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  • bedandgoinc

My first week abroad. Navigating the Philippines and my first day at the office.



1. Introduction


I'm Tim Diepmaat, and I'm a 22-year-old from the Netherlands. Home for me is a quaint little town called Losser, nestled in the eastern part of the country. Currently, I'm pursuing a degree in international business at Saxion University, located in Enschede.


Before embarking on this internship journey, I've had a few interesting adventures. I spent some time in Poland, where I did an internship at Wavin. Then, I headed over to Seoul, South Korea, to pursue a master's degree at Dongguk University. And just last semester, I was back in the Netherlands, doing an internship at NTP, a local construction company.


This internship here in Manila is set to be a five-month adventure, and if all goes well, it'll be the final stretch towards earning my bachelor's degree. My role here involves diving into day-to-day activities, and for my university program, I'll be working on a business case centered around a marketing research plan.


You might be wondering why I chose Manila as the destination for my final assignment. Well, it all goes back to December 2022 when I had the chance to travel to Cebu and experience the Filipino culture firsthand. Initially, I hadn't planned on returning to the Philippines, but after some contemplation, I decided to embrace the challenge of moving to a country that's vastly different from the Netherlands in every aspect. It's all about pushing my boundaries and immersing myself in a new and enriching cultural experience.


2. Arrival in the Philippines


On a sunny Sunday morning, the 10th of September, the moment had come to make my move to Manila. The day before, I had the emotional task of saying goodbye to my friends and family, knowing it might be a while before I'd see them again. As the Sunday sun rose, I still had to tackle the daunting job of packing my suitcase. Thankfully, given Manila's consistent high temperatures, choosing my attire wasn't too much of a puzzle – it was all about lightweight and comfortable clothing.


Around 4 pm, my family (my parents and my younger sister) and I hit the road for the two-hour drive to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The car ride was a mix of excitement and sadness, as I contemplated the adventure ahead while grappling with the heartache of leaving loved ones behind. Once at the airport, I joined the queue at the Etihad Airlines counter to check in my luggage. Saying goodbye to my family was tough; those moments at the departure gate are always laden with emotion.


The journey to Manila was no cakewalk – two lengthy flights, one lasting 6 hours and the other a whopping 9 hours, with an almost endless 3-hour layover in Abu Dhabi. The hours dragged on as I gazed out of the window, pondering the experiences that lay ahead.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity of travel, I touched down in Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Exhausted but exhilarated, I was greeted and taken to my new apartment in the lively neighborhood of Makati, where I could finally catch my breath and prepare for the adventures that awaited in this vibrant city.


3. Settling in during the first week

I had the luxury of a week between my arrival and the commencement of my internship, and I used that time to ease into my new surroundings and explore the area. This wasn't my first rodeo living abroad; it was my third stint, so I had some idea of what to expect. One thing I had smartly sorted out back in the Netherlands was an eSim, ensuring I could always find my way around this new city.


Despite my apartment being spanking new, there were still a bunch of things I needed to buy to make it feel like home. Fortunately, there were plenty of stores within a stone's throw of my apartment building, making it a breeze to grab all the essentials I needed.


Now, the trickiest part to navigate in those early days was the jetlag. With a whopping 6-hour time difference between the Netherlands and the Philippines, my body clock was all sorts of confused. Traveling eastward always messes with your sleep schedule. When it's 2 am in Manila, my body thought it was just 8 pm. The struggle to fall asleep in the evenings was real.


But, amidst the jetlag haze, Makati welcomed me with open arms. Its skyline, adorned with towering skyscrapers, painted a picture of rapid development. My first impression of Makati was one of dynamic urban energy, a place where tradition and modernity walked hand in hand. As I settled into my apartment, I couldn't help but admire the fusion of contemporary design and Filipino aesthetics that made the space uniquely charming.


Makati wasn't just a location; it was a living, breathing community. The streets pulsated with the daily hustle and bustle of people, and the enticing aroma of street food filled the air. From the moment I stepped into Makati, I felt like I had discovered a second home, a place where I could truly belong.


4. The first day at the office


The first day on a new job or internship is always a bit nerve-wracking. Stepping into an unfamiliar environment and meeting new faces can be both exciting and anxiety-inducing. Today was no exception. I was picked up from my apartment, my heart doing a little tap dance of anticipation, as I made my way to the office.


Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted by the HR team, who then ushered me into the elevator that would whisk us up to the 5th floor, where the office was nestled. As the elevator doors opened, I was introduced to my new team and was able to take in my surroundings – my new workplace for the next few months.

The first day on the job was certainly a memorable one. I found myself tagging along with the marketing team to photograph apartments in the vibrant district of Makati. It was a first for me, capturing those formal photos and videos, and I couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement mingled with a dash of jitters.


And then there was lunch. As a Dutchman, I was used to the routine of bringing my own lunch from home. However, here in this new setting, it was a delightful departure from the norm. Almost everyone in the office opted for street food, creating a communal and social atmosphere as we gathered together to enjoy our meals back at the office. It was a small but significant shift from what I was accustomed to, reflecting the unique cultural blend that awaited me in my new workplace.

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