Exactly six months ago, I left the Philippines and exchanged a relatively secure and comfortable life for something that I have always dreamed about. Right after getting that student visa, I can still remember how busy, stressful and emotional those last two and a half weeks were prior to my big adventure. Almost every day, I was meeting a friend or a group of friends to say goodbye because I didn’t knew then when I will be coming back. In the midst of the many OFWs at the departure gate, I was in a crying frenzy while talking to my family and closest friends over the phone. Just minutes before the airplane landed at Paris CDG airport, I can’t believe I haven’t ran out of tears and I was still crying some more. What was playing in my brain is a scenario of how I would hurriedly reclaim my baggage so I could dash towards the departure area to buy the next available ticket bound for Manila. If I were a little scared, I might have just held back and chickened out. But I know myself better and it would have been way crazier not to have pursued the opportunities ahead of me. So the minute I set my foot outside the plane, I forced the tears from falling down. They never did since then.
It is normal to expect that life would somehow be a bit difficult considering the sacrifices and the adjustments that one has to make while living in a foreign city. After all, there are so many things to be afraid of. Getting sick. Being homesick. Not finding work. Not fitting in. Feeling lonely. Realizing one day that it is not your destiny to live where you think you belong. Fortunately, I did not have to go through any of that. For me, it was really a matter of mindset. I could have sulked and worried all day but I chose not to because I felt that it was a waste of my time and energy constantly thinking about the worst things that could happen. I have always believed that the more I think about things working in my favor, more and more positive experiences will come my way. Indeed, they did! One pleasant surprise after another came my way without even asking and all I had to do is say yes. My gratitude journal is the proof of the countless memorable things that I am very grateful for.
In the last six months, I met a lot of awesome people and became good friends with many of them, been in 17 different cities across four countries, treated to a variety of delicious food, went out and partied as if I was still in college, got used to drinking wine and beer, improved my French a lot and even explored France with friends visiting from around the world. In such a short span of time, I have experienced more than what I asked for so I can’t help but be excited about what’s in store for me in the next six months. March – Milan. April – London. May – Vienna. June – French Open Finals. July/August – London and the possibility of seeing the Olympics. Last year, I was also praying for a chance to go back home so I could see two very close friends get married. God surely found a way to fulfill it and He gladly granted my request. To kick off the next six months, I will have my first trip back to the Philippines in less than two weeks!
When I come back here in France, I know it will be different. I won’t cry any longer as I bid my family and friends goodbye or when I’m at the departure gate or moments before the plane lands. I feel that I already surpassed the test of living abroad and I proved myself that I’m meant to do this. Looking back, this is the life I have always imagined and I have been playing this scene over and over my head years ago. I was re-watching Steve Jobs’ commencement address to the students of Stanford University and he said something that I can personally relate to, “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Life will throw us many challenges and whatever it is that we are given, we have the power to choose our response – either we see it as an opportunity or as a problem. We have the right to cry. We have the right to be sad. But that period should stop. At times, I know may get some things that I do not want but I am prepared to accept that those are the things that I exactly need. My faith is running deep and I have firm trust that things will all work out for the best in the end.