Meet Win, originally from the Philippines & now working in Muscat, Oman. His positivity & outlook towards life is endearing. He’s been living in Oman since 2011 & has seen a lot come his way by being open & receptive. Now, working as a nurse, Win talks about his story of moving here where he has learnt to embrace the culture & the lessons he has learnt along the way.
You know what, nursing wasn’t my preferred option, I was just lucky enough to pass the entrance exam!
Growing up in the Philippines in a reasonably large family taught me the value of hard work. Both my parents worked hard to provide for our daily needs & education. We aren’t a wealthy family, so my parents would wake up early & set an example for us kids to follow. As kids, during school holidays, we would have to work too. That’s just life in the Philippines. You know what, nursing wasn’t my preferred option, I was just lucky enough to pass the entrance exam! The institution is highly regarded, as offering the best nursing courses & after some hard work I graduated. Soon after, I began volunteer nursing locally until I got the opportunity to get paid a salary. In 2011, I was given a chance to work overseas and jumped at the chance.
They make me feel at home all the time & I really respect them for that
I am working in Al Masarra Hospital which is one of the government hospitals here. The nature of work is also different to what I used to do in the Philippines. I work in a multinational team where we have to learn to cope with one another so we can create a good working environment. Omanis are one of the most well mannered, genuinely polite & respectful people I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside. They are eager to help you anytime even if you don’t ask them. They make me feel at home all the time & I respect them for that. Working with Omanis every day opened up my eyes & my mind to their culture which is so different to what I’m used to in the Philipines. I have really learnt to embrace it and grown to love it.
After graduating & starting to work in the Philippines, I felt that what I was earning wasn’t enough to sustain what our family needed. I wanted to give back to my parents after helping me so much, so I decided to try my luck abroad. It was a promise I made to myself, that when I graduate, I will do everything to help out my parents. I started job hunting, attended multiple interviews but found it hard going because I lacked experience. My lucky break came in 2011. A team of Omani delegates came to the Philippines in search of staff willing to work in a new psychiatric hospital. I knew that this was my chance, so I took the exams, attended the interviews and within months I was in Oman. Back then I knew nothing about the country & I’m sorry to say I didn’t even know that the nation existed! Even though it wasn’t my first choice, I consider coming here a blessing.
I didn’t know what to expect & I wasn’t sure if I could stay longer than a day!
When I landed in Oman, June of 2011, I know there was a lot that I needed to adjust to, especially the language & the culture. It’s known that as an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), it’s quite dreadful for a first timer to work in a foreign land. Back then, I didn’t know what to expect & I wasn’t sure if I could stay longer than a day! For sure at first, I was feeling uncertain as to whether to stay longer because of the cultural differences & the language barrier. Imagine going out of the room, and everyone is talking in a language that I never heard of in my entire life & the sound of mosques are calling for prayer five times daily! After some time, I got used to it & was able to learn Arabic. When it comes to culture, well, I have to know what the dos and don’ts are here in Oman. It’s a Muslim country & I respect their customs & know my restrictions as a non-Muslim expatriate here.
During my first few months here in Oman I really found the food strange. It was everything about it from the colour, to the texture, to the look & definitely the taste! Every time I saw new types of food, I found them odd & somewhat unsatisfying to my taste buds. The food here is a fusion of Indo-Arabian & honestly before coming here I had never tasted that sort of spice before, my taste buds couldn’t bear it! That is why every time someone offers me food, my hearts starts to race whether to eat it or not! In Oman, refusing food is considered quite offensive, so I had to overcome it & now I think Indo-Arabian fusion is probably the tasted food I’ve ever eaten!
Even when I was in the Philippines, my friends knew that I love to travel. A car is a must when you plan to visit the places here in Oman as the best places are scattered everywhere. I have a couple of Omani friends whom I usually hang out with during my days off from work. Still, I am mesmerized whenever I visit areas outside of Muscat. You name it & they have it here from pristine beaches, incredible wadis, beautiful sands dunes to rocky mountains, this country has it all. The roads here make it easy to get around too. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to visit & revisit the places without getting tired of them. But for the most part, meeting different kinds of people is something I treasure the most. Not only have I made friends but I’m learning so much from them too. Sharing experiences with each other has made me comfortable & it’s like I’m part of them. One of the great things that I’ve experienced & which continues to surprise me is the kind reception & hospitality of the locals when I’m travelling outside of Muscat. They usually invite me to join & sit with them even if they don’t know me at all. Hats off to them!
For the most part, meeting different kinds of people is something I treasure the most
Well, nothing compares to family, they are my strength. Every single day I miss them, that’s why I’m always keeping myself busy with work or with some other things just to divert my attention. To be honest, I had separation anxiety during my first year here in Oman. I cried a lot, I mean a lot! But little by little I’ve learned to cope with this challenge. I have to make sure that I never lose contact with family, so I regularly keep in touch. Social media is indeed a blessing especially for us, who are living far from home. The beauty of technology makes my home and family feel closer to me.
Making friends has helped me a lot, not just with Filipinos but also with other nationalities too. I am lucky that I am working in a place where there’s a lot of Filipinos around. They made adjusting easier because we share the same culture & we Filipinos know how to help each other out & are resilient. I also made a couple of close local friends here in Oman who have taught me to embrace the culture of Omanis. They have shared their history and stories with me which has made me live like one of them. For me, one way of coping is to be sensitive & to be aware of my surroundings. I am considerate towards their culture & ready to adjust knowing that Oman can be entirely different from the Philippines.
one way of coping is to be sensitive & to be aware of my surroundings
For now, I haven’t made any plans. I’m not entertaining anything, neither to migrate nor to move back to the Philippines. I’m really enjoying my stay & working here in Oman. Already, I consider it as my second home. But if fate gives me the opportunity to work & discover the other parts of the world, I’m always ready for the challenge.
Think long & hard before making the decision
Stay strong especially during the hard times
Have faith & opportunities will come your way
You’re so lucky to be given chances like this so take them