By Les Fiestan, KSA
 
Homesickness & depression are very common among OFW’s. Living in the Middle East can be even harder if you don’t know how to handle the occasional bouts with loneliness. It certainly doesn’t help that restrictions on recreational activities abound in this region. Some ME countries have clubs, theaters, public beaches and all sorts of establishment where one could pass the time freely. The case is a little different here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One’s leisure time is always spent in malls, restaurants, parks, and museums. Unmarried couples couldn’t hang out in public, and mixed gatherings are almost always frowned upon unless you are in a private residential building or a rented villa we commonly refer to as “esteraha.”

If you are used to the openness of Manila culture, battling loneliness and depression can be a tough challenge here. However, there are ways to fight it – sensible ways; ways that do not involve getting yourself in debt or other sorts of trouble. These are some of the solutions that I recommend.

  1. Hangout with friends – Gather up friends or even co-workers and have a good conversation. Watch movies. Play games. Eat in a nice restaurant. Have a strong support system of like-minded colleagues.
  1. Meet new friends – Internations.org is a worldwide organization for expatriates. They have meet-ups and organize gatherings & fun activities for members.
  1. Get a pet – Having a pet is a stress reliever. If you can’t afford to buy one, then adoption is a great option. If you know anyone in Riyadh who wants to own a pet, point them to OpenPaws.org.
  1. Get physical – Exercise is known to be good anti-depressant. You don’t have to join a gym if it’s out of your budget. There are plenty of free resources online that you can learn from.
  1. Take a short vacation – Go to a different city or even country, do your research and look for promotional tickets.  Taking a break from your usual environment makes you more productive when you get back to work.
  1. Learn/ Develop your hobby – Find that one thing that you are most passionate about and work on it religiously on your free time.  
  1. Join a club – There are several clubs around catering to your needs, passions & interests. Some are for women only but most are mixed. Ask around particularly from those who have lived in the country for long. They would know or at least point you to someone who can.
  1. Study– Education is a never-ending process. Enhance your computer skills by taking up a few short courses. Comsofil (Computer Society of Filipinos) is a Filipino organization that conducts Technological & Electronic-related classes for OFW’s since 1995. Lessons are conducted at Philippine Schools.

We Filipinos are known for our ability to adapt quickly to our environment. Most of us will succeed at this, but there will always be those who simply cannot cope with the changes and end up going back home. Well, to each his own. But for those who have decided to stay but are still having trouble adjusting, please find a way to get help before deciding on anything drastic. Reflect and reach out to someone. I find that the easiest way to cope is to talk to a trusted friend. Do not underestimate the power of prayers. Be strong.

Follow Les – http://lesfiestan.daportfolio.com/

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