How I Became an Expat Against All Odds

When I was a kid, a fortuneteller told my mother that my destiny lays in a foreign land. Of course, she didn’t believe and took it as a sweet joke. But I believed because I was reading too much Viking romance novels dreaming about a blonde warrior prince soon to take me away to the Norwegian fjords, LOL.

When I graduated from college, I applied for work abroad. Again, reality put me down and I ended up in a government job. My future was at least secured and I had just learned that I was chosen to be promoted just as I was introduced to a Norwegian by a former boss. Life can certainly take an unexpected turn. Suddenly, my childhood dream came through in a mature and prudent way. I was very happy. Travel was not important for me any longer. We got married and settled in my hometown Davao.

We lived a harmonious and good life in a big house where also my mother and sisters moved in after a while. Our plan was to stay in Davao forever. But after two years, my husband developed a chronic irritated throat due to severe air pollution from traffic and the never-ending forest fires in Indonesia.

The doctors had no cure so we decided to move to a better environment. My husband traveled in advance and found a nice flat for rent in a small coastal community one hour drive east of Málaga, Spain.   I traveled alone on a one-way ticket in June 2016. It was a thrilling experience because I was first denied to enter the Lufthansa plane in Hong Kong, and in Frankfurt, I was denied to enter the Schengen area. But I managed to fight me through.

Prior to our big move, I had many questions about everything connected to a new life abroad. Luckily, there are many ex-pat forums and communities to explore. People share their experiences from contemplating moving, the moving process itself, arriving in a new place, and their daily challenges. Without the helpful tips and stories of other ex-pats, I would have felt very insecure.

Living in Spain

Being an ex-pat is life-changing for me, and the Internet just made it easier. There are lots of rental and buying options for houses online. The trick is just to find the good local ones, ex-pat forums are very helpful for this. Meet-ups are very common too and a good way to be introduced to new surroundings.

I am still struggling a little to adapt to the Spanish lifestyle. Learning the language can be hard, but it is essential so it’s only to keep on trying and failing and trying again. Homesickness does happen once in a while but Spain has so much to offer that compensates well. But of course, it is not for everyone. I have read some write-ups about people returning home because of work issues and problems of adapting to the local culture. That’s why it is so important to ask questions and to be as prepared as possible.  Sites like is a very good place to start and if you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate. Just do it, and participate in sewing the world together.


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