It was 2006 when I landed on one of the seven emirates of United Arab Emirates, the famous Dubai. My cousin was the one who encouraged me to go and work there since she was already living there for many years, so I thought why not give it try. The fact that I didn’t have a stable job in the Philippines gave me more reasons to look for a greener pasteur in another country. So I took the opportunity, got a tourist visa, packed my luggage and flew all the way in the city of gold. Living far away from my family was not that too hard for me because I grew up independently. Since my visa was only for tourist/visit, it’s validity was only for two months. I need to find a job before it expire to avoid going back home. Knowing that my cousin was there to help me in everything while looking for a job boosted my confidence to find what’s there for me in that foreign land. I sent applications to a lot of companies where I knew suited my qualifications and work experiences. And finally my luck came when I hired as a cashier in a luxury coffee shop with a good pay. It was really a perfect job for me as I love coffee so much. I had no problems working there with different nationalities because they were all nice people.
My journey in the café ended when an International School received my application I sent months ago just before I got to work in the coffee shop, and invited me for an interview. I was an education graduate so I thought that’ll be a good job for me as I could practice being a professional teacher. Fortunately I was hired as an assistant teacher and it was great as the salary package is quite better knowing that I didn’t have any teaching experienced in the Philippines. So I grabbed the chance, left my work in the café and started a new journey. I also needed to moved out from my cousin’s place because it’s quite far from the school. It’s good that I found an accommodating place to rent in, with Filipino room mates. Dubai is known as an expensive city, the rent is very high therefore tenants used to share a room to lessen the pay. One thing I like about Dubai, a lot of fellow Filipinos around, I had the feeling of being close at home.
I needed to adjust as I started working in the school. It was exciting but had some ups and downs experiences during my stay. Me and my other Asian colleagues encountered racial discrimination among students and staff. Some of them were looking down on Asian at some point, most especially when they learned that you came from a third world country. I just ignored them and looked for the positive side, as there were still nice people left around. Though it’s bearable, yet there were times that I couldn’t take it. When the school management changed, the treatment among us Asian became worse than before. In that time I decided to not renew my contract with them after a year of service. I knew very well then that I wasn’t in my own country and have to dealt with difficult situation such as the likes, but I have also feelings. If I knew they’re already hitting me below the belt, it’s time that I should fight in a good way. I thought of going back home in the Philippines after I resigned, but I didn’t wanted to be like a failure, ending my journey without a plan. So I decided to stay as Dubai was already my second home and my friends here became my adopted family. It’s difficult for me to leave instantly. I was still lucky because after a week of being a jobless, I was hired as an office staff in a landscaping company. I guessed that Dubai still need my service.
While enjoying my third year exploring Dubai, an unexpected tragic situation happened which put a period on my journey. My beloved cousin who’s been there for every stepped I took in Dubai, suddenly died. She’s living then in Syria because she already married one. It was one of the saddest event in my life. She’s been my pillar while away from my family. She left her four months old daughter without even introducing her to our family back home in our country. Without a second thought, I took a leave from my work and went to Syria to personally bid my last goodbye to her. That incident made a huge impact in my life overseas. For the first time in three years, I felt the what they so-called homesick. I decided to end my Dubai journey and went back to the Philippines, not only because I lost my cousin, it’s just that I suddenly missed my family and needed to heal my homesickness. It was a tough decision indeed, perhaps it’s God’s way of preparing me for my next journey. And now after more than ten years, I still missed the atmosphere of Dubai, it’s skyscrapers, wonderful spots, the people I encountered along the way and most of all, the experiences which served as both an inspiration and lesson to me that’ll be added in my book of life. I will visit you again Dubai and pick up the wonderful memories I had with you, definitely, someday.