Expatriate life in the Philippines is often lonesome at the start. It picks up after a while, but it often takes a while before everything becomes a comfortable routine. The first challenge usually is how to get used to a place. But one must first learn to love the place before any thought of it can get settled in the mind.
For expat life to be pleasant, one must learn to like people around one’s environment. That’s the main key. Then getting used to the place becomes automatic. But how does an expat learn to like strange people? There are often 3 groups of people in an expat life: people at home, in the community, and in the workplace.
The first phase is home. Learn to like it and one realizes there’s no place like it. By “home” of course, we mean the Philippine residence of an expat, not where an expat’s family is—except if the whole family’s with the expat here. In such case, expat life becomes simpler and “home” will be easier to like. It will just be a matter of getting used to the physical house—rooms, toilet, dining, kitchen, TV programs, water, and food.
But often, expat life is living away from family. And what is called “home” is a strange residential unit—a lonely one if occupied alone—and an uncomfortable one if shared with others, at least for the moment. So the best thing is to like the unit and its occupants.
How does one do this?
Come to terms with reality. Learn about them or play some sports or games with them, or share hobbies. Go out with them. Take note of their strong and weak points. Expat life is helped here especially when properly relating with them.
To like the community around, often roam around in free times. Expat life eases a bit when meeting some neighbors. Frequent the local stores—in the Philippines, this is one way of helping expats begin to like the place and the people in it.
In the office, where expat life will mostly be spent, having snacks and spending lunch breaks with co-workers is advisable. Don’t be a lone ranger and always isolate oneself especially during breaks. If possible, invite officemates over to one’s place on weekends, or join them sometimes in weekend escapades.
Expat life can be lonesome but it doesn’t need to be. Just learn to like people and getting used to the place will be spontaneous.