In my last real update in 2016, I finished halfway through the year. Afterwards, the 2nd half hit me like a bullet train and I got caught in the maelstrom of OFW life.
Why leave the Philippines at all? I was living a comfortable life in Manila in a nice neighborhood. I had a good job that I enjoy and provides for me sufficiently. I have proper work-life balance. I have Jollibee and Max’s and Mary Grace and Yabu.
My March trip to Budapest left such a big impact on me that I really wanted to go and live in Budapest. By nature, I am an explorer and I crave adventure. I realized life is too short to live in just one country.
Well, Gábor had been instrumental in making my dream come true. He translated my CV to Hungarian and sent me several headhunter sites to upload my CV to. In June, I received a notification of interest from one headhunter, and from there, they facilitated my online interviews and exams. I ended up with a nice job offer from an investment bank. The whole visa and working permit process started right away. All my official documents had to be sent to Hungary to be translated to Hungarian, then sent to the Hungarian embassy in Jakarta (there was no embassy in Manila then). I myself had to go to Jakarta for the final arrangements – the company paid for all my expenses, including a 5-star hotel stay. From start to finish, it took nearly 5 months, including the Philippine red tape that usually comes with an OFW job.
In November, I found myself on a plane to Budapest, with my life in 2 suitcases. Gábor and Dani picked me up from the airport to bring me to my temporary flat (the company rented a nice place for one month) and to have my first dinner in my new Hungarian life.
I started my new job days after arrival in Budapest, with my body clock still on Manila time. It was tough. My job required major adjustments on my part. Despite working in a similar role before, I needed to learn new products and markets. In Manila, I’ve worked in multinational companies, but now I am surrounded by more languages, nationalities and cultures. Now I am part of the minority.
It was also the first winter of my life, and unfortunately, I could not deal with it well. Seeing snow for the first time was great, but the feeling didn’t last long. Soon I was feeling sad and miserable. I hated seeing all white and gray and mud. To add to my misery, the heating in my second flat failed twice. I actually thought I would die in my sleep from the cold. I also fell in love with pálinka, which I found to be very effective in heating me up from the inside A couple of times, I also smoked cigarettes. I detest smoking, but again, I needed to feel heat. But I’ve never picked up a cigarette after that! Never again.
I am sorry for all the things I did and said while it was winter!
My general misery didn’t last long and eventually, I finally settled in to my Budapest life. I really enjoy going around Hungary and other countries. It is very convenient because I can go to another country without hopping on a plane.
All in all, I can say I am having the time of my life here!
To be continued in Part 2…
(Note: for more pictures of my adventures, please visit me on Instagram @a_cupful_of_catalina)