Hi Kimberly! Tell us something about yourself, where do you come from and what brought you to Slovakia?
I am a small Filipina girl from the beautiful country of the Philippines. I came to Slovakia because of my husband. He is a Slovak and wants to go back to his homeland. We did live in the Philippines for a while before we decided to move to Slovakia and so far, I have not regretted it. Slovakia is treating me so well and I am enjoying my life here.
When I was in the Philippines, diving was my passion. I love going to the sea and just swimming with a lot of different marine animals. Now I am in Slovakia, it is something I miss a lot.
Is it easy for you to integrate among Slovaks? How do you feel in Slovakia?
Before I came here, it was one of my worries. I have never lived and stayed in a foreign country before and don’t have experience with what it’s like. I worried if I will be able to make friends, will I miss my home a lot, will I struggle with the language.
But everything turned out fine. I found a job, I made friends not just with Slovaks but also other nationalities. It’s a shame that the pandemic happened because I would have spent a lot of time with my friends travelling around Slovakia.
How would you evaluate the attitude of Slovaks towards “otherness?”
We Filipinos, we love welcoming foreigners in our country. We love to make them feel at home. We smile at them and try to offer help whenever we can. So I kinda felt very weird in the beginning when I tried to smile to the locals and they didn’t smile back hahaha.
But then later on, I found out that it is totally normal. Some people say that it may be attributed to the fact that there is not a lot of sun here and in the Philippines we have sun all year-round so we are happy people! Or maybe it is because Slovakia, especially the urban areas, are still not used to foreigners, which I think plays a huge part. But then again. I found out that being friends with Slovaks takes time. Relationships are not built instantly but when they are built, it is strong and long-lasting, at least that is my opinion.
Fortunately for me, I never felt this “otherness” in my Slovak family. I have heard some sad stories of other foreigners that their Slovak families don’t like them very much. However, in my case, I am extremely lucky that my husband’s family is absolutely welcoming. I never felt alone in the country and I am so thankful about it.
Is it difficult to find a job as a foreigner in Slovakia? What are you currently working on?
I am in the Financial Sector of Shared Services Industry. When I looked for a job before, I was surprised how many opportunities there are in the market. I thought it would be difficult given that I am a foreigner and that there will be a language barrier. However, I was proven wrong because I did not have a hard time finding a job actually. And even more lucky because my Slovak colleagues are so nice to me and even speak English so well so I never had a problem.
But I could imagine that it may be hard now both for locals and foreigners because of the pandemic. I know a lot of people lost their job so I am grateful everyday.
Did you come across anything interesting during that time that you would like to share with the readers?
I find it really interesting how Poppy seeds here are so popular for dessert. Because when I hear poppy, I hear opium, I hear addiction hahaha. But here it is a different kind of addiction, I am totally addicted to strudel with poppy seeds!
I know that you decided to learn the Slovak language. Great honor, it must be very challenging. How is it going?
It is very challenging, but to be honest I stopped putting pressure on myself and just enjoy the process of learning a new language. I am in the state where if I listen to Slovaks talking, I can grasp the context of the conversation a little but still won’t be able to converse so well. I can speak short and basic phrases in Slovak with my husband which makes me really proud. So far, I continue learning it. In the near future, I plan to take a Slovak language course to learn the basic grammar and be able to converse properly. I am excited for it.
How do you perceive life in Slovakia compared to life in the Philippines?
I love my life in Slovakia. To be honest, I also didn’t have a hard life in the Philippines. I was in the middle range. I have a job and don’t get hungry and totally content with my life. However, I would say that our life in Slovakia right now is much more convenient. We earn just enough to buy what we need, if without the pandemic, maybe we will be able to travel around Slovakia too.
Also, I like living in Bratislava, I think it is a very clean city and access to a variety of food is very easy. Transportation is efficient, and I love that there are parks full of trees everywhere that I can go for a walk or run or just if I want to have some fresh air. These small things I appreciate a lot because I don’t get this in Manila.
I hope more Slovaks will appreciate these small things because really, Bratislava is a beautiful city and Slovakia is an amazing country.