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Survival 101 for Filipinos Abroad

August 10, 2015

This post is sponsored by online money transfer service WorldRemit. Pinoy expats in more than 50 countries use WorldRemit to send money home to their friends and family in the Philippines.

Sometimes, especially in the first few months, living abroad can make you a little homesick. No matter how beautiful the city, there’s always a part of you that has a connection to your home and to your roots—especially when it comes to food. While I made my home away from family for a few years, there was always one thing I looked for: a huge heaping of extremely sour sinigang that would make my lips pucker at first sip, a warming bowl that would get me through winter. Whatever I tried to do, it just never felt exactly the same when recreating it in the tiny kitchen of my flat. It’s not all bad however; here are some quick tips to make you feel a little less homesick when living abroad.

1. Find a Filipino community and Attend Every Fiesta and Food Event Possible

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What music festival? The real party is at the annual barrio fiesta. Most embassies in major cities hold one, which comes complete with entertainment from one of our homegrown TV networks and a whole lot of Pinoy food.

2. Make Pinoy Connections (So You Have Someone to Drag to the Nearest Pinoy Restaurant If You’re Feeling Homesick)

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Make some friends that will make you feel close to home; there’s always bound to be a contingency you can get along with in your area. This is perfect if you feel like watching some TFC and getting lechon kawali in the nearest Filipino restaurant; drag them along, too!

3. Save the Nearest Pinoy Grocery on Your Google Maps

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If you’re tired of buying local goods in your nearest supermarket, try finding a Filipino grocery nearby. Even the smell of the store will make you feel at home. There will be bottles of whatever you need to flavor the dish you’re trying to recreate from your lola’s recipes, or any snack that will bring you back to the Philippines.

4. Stock Up on Packets of Soup and Packs of Local Chips

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While you’re at it, don’t forget to stock up on those packets that will create instant dishes or soups for a quick fix when you need one. Buy enough Chippy or dried mangoes to last you for weeks—that will be enough to cure your homesickness!

5. When Someone Visits, Beg Them to Bring You Something From Home. (Or Ask Your Loved Ones to Send You a Care Package.)

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If you’re really feeling down in the dumps, a care package every few months is sure to lift your spirits. I never remember being happier than when my mom sent me cans of corned beef and boxes of Quickmelt cheese because my local store didn’t stock it. I made crispy corned beef for breakfast everyday for weeks.

6. Assimilate into Culture and Make Yourself at Home—But Never Forget Your Roots!

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The true way to survive being abroad is to really try and make yourself at home. Make a few connections, try local food, love your adopted home. But never forget where you came from—cook your foreign buddies a palayok of sinigang with rice.

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WorldRemit is the quick, convenient and low-cost way to send money to the Philippines. Visit WorldRemit.com to find out more, or download the app on iOS or Android.

What are you tips for Filipinos living abroad? Build on this list with a comment below!


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Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr. FOLLOW
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Veronica Ester Mendoza
Veronica Ester Mendoza

When I lived in Tibet for 2 years and I was the only expat working there, it was such a comfort to discover that Oishi munchies are available there because it has a factory in Beijing. Of course the flavors had been adapted to the Chinese & Tibetan tastes but at least I get to have plainly salted potato chips. I have not eaten so much potato crisps in my life!

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