understand:
1.) Culture shock is a real thing.
Yes, it is. The first time you land in a foreign country, especially in one with many cultural practices and traditions, you begin to understand how an alien must feel like, you’re likely to get some things wrong on your first attempt to fit in, but don’t take it personally.
Give yourself a few weeks to get settled in and you’ll find yourself up to speed in no time.
2.) Discrimination is basic.
Sad to say, we live in a world where racial slurs and stereotyping are far too common despite being globally regarded as unacceptable. Even worse is all we can do is suck it up. There are many forms of discrimination, but none more offensive than the other.
Over time you’ll learn ways to deal with it without creating damage. It’s always handy to carry a lot of patience and self-control in your arsenal.
3.) Everything makes you miss home.
For some reason, everything you see reminds you of home. Sometimes, a colleague’s mannerism in a given situation brings back memories of a friend back in the Philippines, or a song on the radio brings up the time when you and your family went on a road trip where that same song played repeatedly.
Whatever it is, you’ve come to associate what the senses perceive with something you were subconsciously missing.
4.) Sleep is definitely not only for the weak.
The work is tough and the hours are long. That doesn’t make you weak, but it sure does make you tired. Sleep is one of the things you look forward to most.
On some free days, you do house chores or go out with friends, but mostly, you just want to catch up on your rest.
5.) Conversion is key.
You just can’t help it. Between knowing how much to send back home and gauging whether you should get yourself that new toy, it’s become a practice for OFWs to convert to peso and vice versa to know exactly where you stand financially. “Is it cheaper to buy it here or back home?” Convert and then you can decide.
6.) Balikbayans are always associated with big boxes full of treats.
Sales are one of the things Filipinos live for, whether or not we’d like to admit it, we can tend to be a bit materialistic. Getting something you want for a good price, especially when it’s to bring it back home as pasalubong, is one of the life’s simple joys.
Who wouldn’t love to put a smile on Nanay and Tatay’s face when they open that box?
7.) You feel like a foreigner in your own country.
As soon as you become an OFW, you’ll find yourself feeling different and lonely in a foreign country. But who would have thought that you’d feel that way when you come home, too? It isn’t as alienating as being in an entirely different part of the world, but you’ll realize that you’ve changed somehow, and the things you’ve grown used to while working away are just as foreign to the Pinoys as it was when you first arrived abroad.