Pandemic Reflections: There Is No Place Like Home

Contributed by This is my Edventure

Five years ago, I had the opportunity to live and work abroad. It was a terrifying decision to make, but I felt the need to do so. First, I was not sure if I did the correct thing. Still fresh in my mind are the days when I used to complain and cry.

It was in the first couple of years that I almost quit. But after quite some time, I learned to enjoy my life outside of the Philippines. It brought me to the mindset that I would never work in my country again. However, after a lot of thinking during three months of quarantine, I got this epiphany that there is .

The ups and downs of living abroad

Life abroad was not always beautiful

My stay outside the Philippines spanned a half-decade. Five years of my life were spent outside my comfort zone, and this experience taught me a lot of things. I was 23 at that time; though I passed my teenage years, I grew up in an Asian family with close family ties.

Living outside the country was difficult. I had no choice but to be independent: I had to do all the chores by myself, and no one was there to look after or check me. I remember the toughest times I had were those periods when I got sick. Getting sick was really hard because I would have to take care of myself alone. Avoid getting ill — that was my number one rule.

Another downside of living abroad was missing special occasions back home: a number of Christmases and New Years, and birthdays of my family members. (Thank God for technology; nowadays, it makes it easier to be reconnected with loved ones during special occasions.) Oh, and there was going home for a quick vacation and returning back to work — it’s the saddest part, that feeling when you have to leave again after a month’s holiday. I almost got used to that local life and was forced to go back to work all over again. 

Massive changes

Though there were hard times, I did not regret it. I thought of quitting a lot of times, but I knew that stopping wouldn’t take me further.

Working abroad paved the way for a lot of opportunities — doors were opened, and little by little, I was getting blinded by the results. Career advancement was there: I got three promotions over a length of four years, and my pay scale was getting higher from the time I started. I got to buy things I wanted without even having to think if they were necessary. Back to back holidays were booked. I got myself a house in the Philippines, which was by far, I think, the best purchase I made. Well, it hasn’t yet been fully paid — but I am still proud of it.

The only constant thing in life is change

Feeling stuck

Bit by bit, I fell into a trap. A trap that I did not want to get out of. In spite of the fact that I knew the way out, I decided to stay. The place I used to call home no longer excited me. While I still looked forward to seeing my family, the sense of living in my home country didn’t give me joy. I saw myself running away, losing that fire of wanting to go back home. 

So when the situation arose that I needed to part ways with my previous company, I ran, booked a ticket to Europe, and looked for some time to reflect on things. After a course of three weeks travelling around Europe and trying to look for answers, I went back to Kuwait to fix my things. I made the decision to go back home.

It was not easy. I had to do a lot of thinking. So, I decided to make some backup plans. I applied for other jobs in two other countries, one in the United Arab Emirates and another in Spain. Fortunately, I got offered both jobs and I just needed to choose. I was feeling a bit of relief because I didn’t need to go back home. 

Consider all the possibilities

But out of nowhere, the pandemic struck. It closed all borders, and businesses weren’t doing well. My one job application was on hold and I needed to let go of the other one. I went into quarantine for three months, and this gave me a lot of downtime. This event made me dive into deep thinking. Plans don’t always go as well as they should — but I think that adds to the thrill of life. 

At this time, I noticed that home was calling. No matter how hard I tried running away or putting all my efforts into staying far from the Philippines, home was still calling. At some point, I didn’t see myself anywhere after this event but back in the Philippines. The fear of starting over again really bothered me; nevertheless, as I said, it adds to the thrill of life. It’s all in the mind. You do not have to start over again — you just need to continue living.

Learn when to stay and move forward

They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Partly true, but for me, no. Over the course of six months of trying to think about how my life would turn out, I finally came to a conclusion: Life starts in your comfort zone. Life starts back home. There is . In the present situation where the world is in chaos, the best thing to do is to spend time with your family at home. 

Also read: COVID-19 Lockdown Reflection: 9 Things I Realise I Take for Granted

There is

I have already become a better version of myself. With all the learning I acquired staying abroad, I am confident that I can make the most out of it. In this fast-moving world, toning down and resting for a while is okay. There is no harm in staying put and just enjoying the fruits of your hard work.

Do not worry and don’t get anxious too about the future. Savour the moments. On top of that, trust God. He built the way for you. Believe in His plans and promises. As mentioned in Isaiah 43:16:

This is what the Lord says;

He who made a way through the sea,

a path through the mighty waters.

Adjusting back to your usual way of life will not be that hard. Have you experienced living abroad and by any chance, be it voluntary or forced, you had to go back to your home country? What made you decide that it is the right time to be home? How does it feel? Let me know.

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