When I announced to my friends and family that I was moving to the Philippines, with the littles, they thought I was absolutely insane. You’re going where? You’re doing what? A family member called my mother and suggested that she was the only one that could talk some sense into me; she had to do something.
Mid-summer of 2009 I was getting ready to take a vacation with my friend from Ohio. We were heading up to Maine for a week with the kids. In the midst of that, my (now ex) husband and I were trying to figure out how I was going to finish my BSN. It was getting to the point in the program where I wasn’t really going to be able to work because of the clinical hours, and with two infants that needed day care, we weren’t going to be able to support the family on his salary.
His two brothers were already in the Philippines; one of them was studying nursing. “It’s too bad you couldn’t just go to the Philippines,” he said to me one night while we were lying in bed. “Where were you with that idea four years ago,” I asked him. It started from there. I confessed to him that I had actually toyed with the idea of sending the girls to stay with his mother, in West Africa, while I finished the last 18 months of school. We talked about it more and more and eventually all the talking evolved into a plan.
Why did I think this was such a great idea you ask? Well….
We estimated it would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $30,000 (tuition only) to finish the BSN here in the US; in the Philippines, we were looking at roughly $100o per semester, or $3000.
We made plans for my mother-in-law to move to the Philippines and take care of the girls while I was in school. This was good for a lot of reasons. If not for this, it was unknown if/when she would be able to meet the girls. Lucy was already two and a half, and The Baby was soon to be 18 months. Not only would they meet her, but living with her, they would actually get to know her. At that time were were paying roughly $800/month for day care, and now day care would not be an issue.
The littles and I would also be living with his brothers and sister, so we would all really get a chance to know each other.
The stories my brother-in-law had from clinical gave me the idea that the hands-on clinical experience was not something I would ever have here. In the Philippines (depending on your school and the hospital/doctor you have duty at) it is not unusual for a student nurse to deliver a baby. Here in the U.S. student nurses stand back and observe, and might be considered lucky if they assist with the immediate newborn care.
The combination of my brothers-in-law already being there, and the cost of living being so low in the Philippines, it would not be much ‘extra’ for the littles and I to stay there, expense wise,
I imagined that the cultural experience would be amazing. The Manchild at that time was twelve years old, and though he dragged his feet most of the way, and complained most of the 18 months that we lived there, I know that someday he will reflect back on those times and be grateful. Even though today I am still reminded of how challenging that time was in my life, I know that it changed me forever, and I believe it was for the better.
Not much of anything worked out the way we had expected it to, and there were daily challenges. Sometimes friends or family will ask me if it was really worth it (the financial aspect) and I am quick to say no, because there were so many extra expenses related to the ‘project’ that we hadn’t anticipated, but when I really think about it, I can’t say with 100% certainty that it wasn’t still less costly than it would have been here. I am still facing daily challenges in waiting for my documents so that I can take the NCLEX, but I have to say that the overall experience was priceless.