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Charting New Paths: A Filipina's Story in Switzerland

What does it mean to be an OFW? For me, it's a question that took on new meaning when I found myself in Switzerland, married to a Swiss citizen, and navigating the challenges of living and working abroad.

My situation might not fit the typical "inspiring OFW story," but as a woman, a mother, and a wife in this foreign land, my journey has been one of resilience, sacrifice, and determination – a story shared by many Filipinas who've found themselves in similar circumstances.

I think I am not alone in this mindset. Most Filipinas married to foreigners abroad and finding themselves relocating to another country for love – may relate to my story. It’s all the same old story if you ask me. I am a career–motivated woman who gave up my 20-year career and family to have a complete family abroad.


Leaving the Philippines wasn't an easy decision, especially when it meant leaving behind the familiarity of home and the comfort of a career I had built over the years. But when the choice came between raising our daughter in the Philippines or giving her a chance at a different life in Switzerland, we leaped, hoping for a brighter future.

Settling into life in Switzerland came with its own set of challenges. Learning the language, adapting to Swiss culture, and finding a stable career comparable to what I left behind were challenges I had to overcome. Struggling to keep a stable job was particularly tough for me. I often questioned whether my skills and experience from the Philippines were competitive enough in Switzerland. Insecurities and doubts hit me hard at times, but with a family to support back home, I persisted in my job search.


Many of us underestimate the adjustments required when moving abroad. Pinays working abroad often underestimate their talents, assuming that their skills from the Philippines will guarantee success in another country. I learned this the hard way. It was a rude awakening when I realized that my expectations didn't match reality. Some even give up years of education and professional experience to accept low-paying jobs just to integrate into their new home. It's a fresh start, despite a challenging one. Importantly, It's a humbling experience, but one that holds the promise of a better future.


Moving to Switzerland brought many shocks. To name some – the clean air, drinkable tap water, and excellent medical insurance system were positives, but the high cost of living was a heavy burden. Every expense felt like a weight, a reminder of the sacrifices made for the promise of a better life. And it was easy to feel lost, not fully part of the OFW community, and yet not fully assimilated into Swiss society.


But amidst the struggles, there were silver linings. Switzerland offered growth opportunities and valuable lessons in professionalism and dedication. While achieving work-life balance remained hard to find, it highlighted the importance of cherishing time with loved ones.

 As I reflect on my journey as an OFW in Switzerland, it is always a bittersweet reality that awaits me one day – the plans to return home to the Philippines. It's a silver lining that shines brightly behind all the challenges and sacrifices of living abroad. While Switzerland offers unparalleled opportunities for growth and learning, it's the thought of reuniting with family, and friends, and the familiar sights and sounds of home that truly warms my heart.


However, returning home comes with its own set of challenges, particularly the pressure to meet the heightened expectations of financial success. Switzerland's reputation as one of the world's wealthiest nations often leads to assumptions that returning OFWs are now wealthy and able to splurge on luxuries. But the truth is, no matter how far we go, the Philippines will forever be our home, filled with cherished memories and a sense of belonging that money can't buy.


In the end, it's the journey itself – with its ups and downs, struggles and triumphs – that shapes us into the resilient and determined individuals we are. As I look ahead to the future, I do so with gratitude for the lessons learned, the friendships forged, and the unwavering love and support of my Filipino community, both in Switzerland and back home. And through it all, I've discovered a strength and resilience I never knew I had. Anyway, it’s not a competition! It’s never Philippines vs Switzerland. I just simply have two places I consider home now. And in my book, that makes me the luckiest.






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