Many of us wished to work abroad because we wanted a good life for ourselves and our family in the Philippines.
I am one of those who dreamed of a better future abroad but never did I plan of working in the Middle East – specifically, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But with God’s grace, I was able to stay for almost 10 years. Hooray!
It was in June 2009, when a high school friend asked me, “Why not give it a shot? Work with me in Saudi Arabia?” – and so, my story began.
I was in my mid 20’s back then. I worked as an Administrative Assistant in a Government Hospital in Riyadh, the Central Region in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Getting used to living and working in a new country is always a challenge. Different culture and religion, no families, new work assignment, new colleagues and new boss. It’s like a roller-coaster-ride!
But how did I managed to stay in KSA and worked for almost a decade?
Here are some of my tips:
1. Be kind and respectful to whomever you meet or work with.
I am not in my own country. I am just like any other overseas worker: Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepalis, Indian, etc. and most of them have the lowest form of work. I learned to value them as I value my fellow Ka Babayan. They are as hardworking like Filipinos. I tried to be kind and respectful to them and in return they respected and treated me the same way.
2. Love your work, even if it is hard.
I learned to come to work as early as I can. So, I would be able to prepare for the daily tasks. It became a habit and as time goes by the work became easier. I tried to learn everything and have mastered most of the work. I ended up teaching new staff. All the while I thought my work was difficult, but with love and commitment, it became simpler.
3. Save, save and save.
Before, every salary day I spend it on travel, new stuff, sent money home and it was fine. Never did I imagine that I will be having my own family in Saudi Arabia. I met my husband there and we had a son. Everything changed, all my priorities changed. I value money now. And save money as much as I can. Working abroad is not a lifetime career.
4. Be honest in everything you do, even no one is watching you.
We may be lazy sometimes at work but still pretend that we are working. But then, I learned that true character is doing things right specially at work even no one is looking at us. Trust me, all your hard work will be rewarded.
5. Stay Healthy – Eat right and exercise.
No one will take care of you if you are abroad. So better keep fit. Exercise regularly, jump off from that chair you are sitting for 3 hours already. Drink lots of water. Eat nutritious foods. You might be tempted to eat fast food and most of Saudi cuisines are rich in fats. Unfortunately, I have to deal now with my high cholesterol and blood pressure.
6. Prayer is our only weapon.
I saw military tanks and soldiers gathered and being send off to the Northern Borders of KSA to witness the war. In the news, missiles were being launched to a nearby place in KSA. I heard an explosion of a gasoline truck next to the hospital we were working. I told myself, “Why I am still here?”. My faith kept me strong and my prayers kept me safe.
7. Fight a good fight.
Honestly, not everyone will be kind to you. Some will even put you down. Sad to say just to give them a good reputation. Fight for what you believe is fair and just. But always fight with dignity and grace. Don’t put down your level. I learned this the hard way.
8. Be friends abroad and be a family in the Philippines
Real friends are hard to find – that’s true! In times of trouble, you will meet those people who are true to you. Remember to keep those special people in your life. You only meet them once in a lifetime. Soon, we come back home and will realize you’ve become like a family and life will never be the same again without them.
9. Take it easy, have time to relax and unwind.
Saudi Arabia may not be an open country like the Philippines but I have to say they have amazing shopping malls and relaxing places that we can visit. After few days’ work, give yourself a chance to unwind to separate our mind from the stressful environment of our workplace. It a simple gift we can give ourselves from being a hardworking person.
10. Life in Saudi Arabia is not permanent.
For almost 10 long years, I’ve finally decided that it’s time to leave. It was a difficult moment in my life, to choose a different path. But for my son, I am willing to sacrifice everything. Life in Saudi Arabia is not permanent and we should always be ready to come back home.
My stay in Saudi Arabia has been the most fruitful years of my life.
I became a better version of myself. I am glad that it was a positive outcome.
God has planned it for me.
by Leslie Anne Angeles-Quizon