That Expat Title

According to my handy dictionary, expat is an adjective that means living in a foreign land.

The previous article I posted doesn’t ring true for me. I am a Filipino expat because I’m living in a country other than the Philippines. People around me here call me an expat. My classification in school is an “expat”. I’m no immigrant. I get expat treatment like my American colleagues. If we enjoy the same privileges, I won’t know but I’d like to think so. Although according to my experience, I am wary now.

At which point that article rings true for me now. The title “expat” isn’t the issue here. It’s the indirect racism. The word “expat” is used sparingly with coloured people because it has superiority attached to it, and whether we like it or not, especially in places where it was colonized by Westerners, which are, bluntly speaking, the Third World countries (they colonize us and they won’t let us in their countries via visa restrictions – funny).

The word denotes privilege. When I was a child, I grew up in a place where expats outnumber the locals, so being an expat wasn’t different. I grew up with a consciousness that foreigners are locals though: my neighbors were Germans, Japanese, Canadians, etc. My parents were sort of local expats though, and they were in a tough spot: they were not from the same island as the locals. They didn’t know anyone, and since they came from the capital Manila, they spoke Tagalog which is deemed more superior than the dialect. They do not have the same values as the locals and that made them stand out, and standing out in a sea of similar-looking people sharing the same kind of ethnicity is a breeding ground for jealousy and backbiting. My parents did not want to retire there.

See when you are uprooted from your hometown or home country, the leaders (or at least the smart people) understand that you have no support being an import. No family, no house, no friends. You have to adjust to new cultures, new places, new food; maybe even time zones. It’s not easy. So managers/leaders give out “perks” like housing, settlement allowances, earlier home time and holiday allowances to compensate the lack. You are treated to first class facilities and treated to the best parties because your host is showing off his country. You are most probably in the company of leaders and movers in the industry themselves because, well, leaders have to move places to move people and companies. And locals only see the “perks” because they want it, too.

And in Asia, whether we like to admit it or not, the culture of caste system is very much alive, thanks to having centuries of colonial rule. Colonial rule meant having the white people (colonizers) being superior, and more powerful. The natives don’t have ANYTHING. Now you know why Asians have the penchant for skin whitening products. All if it, even the concept of beauty, boils down to power.

So if an Asian comes over to work on a white country, I would understand the discrepancy of the white-coloured labeling of expat: do you want your slave to have that power? What’s worse is that the Westerners don’t label the Asians like that. It’s the Asians who label their fellow Asians. The Asians, with our very strange non-confrontational, everything-is-okay-but-you’re-treated-like-shit culture, can be very difficult to deal with because of this ingrained racism.

I am lucky because I can speak Engish better than most people here, if not, my dark skin and curly hair would have proved to be a disadvantage, because, hey, I look like a real Asian – not worthy to have “perks”.

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Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

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In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”.

What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “an expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’)”.

Defined that way, you should expect that any person going to work outside of his or her country for a period of time would be an expat, regardless of his skin colour or country. But that is not the case in reality; expat is a term reserved exclusively for western white people going to work abroad.

Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. However, Europeans are expats because they can’t be at the same level as other ethnicities. They are superior. Immigrants is a term set aside for ‘inferior races’.

Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal, the leading financial information magazine in the world, has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’. Here are the main conclusions: “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats … It’s a double standard woven into official policy.”

The reality is the same in Africa and Europe. Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period. “I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors. And being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term “expat”. I’m a highly qualified immigrant, as they call me, to be politically correct,” says an African migrant worker.

Most white people deny that they enjoy the privileges of a racist system. And why not? But our responsibility is to point out and to deny them these privileges, directly related to an outdated supremacist ideology. If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there. The political deconstruction of this outdated worldview must continue.

Mawuna Remarque Koutonin is the editor of SiliconAfrica.com, where this blog was first published. Follow @siliconafrica on Twitter.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow@GuardianGDP on Twitter.

In Transit: Jakarta to Manila

I am writing this at Soekarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta waiting for Cebu Pacific counters to open. My flight is in four hours bound for Manila. For the first time in my not so young life, an airline counter is closed for check-in for an international flight (THAT’S IN FOUR HOURS).

Keeping my composure – or at least trying to by writing my thoughts down – I decided to look for a place where I can sit down and chill. I walked around looking for McDonald’s (what else) because they have cheap and good coffee. It does not exist in this airport so I settled for the next best thing: Starbucks Old Town White Coffee A&W. Another mystery to me: How can A&W exist in this place and not McDonald’s?

I went in anyway. I saw power outlets by their tables so that’s definitely a place to go. It had wifi too (but at this time of writing it’s not working). Like any A&W, it came in stark brown and orange theme, with the rootbeer float on display. Unlike any other A&W outlets (in MNL anyway), the bear mascot is still there! Flashback to 1994 when I was seven and I popped my root beer float cherry – that bear was a witness to it.

What I’m saying is, this joint is a freaking time warp. The place feels like it’s stuck in the late 90’s or mid 00’s the latest. It’s ancient and worn but it’s clean and, well, friendly. Too friendly in fact that it doesn’t care almost. I like that. I like places that give customers independence and that is rare in Asia.

Too many a commercial establishment have that badger of a staff constantly staring at you and asking if you’re all right. I don’t like that, although I know the management means well, like trying to force a slave on you, but man I see it as invasion of privacy.

So I’m back here, charging my phone, writing this down and just… watching.

The default hairstyle of flight attendants are French Twists. They don’t give out spoons and forks here, which is weird for me. On my part I ordered myself root beer (in honor of the memory that is A&W), brownies and perkedel – which turned out to be the Indonesian version of bubble and squeak/potato croquette, which doesn’t really need cutlery for me – but I got served spoons, or plastic hooks which resemble spoons. Innovative product design perhaps, but it kinda reminds me of the stool collection sampling tool you get at the lab.

The rest of the population in the midst is ordering fried chicken and rice. Everyone is eating by hand. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not by any means squeamish but I am a bit culture shocked. It’s so different. Back at home – you can only eat by hand at home. I get two spoons for scooping out my float and brownies (the bigger spoon on the picture is for the drink – I’m spooning a drink and I can’t fork the cake) but… no spoon and fork for… a proper meal. It’s cool though. Again, product design. Their rice is packed in a paper pocket, like a sandwich so that you won’t have any problems with grains sticking on your fingers. The rice is shaped like a burger bun so you actually bite into it like a burger. The chicken, well, is still a chicken and will forever be finger food. I’ll only comment if they will give out sticks to pick french fries with (which I saw in the school I’m working for – WTF).

I see promotional posters that say “True Love Comes In Pair” for the brownies. Shame how one letter can change the whole feel of an international brand, but oh well, remember remember – it’s not their first language so don’t judge.

Okay let’s go to set meals. The Good Friends Meal is for 4 people with 4 pieces of rice, 4 glasses of drinks and 8 pieces of chicken with 2 desserts. 2 desserts and 8 pieces of chicken. Hm. The Good Family Meal, arguably for the family, comes with “9 Chicken”. No rice, no dessert, no drinks, just 9 Chicken. I don’t know about you but their promotion guy is a bit funky in my opinion.

But after that’s all said and done, I have to say: it’s nice here. It’s not the perfect place that’s for sure but it’s real and that’s what matters. It gives great food (tell you what: root beer and fresh brownies – what can go wrong?), snappy and smiley service, and clean surroundings. For a place that serves people who are tired, anxious, jetlagged and fucked over by plane companies, this place gives out the comfort that travelers need.

McDonald’s Is Home

There is nothing more ubiquitous in the world like McDonald’s. It’s everywhere, it’s everyone’s favourite, and it’s amazing. It may be scoffed upon by “foodists” but I don’t care. McDonald’s is a refuge from all things strange and unwelcome.

Why the sudden love for McDonald’s today, you ask?

Well, I was supposed to post an article about my assessment style but it didn’t feel right. I was preparing to leave this house tonight, cleaning the fridge and whatnot when my boyfriend woke up and I took advantage of it by spending some quality time with him before he got back to sleep. I missed him yesterday. I have this thing where I just have to speak with him daily or else I feel bad, like I didn’t do my duty; I missed out on fun kinda thing. I genuinely miss him, and it’s hard with time zones, especially if you’re both tired from a grueling work week. You may say that it’s too much, the daily dose of him, but it works for us, and that’s how it is.

Anyway, I was lying in bed waking up from a nap and thought how lucky I was to have been served breakfast in bed two years ago, by him. Or how we would have breakfast in the Malaysian border when we went for visa runs. All of them having Egg McMuffins. Or how we would have lunch at the mall over Fillet-O-Fish.  I keep imagining how it would be like when we are together, how we have so many memories together.

There is a McDonald’s here in this neighborhood and if Ash were here I’m pretty sure where we will go during our midnight cravings. I never went once. It kinda feels sacrilegious to go there without him.

But that’s it. I think. You never really go to McDonald’s because you want food, especially delicious food. You go there because it’s convenient and it is home, meaning, it’s familiar and you have had lots of memories in it. It is actually a place where you make memories – from your high school saving up your allowance to buy a CD dinner stops, to medschool McDonald’s midnight cramming, to romantic breakfasts with the love of your life, that fastfood is always there.

It’s always close to you, it’s always fresh, it’s always clean, and it’s always cheap; You go from Naga, Manila, Bangkok to Hatyai, Malaysia to Indonesia, it’s all the same. Like an airport, McDonald’s is a neutral ground. You almost have your own McDonald’s decorum that is different from the rest of the shops (if you’re traveling abroad, you might catch yourself letting your guard down in McD’s). I know it doesn’t, but I can almost say it looks after you.

I like how globalisation works like this: in a way that the world gets really tiny, that my McD’s can be your McD’s. We all have that middle ground and it’s not pretentious at all: just solid, usual, fastfood grub.

I am going back home to the Philippines in a few hours, and trust me, I think I’ll find myself in a McDonald’s later. I am not excited about it, to be honest. I want my man to be with me more than ever but hey, what I’m doing is for us anyway. However, someday, I wish that we will continue our McD’s ritual. It’s fun, down-to-earth and yeah, feels like home.

Why Teach Abroad?

Teaching, they say, is a noble profession.

I say teaching is like any other profession: it requires focus, professionalism, sacrifice and sense of humor. Where the noble part came from, I don’t know but for me that’s making the teaching profession look better than it should.

But I know I can say this of teaching though, that it’s not stagnant. Every day is a different day, it’s very social as you get to talk to people (little people), it’s creative because you can twist a lesson to suit your teaching style (not fully creative though as you have parameters to work on, thanks to the curriculum), and you get to be loved by children – priceless! Then of course, travel.

Before I started teaching, I thought the biggest perk was the holidays. I was wrong. Teaching proved to be quite stressful that you actually need to have holidays – like the children need holidays. It’s not a perk – it’s a must. But the other reasons are totally valid, it feels like you’re in the service sector but it’s more personal as you get to develop minds and people.

I grew up in an international setting and I knew I wanted to travel the world. I just didn’t know how. I tried to be a doctor because my psychiatrist-uncle travels around the world working for the United Nations, and it’s always an all expenses paid trip. I loved looking at this display cupboard full of turtle sculptures from Indonesia, glasses from Czech Republic, paintings from Japan – I want that.

So I went to medical school armed with a very different motivation compared to my classmates’ and of course, I flunked. Then I tried teaching in an international school. From medical school and the government office full of locals and the usual Filipino bureacracy, international school teaching for me was back to feeling at home. I can be weird and not judged because, hey, it’s cultural (I’m such a prick). I met various people there that honed my worldliness (hahaha). I get to learn about their culture and learned to be open and tolerant, and not to mention admire the diversity of it all!

My headteacher was from Honduras, the deputy principal was American, the English teacher was British, my Filipino friend there was an ASEAN tae kwon do athlete, the other one was brilliant SEN teacher/cougar and my best friend there was filthy rich and teaching was her hobby! It was colorful and fun. We were housed in a middle of a jungle and all we did after school was cook, go to the beach and play Nintendo wii.

In the next international I worked in, I met Ash. I grew from hanging out with friends to hanging out with my man, who happens to be of a different nationality from me! It is all about growth, and I’m lucky that I have someone I can share intimate details with and learn a different perspective while talking about it.

International schools put a premium on the diversity of cultures that there are always festivals to make the foreigners feel at home. You have to consider that these people left their comfort zone and that is one heck of a difficult thing to do, so you give them stuff to do and things to enjoy, and of course, more money.

I learned that everything changes when your title is an “expat”.

So that’s what I did. I moved countries.

It’s not the easiest thing to do because you just left your whole world but it’s a goddamn great experience to be treated really well (read: spoiled): We are always asked what we need, the owner of the schools treated us to different places (in Hatyai), we never got no for an answer whenever we make a request, may it be school supplies or travel itineraries. It’s so easy to get what you want because the company doesn’t want you unhappy because if you are, you might go home – and they spent a fortune on you! So they have to have a return of investment from you (which means the goodness you experience is fake lol).

However, to sum it all up, teaching internationally is a dream because I can develop my profession in strange and exciting places I wouldn’t thought I’d be in. In international schools, I work with excellent resources and having highly motivated kids make it easier to work. I also work with very compentent teachers because international schools have excellent standards. My adaptation and EQ skills are constantly tested. I know I am a more patient person now. And I can save more now, plus I have enjoy a different kind of respect from the locals, so that’s good. And of course I enjoy a lifestyle that enables me to dream and travel!

At the end of the day it is still a job, and because of the perks, you have to work hard to get to that level. But if you love what you’re doing, or at least you’re doing it for a purpose, you know you will do whatever it takes to be happy, and this is what it is.

Acquiring A Schengen Visa: Proof of Financial Capability Part 1, Funds Transfer

Getting a Schengen Visa is not a walk in the park. It involves serious strategic planning for those not coming from US, UK, Canada, NZ/Aus, especially if you don’t have a residence permit in Indonesia (but working) — meaning you can’t have a bank account.

Now Schengen requirements state that I have to have proof of financial capability to show that you can support yourself while in the EU (for Spain you would need €64, 53/day times the total duration of the stay times the total of the applicants. The total is €580, 77 per person for the duration of less than 9 days [data from Spanish embassy]; for Portugal it’s €40.00 per day plus €75.00 per entry into the country [data from Portuguese embassy]). Bank statements must show the name and address of owner(s). Electronic printouts are accepted; proof of regular income, e.g. pay slips of the last three months;. ! That means payslips (check), bank transaction slips (no banking activity here, so nope), OR bank certificates (nope). I’m screwed, but not royally. I have an active bank account in the Philippines so hey, I’ll wire my money there! Ha, but I can’t have a bank certificate because the bank needs my “personal appearance” in order to do it and also logistically, I can’t withdraw my money because my debit card is expired.

What do I do? Go bank to where the banks are: Philippines. I’ll do that next week, hoooray! Progress for my Schengen Visa!

I had 40 million Rupiahs this morning. I don’t want to [physically] carry it to me to the because: a) it’s too risky (what if my bag got lost, what if someone picked my pocket, what if what if what if!), b) it’s too bulky c) I don’t know if Philippine Foreign Exchange Counters would have a favorable exchange rate for the Rupiah; I know we had a hard time exchanging the currency in Thailand. And I’m sure black markets who have a really good rate for these kinds of transactions, won’t have the Rupiah exchange readily available.

I was also thinking of just bringing cash to Sokarno Hatta International Airport and have the Currency Exchange Counter there exchange my bills, but I doubt if they will welcome my Rp 40M transaction. Maybe they will, I don’t know, but I don’t want to risk it because I only have 4 days in the Philippines and I don’t want to waste any time on doubts, second thoughts. and Rupiah-Dollar-Peso hunting in case the airport guy tells me I can only exchange Rp 10M for the day. I want to arrive with all my papers ready to sign and cards waiting to be picked up (heads up to UnionBank for excellent customer service, I have been transacting business with my banker globally via iMessage, I highly recommend it).

So what I thought was to wire money to my account. I went to the bank here, BCA, which was conveniently located in front of my grocery shopping mecca. I messaged my banker in the Philippines. She said she was in a meeting and will get back to me later. So I messaged my mother (second time today, the first time was I told her I was resting because I was having a weird, flu-like attack and she told me to go out and finish this bank business “it would do you well not to think you’re ill”, she said) telling her that I need to know the details of her bank account so that she can be my dummy in this whole affair.

Now I’d like to think I know banking, money and how the commerce works. I have been signing checks, checking SWIFT codes, wiring money and negotiating (impossible rates lol) with banks and tellers for my parents ever since they decided I can do so, and that was when I was 16. So ten years experience with tough Philippine banking under my belt gives me confidence to saunter and make my chaching speeches in banks (given they speak English).

So mother. Dummy. Clearing time for international wiring for the Philippines takes 2-4 days because it’s a “slow country” (Thailand isn’t a slow country so it’s instant, that’s why I love it there) by international banking classification. I timed it, today is actually an opportune time for me to transact the wire, as it can be received on Friday and they can wire it to my name via Western Union on Monday morning when I arrive Manila. I can then withdraw the money from Western Union from China Bank (next door to UnionBank in The Fort), and deposit it to my account; have my banker furnish me my bank certificate, boom. Part one of banking journey done!

My mother denied my request. She told me not to use her account because “it’s from Bank of the Philippine Islands”, meaning it would take 1 week for the bank to clear it because they don’t have any international partners except Wells Fargo, so it would use at least 3 banks to process the wire, meaning it will cost time and money. What a crappy diplomatic system this bank has. So I told my mother “screw it, I’ll Western Union this to myself!” and she replied, “Isn’t that money laundering?!”

Fucking hell, who launders Rp 40M?! Really??

But of course, respect for my mama wins, and she makes sense, I don’t wanna get jailed for money laundering too, over Rp 40M, just play it safe, I told myself.

She suggested to wire it to her, I’m like okay cool, but I have to pay Rp 750,000 so I have to readjust my budget. Wait. So while recomputing my budget (I tend to be very organized with the ins and outs of my money and be pretty strict about it), she messaged, “can’t you just bring in cash? I’m sure the customs won’t look at you, you don’t have $10,000 anyway” and $10, 000 is the maximum hand carry-able cash you can have to enter (I think) ANY country. And I told her my worries about the Rupiah – Peso conversion hunt which I don’t really have time to be concerned about.

Then chaching moment! I thought of a solution that was GLARING. SIMPLE. SMART. EFFICIENT.

It reminded me of A’s story about how the Native Americans didn’t see the ships of Europeans getting near the shore because they are not expecting to see it there.

Me: “Ma, I’ll just buy US dollars.”

Ma: “Yeah, you better, it’s easier hahahahaha”

Me: “Puta! It’s that simple, I feel so stupid”

Ma: “Money matters and banking do that”

In the end, that’s what I did. And I earned! Instead of RP 12,930 that xe.com reported as the rate, I got Rp 13, 230 for $1 rate. Not that it greatly matters but I know that a cent counts in these kinds of transactions. They ended up rounding my Rupiahs to $3,000 and returning an excess of Rp 630, 000. I will encash that in the airport currency exchange kiosk when I get there. So I signed a ton of paperwork speaking sadikit of Bahasa Inggris, waited for at least thirty minutes and then boom. Got what I wanted. Happy days! Man I never felt so accomplished haha! It’s the little things.

Next step, Philippines.

Cost of Living: Manila

We started with Thailand, now we are going to the Philippines to sustain this cost of living articles. Manila, the country’s capital, isn’t very popular to backpackers nor expats. I think this is because of the geographical location: It’s a ballache to go to the Philppines. You have to fly and fights are costly.

However, Manila is very different to the rest of Southeast Asia because of this coincidence. It’s the only catholic country and it is far more “Anglocized” than the rest of its neighbors, meaning, you can’t make money as an English teacher here. Maybe that’s also the reason why we don’t have a lot of backpackers.

It’s also a bit costly. When the boyfriend and I were living there, we did not save anything even if we had the Thailand lifestyle (most often that not anyway) where we eat out mor because we did not have a fully functional kitchen. Here goes!

Thank you to Ajarn.com by the way for inspiring this post.

Currency references: 33 Baht to one US Dollar
50 Baht to one Pound Sterling
37 Baht to one Euro
25 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.74 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Working in Manila, PH

Monthly Earnings: 38,200

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I took home around 38,200 baht a month from my job as a Teaching Assistant in a British School in Paranaque, Metro Manila.I assisted EYFS, KS1 and KS2 classes.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Before I met A, I saved 12 to 15k a month. When we got together, we splurged on food and halved expenses with him. We lived life in Makati restaurants and Salcedo Village, so none. Haha!

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I rented a room with its own bathroom for 7,500. The payment included electric and water bills. The room is a tiny 7sq meter thing.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

P1000 to P4000 a month, depending on how late I wake up in the morning. P4000 a month if I take a cab, and P1000 if I take the MRT or bus – not recommended. I use the cab. With A, we use the cab too, so P4000 a month.

b) Utility bills

As mentioned earlier, bills were part of my rent. A’s bills were paid for by the school as he was an expat. I usually pay P2000 for internet though, with wifi (dongle).

c) Food – both restaurants and supermarket shopping

P6000 because I put a P1500 budget every week. Sometimes it reaches to P10000 though. I never scrimp on food.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Oh this cost a lot as we probably have an average expenditure of P2000 per night out and we went out a lot! Maybe 15,000. Jesus Christ. Ridic!

e) Books, computers

Zero expenses because… piracy!

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

EXPENSIVE AS F*UCK. I won’t be back here.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real ‘bargain’ here?

Erm, friendship? LOL probably electronics and electronic services like repairs and open-lining your phones. Greenbelt is heaven for those kinda stuff.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

For the Philippines I think P75,000 would be comfortable. P50,000 is fine, but there will be cutbacks. If you are an expat I think P150k should be your minimum because apartments here like the one A had in Makati (normal, 35 sq meter studio) cost P75000 per month to rent! Ridiculous!

How To Reserve Flights For Your Schengen Visa Application (Without Paying The Actual Flight)

As you know, I’m on the hunt on my DIY Acquiring the Schengen Visa Adventure (read: no travel agents). So I’m collecting information and this has taken to me to many wonderful places in the internet. As promised, any gold nugget of information will be shared.

Well I found this website called Dream Euro Trip and it’s owned by a very vivacious schoolmate (yay University of the Philippines!) and he has some wonderful resources on how to actually go to EU, which, as Filipinos, can be a daunting task. I hate that part of my passport because we are stereotyped as illegal immigrants and most countries are cautious of us now. ARRRRGH! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t be illegal! But then again I understand the point of illegals because if acquiring a Schengen Visa is difficult and then you are suddenly in Spain, will you be willing to submit yourself to the uncertainty of being granted a visa or not, now that you’re in the place? It’s a vicious cycle.

Anyway, I will post his article here, where he offers his service for that requirement called flight reservation. Do you know how to do it? Well I had to ask several people first, but now, fret not because it’s here and it’s online!

How To Book Roundtrip Flight Reservation For Visa Application Without Paying The Actual Flight

by DJ Yabis, originally posted here

If you’re applying for a Schengen visa (or any other visa for that matter), most of the time the embassy requires you to submit a flight reservation or a flight confirmation and you wonder what exactly that is. I’ve been getting a lot of emails about this from readers and I might as well just create a blogpost to explain it and help you get one easily without paying the actual flight cost and without leaving your house (check the end of the post how to do it!).

Here’s what the embassies require from their official websites:

Details regarding the means of travel for the outward – and return journey (details regarding the airline), proof of reservation of a roundtrip ticket – German Embassy

Roundtrip flight booking (please do not purchase your ticket unless your visa is granted) – French Embassy

Copy of the roundtrip airline reservation with Passenger Registration Number (or reservation number) and travel itinerary. The reservation should prove that the stay in the Schengen area does not exceed 90 days. It is recommended not to buy the ticket until the visa is granted. – Dutch Embassy

Copy of your confirmed flight reservation – Belgian Embassy

What Is A Roundtrip Flight Itinerary, Flight Confirmation Or Flight Reservation?

I know a lot of you are confused about this. I was too! Some questions that ran in my mind were: Do I really need to book a flight? What if my visa is denied? Where can I get this flight confirmation? How do I get a confirmed flight reservation? Do I have to pay for the flight now? Do they need to see itineraries from Skycanner or something but they don’t need to see that I’ve actually booked and paid for those flights? How does one get a “confirmed airline reservation” without buying a ticket?

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!?

Please stop banging your head against the wall. It’s actually VERY EASY.

A flight confirmation, reservation, itinerary or whatever they call it is basically just a piece of paper that shows a flight itinerary which you can easily get from a travel agency. Not all travel agencies issue this though so it does take time and money to find a travel agency that will give you one. The travel agency has access to flights and can make the flight reservation for your Schengen visa purposes. Most of them charge differently for this and rarely do you find one that will issue it for free.

In short, it’s basically just a formality for visa application purposes.

Below is a sample of a flight reservation so you can imagine how it looks like. Note that the travel agency only “reserves” the flight for you so you don’t actually pay for the flight. It is recommended that you only book your actual flight AFTER your visa is approved. You can book your flight on your own or via the same travel agency. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to actually take this flight. And you don’t need to cancel it after or anything like that. It’s just for the embassy.

Sample Flight Reservation For Your Visa Application

sample flight reservation for visa application

flight itinerary template for visa application

How Can I Find A Travel Agency That Can Issue Me A Flight Reservation/Confirmation/Itinerary?

Well you have to know a travel agency near you and ask. Repeat process until you find one which can create a flight reservation for you. Each travel agency charge differently for a flight reservation. I used to hop from one travel agency to the next in Malate just to have it. Under the scorching sun of Manila and the bitchy people at these agencies, it was no fun to do it!

How To Get A Flight Reservation For Schengen Visa Application Without Leaving Your House And Without Paying The Full Price

I HATE EMBASSIES AND VISA APPLICATIONS like you do so my goal in life is to make it less stressful and easier for everyone of us. If I can help one person everyday I am happy. Lots of good karma for me.

So I have created a solution to this flight reservation issue and partnered up with Travelta Tours and Travel, an authorised travel agency which can book your flight reservation and email it to you so you don’t have to waste time looking for a travel agency and you don’t have to waste money going around to find one. All you have to do is print it! Voila! You will receive something like the sample flight reservation I showed above. The flight reservation fee is 20 euros. 

This service is available to everyone around the world who needs to apply for a Schengen visa or any kind of visa.

Why is this amazing? Because you don’t need to go anywhere and waste your precious time, not to mention sweating under the scorching sun looking for a travel agency.

If you’re interested to avail of this service, here’s what you need to do:

1. Order the flight reservation online per person and pay using your credit card or Paypal (if you don’t have a Paypal account just click “Pay with my credit or debit card” at the bottom right of the page, no problem!).

2. Send an email to flights.ph@gmail.com with the Subject: Flight Confirmation – Your Full Name (for example, Flight Confirmation – Anna Batungbakal)

3. In the email, please attach a scanned copy of your passport or a photo of your passport (they need this info to create your flight reservation) and include your departure dates and destination(s), your visa interview appointment date and location. Note: Please DO NOT attach other things besides your passport. If you already paid, the travel agency will see it so no need to include your paypal confirmation. For example:

Hello!

I’ve just ordered the flight reservation service. I’ve attached my passport photo and below is my itinerary:

Manila – Frankfurt – January 12, 2015
Frankfurt – Manila – February 14, 2015 (OK, how sad is this that you’re flying on Valentines?)

My visa interview is on December 5, 2014 in Manila, Philippines.

xx,
Anna Batungbakal

4. The travel agency will process your flight reservation within 2 business days (not including weekends!). You will receive a PDF of your flight reservation and a link with your unique booking code via email which you can access anytime. If you book it on weekends, you will receive it on Monday. People rest, too, you know? So you better book it in advance and during the week!

Extra notes

a. If you are flying from cities with multiple airports, please specify the airport as well if you have a preferred one.

b. This flight reservation fee is applicable for roundtrip flights only (or two flights to any destination). If you want us to reserve three or more flights, let us know via email.

That’s it! If you need rush processing or there are 3 or more of you, read below. If you have more questions, check the FAQ below or post on the comments and I’ll answer it.

I hope this helps. Be an angel and share this to your friends who are applying for a visa.

Rush Processing

If you’re desperate and really need the flight reservation within 24 hours, we can accommodate you. We will try to do everything to make the flight reservation as soon as possible.

Order the rush flight itinerary online  and follow the same instructions above. Don’t even email to ask if we can create one for you. Just order it. We see orders immediately and will act on it asap. We will refund you anyway if we can’t book your flight reservation before your visa interview.

Note: Travelta is based in the Philippines and follows the timezone of the Philippines for its work hours which is 9 AM – 6 PM.

Kicking Homesickness by Going Places: Koh Chang

*Featured Image and editing courtesy of Ashley Andrews, (c) 2014 :)) thank you! Xxxxx

When you’re an expat, it’s almost inevitable for you to feel homesick, or even worse, homeless at times. It generally occurs when you have a series of frustrating events happening at work, which – honesty world speaking – is the main reason for why you are living in such a place. You get to ask yourself, WTF am I doing here?

Then you go to a quiet corner of your mind and meditate on your reasons, thereby putting your goals and your purposes in place. You feel at peace, and hopefully realise that a) it’s only temporary, and b) it’s not a bad life, only a bad day.

Unfortunately, this moment of peace happens to me after I alienate my support group, which is annoying for me because I know I have scored bad karma points, leading me to tell myself (over and over again) to chill and relax.

That’s the reason why I told you to pack home.  Because in these moments of self-inflicted suffering, you have to be reminded of your purpose, of your direction. For me, these are pictures of my family and my boyfriend – cheesy as it may sound (better get used to it because I don’t mind being called cheesy), but I get my peace and strength from memories I have of them in my head.

Today is one of those days, and naturally I sat down in my bed, clicking through folders and folders of pictures of wonderful memories. I saw Koh Chang pictures.

Koh Chang is the second largest island of Thailand after Phuket (whodathunk Phuket was an island?! I overheard this factoid while doing a visa run and google confirmed it, ah the glory of eavesdropping) and it literally means Elephant Island as koh means island and chang means beer elephant. It is mountainous and it is a massive National Park, meaning it cannot be developed. Only 3% of the island can be developed and I think that’s why it remains so gorgeous.

It was my first taste of abroad, having my first valentine’s celebration with my man there too. There were so many firsts happening there in my life, like seeing elephants in a field (though sadly chained), dipping into a waterfall, falling off a tree, among others. The island was so significant for me, it feels like it’s home. Like, the type where you’d go to when you have a boo boo, and recharge there to feel safe. I’ve gone there three times this past two years, and it was always sweet. And recharging.

And recharge you do. Magic Garden is one of the best places to stay in as you feel right at home. I can lounge around in their bean bags and learn Spanish all day long. I can people watch there while lying down deep within the jungle with a bucket of gin and tonic. Another place to stay in is Little Eden, which actually lives up to its name. Rather pricey for the island, it’s clean and quiet and it offers very nice, new bungalows in the jungle. I’m proud to say there’s no TV there (my sort of place unless there’s a UFC fight), like Magic Garden. Oh and they make awesome food there. It may be funky sometimes (I give up expecting perfection when it comes to “Western” food in TH) but it’s always fresh and tasty. Case in point: I crave Magic Garden’s tofu burger like a pregnant woman sometimes. It’s that good. Oh the relish of that thing.

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White Sands Beach is the liveliest part of that island but I’m glad to say that it’s nowhere near as hedonistic to the party scene in Samui. It still has a nice laid-back vibe but I fear that it will go soon because Koh Chang is getting famous!

There are so many places in Thailand catering to tourists but none of them has got the real charm of Koh Chang, which is rustic and charming at best. It can be really cheap to stay in too, but I guess the best part of it is the authenticity it emanates. You know Thailand, most touristy places are manufactured: Koh San road, floating markets, Elephant Camps, the whole bohemian vibe of Chiang Mai, etc, to lure tourists in. Expats like me get disappointed in turn.

Koh Chang is different because you feel like a local. No one hassles you to buy things, no one gives a fuck about who you are, and most importantly, the international-local population there is almost equal (like Samui) – hence perhaps the local feel. Oh and speaking of Samui, it kinda feels like a secret as most people go to Samui or Phuket when they go to Thailand.

One day, I’d like to go back there with my man. I don’t think I can go back there alone (the feels), but tonight, let’s. Even if it’s just in pictures.

10 Common Questions Teachers Are Asked During The Recruitment Process

I have had 5 workplaces in 5 years, so I think that kinda makes me an experienced job interviewee. Do you know that it’s prime time to look for teaching jobs right now? I know we have had the article How To Ace Your Job Interview but just let’s have another practice before you jump into that interview.

The following article is one of the best resources I have read regarding teaching job interviews. I found it on the teacher recruitment site called Cassidy Education. That blog has some useful articles (it’s new though, so you have to wait for it) on education, especially about SEN teaching. Anyway, here goes.

10 Common Questions Teachers Are Asked During The Recruitment Process

Originally posted on Cassidy Education 

In preparation for your interview, we’ve assembled some common questions that will likely come up during the interview process. See our list of hints and tips below:

Question #1 – I walk into your classroom during one of your lessons, what can I expect to see?

Possible responses:

  • Enthusiastic discussions
  • Clear progress being made both orally and written
  • Engaged students
  • Well-behaved and respectful students

When responding, elaborate on your experiences, achievements and student results.

Question #2 – Describe an account of when you have adopted a behaviour management policy and the effect this had on your students?

When providing your example, remember to explain why the need for the policy in the first place, how you implemented it and the response of the students.  It is also good to demonstrate your own growth from this experience and discuss how you could implement/adapt/improve such a policy in the future.

Question #3 – If I spoke to one of your colleagues, what would they say about you?

The question is really trying to get you to demonstrate your own contribution to school life, not just for students but your peers also.  For extra points you can detail how you wish to be viewed by your colleagues in the future, this is especially important if you are applying for a senior position.

Question #4 – Why is (insert any subject here) taught in schools?

This question looks obvious on the surface but it can be quite a difficult question to answer.  This is more evident when the subject is Maths or English etc as the answer appears obvious initially but when trying to validate the inclusion of said subject in the curriculum it can be very difficult to quantify.

Possible responses:

  • To enhance other subjects
  • Improve a student’s career prospects
  • Encourage independent learning
  • Develop skills (Literacy, numeracy, ICT, etc)
  • Promote self-discipline
  • Improve health and fitness

Your responses will of course be dependent on the subject you teach. Be honest and think outside of the box, provide realistic reasons and support with good examples of how your subject has enriched the life of your students.

Question #5 – Why do you want to work in special education?

Be honest and explain your reasons, remember that your interviewer is looking to see that you understand a need for education over just simply caring for students with Special Educational Needs.

Question #6 – Random question based on an inclusion in your CV.

This is another reason why your CV should always be up to date and only contain genuine qualifications and experience, that way you don’t need to prepare for this too much.  Be honest and answer fully, providing details and examples wherever necessary and possible.

Question #7 – What is it about our school that makes you want to work here?

It is important that you demonstrate to the interviewer you have done some background work about the school and you have specific reasons for wishing to join the school.  Initially you will need to scour their website to familiarise yourself with the school, their policies, campus, etc.  Pick out something that genuinely appeals to you and for extra points, identify some reasons based on your visit and experiences during the interview process.

Question #8 – What do you think students look for in teachers?

To be: fair and consistent, enthusiastic, humourous, passionate about their subject with an ability to involve everyone in the lesson and encourage contributions.

Question #9 – Can you evaluate your one-off lesson?

Teaching a lesson as part of the interview process is often a source of anxiety, but it shouldn’t be, it’s a great way for you to evaluate the school and for the interviewer to evaluate you.  The interviewer will want you to be honest and be self-critical when necessary but also recognises what went well.

Question #10 – What do we lose if we decide not to offer you the position?

This is the closing question often used by interviewers, they want you to sell yourself, let them know what you are about and how you can enhance their school. Remember to be confident and enthusiastic, this is your chance to close the deal.

Right! Now that you’re ready for the interview, let’s take a look at what jobs are currently available.  Click to view Live Jobs on Cassidy Education website or submit your CV so we can aid you in your search.