I am a Travel/Mommy blogger over at www.travelvan.com I have adventures with my almost 4 year old baby girl aroind the tropical islands of the Philippines.
Where are you from, Van, and what are you doing nowadays?
I am from California USA. I moved to Cebu, Philippines to study nursing.
Why did you choose to expatriate to the Philippines?
Nursing studies are a lot cheaper in the Philippines and it is easier to get in. If I stayed in California for nursing, my student loans would be so rocking high.
As a US national, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
Actually, I applied for Dual Citizenship because it would have been a lot easier. If I got a student visa or just used my American Citizenship, I would have had to go back to America every year and that would already cost a lot. Round trip tickets to California and Philippines are expensive.
How long have you been in the country?
Four and a half years.
What has attracted you to Cebu?
The school which I was supposed to attend is found in Cebu. My cousin graduated from that school and told me it was a great school. So this is why I chose to be there.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
Poverty. Philippines is a 3rd world country. You will see poverty all around you: children begging on the street, a blind man who can play the guitar asking for a little change, an old lady knocking on the car windows asking for food, and a lot more.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available there?
I stayed at my school's dorm, so it wasn't difficult at all. There are places for rent: hotels, motels, pension houses, resorts, etc. Philippines is crawling of tourists, so there are accommodations everywhere.
What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?
There are many call centers which are always hiring. If you a good command of English, you will get in right away. I have a lot of friends from the United Stated who are part-time call center agents.
How do you find the Philippine lifestyle?
Philippines has a laid back happy lifestyle. You can always go to the beach if you need a breath of fresh air. It's literally just 45 minutes away.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
Yes. It wasn't that hard to adapt to it. I am also Filipino, so it wasn't hard for me to fit in right away.
What does your every day life look like in Cebu?
School, beach, eat, island hopping, rest and repeat.
Any particular experience in the country you would like to share with us?
I went to Siargao last year and it was the best trip I have ever had in the Philippines.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Cebu? Is it easy for an expat to live there?
It all depends in your lifestyle. Yes, it is easy and people here are very welcoming.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I go to the mall, to the beach , have dinner out, party sometimes and blog.
What do you like the most about the country?
The people. People are always happy here, no matter the circumstances.
Your favorite local dishes?
Adobo, Dinuguan and Karekare are at the top of my list.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
I miss my family and the super fast Internet.
What has motivated you to write your blog "Travelvan"? How does it help?
I wanted to actually create a diary for my adventures with my daughter. That's why I made a blog. Later on in life, when my daughter and I get old, we can look back at all the fun things that we did together.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in the Philippines?
Don't bring large amounts of money in your wallet or really important documents when you are going to the slums. Pickpockets are everywhere. You can never be too safe, so leave them at home in a safe.
What are your plans for the future?
Since I just graduated for my Bachelors of Science in Nursing, I will go back to California to take my NCLEX and probably move to Texas.