Sunday, February 28, 2016

Adjustment Pains, As I May Call It

I have been in Sweden for 2 years, 5 months, 4 days... according to the date calculator. It has been that yet I'm still adjusting. Struggling to integrate, struggling to adjust to the lifestyle, trying to find my space and my pace.

See, I wasn't emotionally prepared when I had to leave Philippines. At that time, I was in a team where everything was just going perfect for us. Great team members, great bosses, and even I was in a great position. And, at home, I had two househelp to help me with my 2 kids and household management. The only thing missing was Efren. The distance mattered, but for me, that  gap was filled up with friends and family.

I didn't really had any reason to leave until Efren was rushed to the hospital. He has been suffering from vertigo but it got frequent when he arrived in Sweden. He was miserable because he missed home so much and I guess, it was really tough for him since Zach was only 2 months old when he left abroad.

And so here I was... Cold, strange Sweden.

I have been to Sweden twice before but it was only for short trips, 2 1/2 months at most. Our counterpart who was mostly working with us at that time was boisterous and lively and happy and laughed out loud often... You know, an extrovert. So somehow, I got that sense, ah I wouldn't have problems fitting into this place.

But there's always that saying... "Assume makes an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'".

I was all bubbly and full of passion... Basically, loud and opinionated, challenging people when I think otherwise. Typical me at a workplace. Well, it was just a time bomb waiting to happen. Soon, you'd read an email saying it's not allowed to discuss things at the desks because it will disrupt other people from their work, go book a conference room! And, something like, having a feedback template - what and what not to say when giving a feedback, because you don't know what the person is going through. Using an 'I' perspective because you only represent yourself and not the whole team. What?!

And from then on, everything was a struggle at the workplace.

The one thing that took me so long to realize is that a lot of people I have to interact with are introverts and that character is molded into the society. It's same with Filipinos. Because we are mostly extroverts, we tend to be warm and friendly and noisy and laughs at every opportunity we find.

That's what really made me homesick. I miss laughing. I miss being opinionated. I miss challenging opinions of others. Basically, I miss being who I am.

Don't get me wrong. There is a Filipino community here in the city. They are very supportive and they are so Filipino. We developed good relationships with some families and they have been really a blessing. Unfortunately, I don't get to see them often. Once a month is already a handful.

I guess what's more sad is that, I spend nearly most of my day with these colleagues, yet, they can't be bothered to have a personal relationship with you. Everything is just business. Then you'd miss having Filipino colleagues because you'll always find someone to be good friends with, even when outside office premises.

Life in Sweden is hard, especially if you're not used to doing things on your own. When I was young, I told myself I'll work hard to earn good money so I can have help at home. Ah, but that was third world thinking.

My daily routine goes like...
6 AM - cook breakfast
8 AM - Efren and I bring the kids to school
9 AM - arrive at work
4 PM - leave office
5 PM - fetch kids
5:30 PM - 8PM - cook dinner, do some cleaning (dishes, etc) and more often than not do work in between because I left some important task when I had to leave office early
8 PM - 9 PM - put kids to bed
9 PM - work
~12MN or 1PM - sleep

and on weekends, our days are just filled with the daily routine + laundry + clean house + groceries. On special occasions, try to take the kids out for something special, like going to the library.

I miss the days when after work, I can meet up with friends or have a date with Manong, just so I can unwind. Or else, jog or go badminton, leting those endorphins come out!

It's not easy.

While coming from the TFCCL Valentine's Party earlier, I came to realize I need to embrace what I have here. I have been feeling so down the past few weeks. I think, this by far, has been the most roller-coaster ride I have ever been. And I'm now at that point where my faith is being tested. I have been trying to listen to God and have been shouting out loud to lift me up. Yet somehow, I feel there was just silence.

I'm at that point where I ask myself how am I to give something back when I have depleted resources within me? But when I think of my family, Efren and the kids, I just couldn't bear to give up. I have to fight. And more importantly, find my way out of this pit. By God's grace, I am going to get through this!

Yup, it has been 2 years, 5 months, 4 days as the time calculator has said. That should be enough to adjust, I hope. Embrace what I have. Integrate. Grow to be a better person, completely leaning on to God. These are my adjustment pains and I have been longing to say goodbye to them. But I guess, it doesn't come easy eh?