4 Struggles of a Filipino Student Abroad
Karen Jane Ng
How many times have you heard a student complain about school? Answer "never," and we'll never going to believe you. It's already like a common thing for us to do every morning that we wake for school, go on our way to class, fail to answer a recitation, fail a test, are given a load of assignments, and even just every time we encounter a minor setback. But has it ever cross your mind how school life is for Filipino students staying in a foreign country, far from home?
We're not saying this out of comparison because obviously we all go through different kinds of "worse" phases in life. And you or anyone, are entitled to let out the frustrations and rants to the world. However, if you just think of the situation of our fellow Filipino youth out there, you'll be able to take in how much luckier we are compared to them to be able to pursue our studies close to the people who know us best. No matter what they're reason is for flying across the world, it isn't easy for them, that we can be sure of.
Yumi Uchiwada, 24, has made us realize that after sharing her eight-year experience in Japan. She might be living in one of everybody's dream Asian destinations, but that comes with a cost. Here are some of them:
Although the opportunity to meet new people while in Japan is there, nothing still compares to the friendship that she has built in the Philippines. Mostly, she misses her grandmother who raised her. Homesickness is not something you can overcome in a snap as it kicks in on a daily basis. The best way to at least ease the feeling is to keep in touch. "I still keep myself updated as much as possible sa mga ganap not just with people close to me, but also sa bansa natin." She also tries to distract herself by enjoying the travel and experiencing new things.
2. Language barrier
Not a day goes by in school that we don't chitchat with our friends. However, for Yumi, it does not go the same especially in a place where the native language is different and even English can't be used that much. It's an everyday struggle to communicate. Just imagine how what it's like during her first day in school? The good thing that comes from it though is the motivation for her to study Japanese vocabulary harder. "I get so frustrated kapag 'di ko naeexpress 'yung gusto kong sabihin. But that's what motivates me to study more. In a country where English can't be used that much, siyempre kailangan ako ang mag-adjust."
3. Cultural differences
Something will always set us apart from other people in terms of values, beliefs, and perspectives. It happens most often with people of different nationalities. Citing an example, Yumi said as compared to Filipinos' sense of humor and type of jokes, natives there won't ever get sarcasm. It leads her to realize that the only way to cope with the culture shock is to be open-minded. "In that way, you won't just realize but learn that there are actually people whose way of living can be totally different from yours. And you also learn how to live with them."
It's nearly impossible to see girls and boys interact inside the campus according to Yumi. Gender bias exists, and it's usually men who are superior. Catch opposite sexes together, and people will already think that you have something going on. But with as a Filipino, Yumi knows her way to survive. "First of all, don't doubt yourself and accept your identity," she said. "It's important that I stand up for myseldf para hindi ako maliitin just because iba ang lahi ko at pinalaki ako sa Pinas 'lang.' But at the same time, sttill be considerate of your surroundings. Be proud sa pagiging Filipino, but never look down on anyone."
There is nothing quite like the huge opportunity that studying abroad can give a person, but diving into that completely new life can be the most challenging sacrifice. Yumi and her Japan journey can stand proof to that. It might took her time to adapt but here she is, surviving like the strong Filipina that she is. You go, girl!