How a Filipino developer found her way to a new job in Estonia (by way of India)
Visa adventures, zebra crossings and “no sweat” weather
Software developer Minez Villa Bombeo left the Philippines, the land of the year-round summer, to arrive in Estonia just as its short-lived summer ended. On her way to work, she discovered that she could commute without sweating, as the cool wind greeted her on the streets of Tallinn.
Currently testing software for FOB Solutions, she shares some of her thoughts on working overseas in Europe.
What appealed to you about living and working in Estonia?
The experience. It was a huge risk because I retracted all active applications when I had my final interview with my present employer. 😀 I wanted to go back to my field after an 11-month hiatus (I was working in a financial institution in the country) then I saw this Facebook ad around April and found myself filling up the forms.
Can you tell us briefly about what the visa process was like?
Since we do not have an Estonian embassy in the Philippines, I flew to India to pick up my visa and stayed there for 3 days. Quite an exciting adventure because I flew from 5 different airports in a span of 4 days. But of course, everything was well-planned before my departure. Ideas beyond borders are now possible because of the technology.
What did you do to prepare for the move?
I spent time with my loved ones the best possible way. I also organized a get-together with my friends doing our normal stuff like dinner, hanging out, and videoke. I also spent time doing an unintentional ‘extended’ overnight sleep with my friends. But the most important thing is, I strengthened my faith and I seek God. He is the source of my strength, my peace of mind and my sense of security.
What are some benefits of working with a cross-cultural team?
Working with a cross-cultural team makes me appreciate humanity more because we are working towards one goal. We are not confined to so-called labels. I get to learn a lot more than one culture. It also makes me aware of my surroundings and enhances my skills in dealing with people from different walks of life. We may have different traditions, cultures, beliefs, and philosophies but we still find similarities that make us enjoy the companionship.
Working with a cross-cultural team makes me appreciate humanity more because we are working towards one goal. We are not confined to so-called labels.
Did you notice any differences between work culture in Estonia vs the Philippines?
Not much with the work culture. It’s more on how we start our work day in the Philippines. Filipinos like small talks that end up with group dates to discuss and plan things ahead. We tend to do things together, like buying and eating our lunch. No one is left behind, not unless there’s an urgent issue. In some cases, we stay in the office a little late just to make fun of each other and to simply kill time. We really like eating snacks while working and sharing with the rest of the group.
In general, both are efficient and output-oriented. I find the work culture and ambience pretty similar so it’s not really hard for me to adjust. I also discovered that Estonians are not cold people, as per the internet. They’re really friendly, a little dancing and partying will do the trick. 😀
Do you think living abroad is beneficial for your career or personal growth?
Indeed. I am currently learning new skills and approaches with my work which is quite different from my experience in the Philippines. This is also beneficial for my communication skills because I need to speak English every single day. And since we practice work-life balance, I plan to spend my time doing other worthwhile activities.
What is your favorite thing about living in Estonia?
The weather. I enjoy the cold breeze and the warmth of the sun in my face. I get to exercise because I just walk from my flat to my office without even sweating.
I salute those drivers who have so much respect for the zebra crossing.
What is the hardest thing about living in Estonia?
The weather too, because it is always summer in the Philippines. Yes, I miss my friends and my loved ones but I don’t dwell on that much. I really believe that we have to choose and control our emotions to uplift our spirit. We owe it to ourselves. In Filipino: ‘Happy lang, walang sad.’
Finally, what advice would you give to someone considering a jobbatical?
You have to weigh what rules you, your goal or your fear?
I also have these questions with me to make things easier.
1. If not now, then when?
2. If not here, then where?
So, jump in the water. Take a chance and don’t live by the ‘What if’s.’ Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?