I was going through Instagram when a post by Melanie of @pickbykm caught my attention. In her Instagram post, she gave notes to non-muslims on how to show respect to our Muslim brothers and sisters during their holy month of Ramadan.
I knew immediately that she has a great story to tell. I sent Melanie a message to ask if she’s up for a collaboration. I’m glad she replied right away! She actually hesitated to tell her story because she came in Qatar with her family, unlike most OFWs. However, she eventually shared her story, and now, I am enthused to share with you.
Melanie currently works as full time HR and a freelance blogger (@pickbykm). She has also recently released her eyelashes line – Pick by KM Lashes! Her OFW journey started early, as she was only 23 when she was brought by her sister in Qatar. Happily married for 7 years, she supports her husband as he establishes his business in Qatar as well.
Many might say that she’s lucky that she didn’t have to work as hard to go abroad. But as you read through her story, she has earned her place. She has her share of struggles, and she was able to overcome each of them gracefully.
I too started working overseas early, so can sort of relate to her. I can attest that it is not easy. Having Melanie’s mindset and attitude will surely aid you to “surviving” abroad in such an early age. She didn’t hold back on sharing her experience on this post.
Her tips and advices in this interview are super note worthy. I am already in the age where I am considering marriage and having an insight on how it is like to be married abroad is really helpful. It is really inspiring to learn stories of people who managed to make a name for themselves like Melanie and her husband. It is already challenging to establish a company in the Philippines, what more abroad. So, hands down to both of them.
This post is a good read specially to those who are interested to working in the Middle East. Melanie mentioned how to efficiently integrate oneself in a Muslim country. She also gave an overall view on the lifestyle one is expecting when working in Qatar.
I will not keep you any longer. Everyone, meet Melanie, our Kabayan in Qatar.
My name is Melanie, happily married for almost 7 years now without kids. I love making videos, sharing content and I am a very talkative person. 😅
I am working full time as a Human Resources at a consulting engineering company for 7 years. I am also a freelance blogger here in Qatar and recently launched my eyelashes line please follow Pick by KM Lashes. 😂
My sister bought me here in Qatar way back in 2010. My father, 2 brothers, and one sister are here and I was a fresh college graduate during that time. I tried to look for a job but I was not able to get one that is in line with my college degree so my father told me to go back to the Philippines and earn experience. So I went back in 2013 and before I came, I already have a job which is a secretary in a refinery company. I stayed there for 3 months only because they can’t give me a working visa. Luckily, I was able to look for another job and that’s the company I am working for right now.
LET’S TALK ABOUT QATAR
Moving to Qatar at the age of 23, how did your OFW journey start? Would you mind sharing your secrets to “surviving” at that early age?
I am a very competitive person, I always want to grow, learn more, and experience more things. Competitive not in a sense that you compete with other people but to the point that you strive to be better and push your self. Being an OFW is not easy most especially if you’re alone but whatever situation you’re in always remember the reason why you’re here. Plus, never ever think of giving up instead invite the positivity in life and just be happy and grateful with what you have. Always think about the positive side of everything.
What is your favorite experience in Qatar?
It is not only my favorite experience, but the best memory here in Qatar is when I got married.
You’ve mentioned that you were with your family when you moved to Qatar. Would you mind sharing how you adjusted to the new environment?
For me, it was not difficult to adjust because I am with my family though my husband and I are always independent as much as possible we wanted to learn and experience stuff on our own but of course, if there are times that we can’t handle I am sure they are always there to support.
In addition, there are a lot of Filipinos here in Qatar. It feels like you’re in the Philippines but I think the small adjustment only is the language barrier when you encounter non-Filipinos but that is just minimal.
OVERVIEW OF WORKING ABROAD
What’s the biggest hurdle you faced while working abroad? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was when my husband and I are just starting here in Qatar. Honestly, we are struggling with our finances before the funny things is when you say someone is working abroad, automatically they will think that we are earning a lot of money but that is untrue.
It was really hard at first and not all OFW have a high salaries. Some are lucky to have a high compensation but some are not. I remember we walk everyday going to our office and coming home in our apartment because 10 Riyals is a very important amount for us. We can already buy our food for that.
We are also renting a tiny partition worth 1500 Riyals that is around 19,500 pesos. We only have a single bed, 2 sets of utensils and we even borrow cooking ware from our flat mates.
My husband is a very determined man even if we didn’t have much in the beginning, he look for other means to have extra income. Because sometimes if you’re working abroad, your salary is not enough so we need to have extra jobs.
With his determination and perseverance after 8 years and of course with my support 😂, he put up his own company with the help of our good friend who trusted his abilities. They just opened the BL (Bustamante-Laud) International Trading and Contracting. Inshallah everything will run smoothly as planned.
Have you ever felt discriminated against or harassed for being a foreigner? If so, how did you deal with it?
Good thing I was not discriminated. A funny story is, I have big eyes so most of the non-Filipinos mistakenly thought that I am an Arab. 😅 There are times that when I was in the mall, some sales person talks to me in English or Arabic.
Also regarding the harassment, I always promote the proper dress code here in Qatar which is a Muslim country where you should dress appropriately, so harassment is never an issue to me. Plus all the people I encountered here in Qatar are nice. They all love Filipinos.
MARRIED LIFE ABROAD
Being a couple abroad, what is your secret to maintaining a healthy relationship?
Being married for 7 years, I thank God because we never had a major problem. Even if we struggled financially before we never fought about it instead we always lift and support each other. We both adjust on what we have and I never demand on my partner. We never compare our lives to others.
There is no perfect marriage but I must say that to have a healthy relationship is to respect each other differences.
I also promote woman empowerment, so as a wife, you still need to leave something for yourself at least worst comes to worst, you can still get up with your high heels on!
Couples just need to focus on their goals, be contented, and keep themselves away from any temptation and you know what I mean about that. 😅
LIFE OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
What was your inspiration for creating Pick by KM? What are you trying to achieve through it?
At first, I just want to share our lives abroad with my friends and since I love taking videos and pictures, eventually I decided to start my social media accounts. my inspiration is to help our Kababayans here in Qatar by simply sharing information with them most especially those who have struggles in understanding the government processes.
I am not trying to achieve something, the number of my followers is just a bonus, I think I just want to help other people by giving the right answer to their inquiries and that will already be an achievement for me.
How are you balancing your time between working and managing your personal blog? Would you mind sharing some time management hacks?
First, if you love what you’re doing there is always a time for it and you never get tired if you’re happy working on something. Yes, there are times that you’re pressured but I believe that all your hard work pays off.
Time Management hacks? I plan everything. I have a monthly plan for all my posts, once a month I write down everything and I already schedule my posting. So sometimes, even if I am busy with my full-time job, I already have scheduled posts and Facebook will just publish them on its own.
What’s your greatest achievement so far? Do you consider yourself successful?
Sometimes I prefer working in silence rather than sharing about what I achieved because at the end of the day it is the fulfillment and happiness that you feel when you accomplished something. But to answer your question, I think I am successful because I am happy with what I have right now. 🤗
TO ALL OFWs AND ASPIRANTS
A lot of Filipinos opt to work in the Middle East. Being an OFW in Qatar, what advice can you give aspirants so they could integrate themselves well into the Muslim culture?
I think, some of Filipinos opt to work in the Middle East because of the news or movies that they are watching. When I first came here to Qatar I already fell in love with this country. I love how they govern this country, I love their culture and I love how they welcome expats. By the way, Qatar is the 3rd safest country in the world so I think there is nothing to worry about.
What’s a piece of advice or something that was said to you by someone that will stick with you forever?
The best advice that was said to me and I want to share to those who are reading this content is, “Never put your money above your head because it will bring you down but instead put it under your feet so it will lift you high”
It was a very good quotation, right? You can take this literally, if you put something in your head there is a possibility that you can’t go up because it is heavy same thing us the term wag lalaki ang ulo, because if you’re boastful there is a tendency that you will not be successful and you will not go up. While the term, if you put your money under your feet, you can go up same thing as paa sa lupa. We should always be low-key and humble with what we achieved.
What’s your advice to all OFWs and aspiring OFWs?
If you’re an OFW or aspiring OFWs just do your best, be contented with what you have and all your hard works will eventually payoffs.
Always remember this, if you’re going to do something, you never lose it’s either you learn from your experience or you become successful so ma ka- OFW lavarn lng ng lavarn! 🥰
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Thanks for reading!