Before I left for Mexico, I had the wonderful opportunity  to share my experience with Project Rolling Stones, an outlet for living abroad issues.

There are a lot of interesting articles and interviews. Here’s some of what I shared on the interview:

Tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Ellis Tan from Manila, a resident of the U.S. and a global citizen. I’m currently on an internship (public relations) with Améredia, a multicultural advertising and communications agency in San Francisco. I like stepping on dead leaves and believe that conversations make the world go ‘round.

What brought you to the USA? How did you decide to move here?

It has always been just a mere possibility to me. It was an idea that was always talked about since I was young because my parents’ families live there. My aunt (my dad’s sister) filed a visa petition for him even before I was born. Part of the “privilege” of the petition was that he could bring all his children under the age of 21. It took a while–more than two decades of my life–before we were called for an interview. I almost didn’t prepare for it until the interview date, which was a few weeks before my college graduation! Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting it. It was surreal—I didn’t even tell my friends until days before my flight. I didn’t really decide to move, I just knew I was in for the challenge!

As a young professional, how did you adapt to the differences? What were the biggest challenges?

I would always get “Wow, you speak good English!” quips from people—family and workmates alike. It was to my advantage that English is the second language of the Philippines. Language will help a lot when you move to a different place. Semantics is a different story.

Also, one of the hardest challenges is being questioned about your purpose. While it is no secret that a lot of Filipinos travel abroad in search of a better economic life, a lot of Filipinos also view this in a bad light—being greedy, not giving back to the country, etc. I once got into a semi-heated debate about this on my alma mater’s LinkedIn group. Ah, (exclusive) nationalism can be tricky. It is equally sad when I hear people who have been here for a long time say,“There’s nothing to do in the Philippines.” There is always something to do anywhere, folks.

Corporate America is notorious for the lack of work/life balance, which is a challenge for some foreigners who are not used to checking their email inboxes on the weekend. What’s your experience? Does work/life balance exist in the USA?

America has a reputation for making people work, work, work. (Sans the growing homecare industry?) As ideal as it may sound, this still depends on the person’s priorities!

What advice would you give to someone who is about to move to a foreign country for either education, career or family reasons?

Weigh it out.  I would say move. Be open to change. Staying is another thing. But don’t say “no” if you haven’t tried. You will need to belong as you’ll find yourself to be the minority upon moving, but it will open you to a lot of different perspectives. If you know you are moving to another place, savor every moment left in your home country—you’ll never know when you’re coming back. The plus side to this is you will know who your real friends are and you will come out of the experience as a stronger person (hopefully better too). Living in San Francisco has led me to meet different people from all over the world.

To travel is to live. So go.


You can read everything here.😉 Let me know what your thoughts are!

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