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OFW Top Tips to Survive and Thrive in the UK

By Charwin Belisario

    Living your life thousands of miles away from home, abroad or overseas is never easy. Whatever you call it, there’s the constant uneasy feeling creeping at the back of your mind—like that childhood fear of the monster under your bed—ever present, lurking and waiting for that chance to devour you ever so slowly.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way.  In this article, I will talk about some ways to deal with homesickness. Included here are things that you can do to somewhat lessen your longing for home and keeping yourself sane while taking care of others in your workplace.

1.  Keep the mind busy. 

    An idle mind is the devil’s playground. Keep yourself productive. If you’re new in the UK and scheduled to take the OSCE, immerse yourself to practicing and reviewing for the exam.

At this point, you’re probably still working as a Band 4 (pre-registered nurse or whatever title your employer has given you). You can take this opportunity to absorb everything in your workplace. Learn the skills, the people, the culture, the language and for some, the accent (just don’t force it though)!

    For those who are already registered, on the other hand, you can take extra shifts but make sure to leave some time for rest. There’s no better way to burn yourself out than spending too much time taking care of others without looking after yourself.

You can also enrol yourself to study days or courses that your employer offers you. Apart from learning new things, it will also add up to your CPD points! Isn't it a win-win?

2. Find a hobby.

It does not necessarily have to be a ‘productive’ one. Maybe it is an online game you haven’t tried before or perhaps reading books? Ideally, something that can boost your happy hormones—or neurotransmitters—let’s not get too technical about it, shall we? 

Haven’t been to the gym before? You may want to consider going. Do something new. You’ve already allowed yourself to live in a new country, what’s stopping you from finding new things to do in a completely new environment?

3. Find your local Filipino Community.

     Whether in the workplace, church, or social media, there are a lot of Filipinos in the UK. Facebook is a good place to start. Me and my wife started looking for Filipino Nurse Communities in the UK even before we flew to the country—and there are lots! I’d be surprised if you can’t find one that suits you. Furthermore, the best thing about social media is that you can interact virtually. So even if you say you’re an introvert, you can still be a part of a community and remain an introvert!

      Your local church is always a good place to find Filipinos BECAUSE…do I still have to tell you why? Then there’s your workplace…if there’s a good number of Filipinos in your place of work, there will almost definitely be a planned Christmas Party, nights out, or dinner/barbecue in someone’s place. Find these and you’ll be a part of a Filipino community in no time!

4. Pay it forward. 

    Reach out to other nurses who have yet to receive their pins or to those who are just about to start their application. Part of the reason why you are homesick is because the UK is not your community; the British people is not your community—not yet, at least. If you want to build one, this is a good way to start.

   So how do you do this? I mentioned earlier about joining communities on social media. If you haven’t seen them yet, some of them are communities of nurses applying for or are new to the UK.

   Find them and communicate with the people by answering some of their questions. Having someone say “thank you” to you can be very therapeutic. Besides, it’s good to pay it forward. I’m pretty sure there’s someone out there who has, in one way or another, helped you lift your spirits up or guided you to the right direction when you were still applying. 

5. Explore.

If this is your first time abroad, chances are, lots of things in the UK will be new to you. Even if it’s not your first time in a foreign country, the UK is unique! Explore different places in the UK and adore the beauty of its landscapes or its popular attractions.

Experiencing an entirely different environment gives you the excitement and new perspective. Absorb it. Let it sink in. Stop ruminating about being back home but think of the stories you will tell your parents, siblings, other relatives, neighbors and friends when you go back! These will also be the memories you will keep when you grow old and tell your children or grandchildren one day.

Leaving home takes a special kind of resilience and determination to  thrive in a land and culture completely dissimilar to what you’ve known your whole life. You need to proactively find ways to reduce your homesickness. Otherwise, all your efforts, money and time may only go to waste.

About the Writer:

Charwin Belisario is a nurse at the University Hospital of Southampton. He also creates and manages his own You Tube Channel where he talks about his life and experiences as a UK Nurse- Charwin Belisario

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Very nice!

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