From Raised In America to Nursing in the Philippines: The Discipline of a Lifetime

by lyly

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This article describes the experience of a Filipina-American who took up nursing in the Philippines. It encompasses the learning that came from the discipline of the last four years as a nursing student. Every trial became a blessing, a valuable lifelong lesson.

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    From Raised In America to Nursing in the Philippines: The Discipline of a Lifetime

    Once upon a time, I encountered the most unexpected milestone of my life…

    I still find it a blessing that after 4 years, I was able to sacrifice my time and effort to leave California and adjust to life in the Philippines. I still remember my first day as a college freshman. I was sitting in the little wooden desk, waiting for my first subject, Psychology to start. It was a noisy environment. The other students in the room seemed to know each other by name. I anxiously sat as I pretended to mind my own business. I did not understand everything they were saying to each other. Next thing I knew, someone turned to me and frantically said “Tignan mo nga yun blush-on ko..parang na sampal ba ako?" (Look at my blush on, does it look like someone slapped me?) I interpreted that maybe she meant "Does my blush look okay?" I nodded with delight only to find out that my reaction was probably not the reaction she expected.

    It was only when each student introduced themselves to the class that everyone found out I was not raised in the Philippines. "Hi. My name is Lyzah and I'm from San Francisco." The room became so quiet that I could hear the air being blown out from the air condition. Next thing I knew, my fellow classmates put their index fingers under their nose as if pretending to wipe it. That’s when I first discovered the term ‘nosebleed’ or otherwise the term used for those with foreign tongues.

    The first few years of my journey were the most difficult. I felt like I went back to my infant years of separation anxiety. It was tough to deal with being a Pacific Ocean away from my family and friends. I filled in the void by keeping myself busy with studies. Every morning when I woke up and at night before I went to sleep, I would remind myself that God gave me another day to live for a reason.

    Every day, God had a purpose for me. I learned to appreciate my culture. I will never forget the time when I had my first community immersion in Nueva Ejica. I learned how to clean and fry tilapia fish. I pumped my own bath water from the community well every 2 am in the morning. At night, I would sleep on the floor and make little forts with the help of my other batch mates as to prevent little bugs from falling on us. I do not really have a fear of bugs, but I have a fear of them being in contact with my body. I was not used to the tropical insects and I always remember being very cautious about things that were flying or crawling next to me or towards me. I was raised in a city with a fairly cold climate, so living without an air condition or an electric fan was quite the discipline for me. The fresh air from the provinces was like therapy for my lungs. Life was simple beyond the city. I cherished the natural beauty of the Philippines. The tropical environment that surrounded me taught me to recognize the importance of preserving God’s gift to us, our very dear earth.

    I have always enjoyed the festivity of the Filipino people. Being around happy people made me happy as well. The positive energy really echoes to others. There was always a reason to celebrate something. For example, in America, nobody claps after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist! However here in the Philippines, everyone claps because they are praising our Lord! I love the breathtaking sensation I get whenever I watch fiesta parades of people in ravishing costumes. I never joined a dance class in my whole entire life until I found out it was part of the college curriculum. I remember participating in the Filipino Folk dance for the P.E subject. In all honesty, I was not coordinated and I easily forgot the steps. There is something quite unique about the gracefulness of Filipino dances. I have come to admire and respect our Filipino ancestors who have set our customs and traditions. With dancing, there is also singing! At every party I went to, there was always some form of karaoke. I would here “Sample, sample, sample!” Next thing I knew, someone was up at the microphone and singing their heart away. In the Philippines, one must sing, dance, or play a game during a celebration. It’s impossible that one could get away with it. This is why I will miss the most-ever enjoyed nursing week. The collaboration of the nursing family and the cheerful spirit really inspires me to always relish in the company of others. The positive energy of festivities can really instill an optimistic aura in everyone.

    As time went on, challenges arose. The hardest and toughest year I faced was my third year. It was the first time I would sleep for an average of 2-3 hours every night. There was so much information to learn. There was also a lot of stress from classmates, friends, family, requirements, and extracurricular activities. I will always remember the time that I talked with my parents through the webcam and my tears just fell. I almost felt like I couldn’t succeed anymore. I was discouraged with myself. Just when I felt like giving up, I realized something. For the whole third year, my health was never affected by the stress I was experiencing. Somehow, God was really giving me the strength to enhance my knowledge, skills, and attitude for every day that I woke up. God had been my hope and will forever be my hope. Whenever I failed at something, I perceived it as an opportunity to do better. Nobody comes into the world perfect. For me, it takes 50% faith and 50% personal effort to accomplish a goal. God listened to my prayers and he gave me the talent to surpass the challenges, but it was up to me how I would utilize these talents for the better.

    The best learning came from both the classroom environment and the related learning experiences. I will surely miss the long lectures and nerve-wrecking quizzes. Most of all, I will miss the related learning experiences. In the beginning, I feared that I would not be able to establish rapport with the clients because of the language barrier. However, after hearing conversations in the dormitory, in the classroom, with friends, classmates, and family, I soon found myself speaking Tagalog! Although I still cannot understand most words, I feel like it was such an accomplishment. I will never forget all the different areas of nursing that I was exposed to. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to provide my service to the individuals who needed the most. Every rotation led to my own personal growth.
    I found my fortitude in the blessings and graces of God. He has truly given me the power to surpass the challenges that I came across and will come across. I cannot express how thankful I am to Him for my family, friends, college Dean, clinical instructors, mentors, advisers, and the other people that I came across with everyday. Everyday I encountered a new challenge, but it was the faith that kept me going.
    Within a span of four years, I was able to come up with my own personal credo that I would like to share with everyone. This is a compilation of my reflections from every year of nursing school and it helped me find more of who I was as a person and as a future nurse. I hope this serves as an inspiration to nursing students.

    1st year- Fundamentals of Nursing, the basis of all: This was the foundational year of all nursing skills, knowledge, and attitude. When life becomes a challenge, look at it step by step, and begin with the central importance.

    2nd year- Maternal & Child Health Nursing, appreciating life as a beautiful gift from God: Respect the ones who have raised you up meaning parents, siblings, friends, and families. These are the people who have nurtured you to be the best you could be whether or not they taught it in the hardest way or in the most loving way. Appreciate the life that God has given you. Live it to the fullest and be the caring hands of Jesus Christ for others.

    3rd year- Medical & Surgical Nursing, the most rigorous yet rewarding year: Accept every challenge as a pavement for growth. Discipline is the best way to deal with the realities of the outside world. Stay positive throughout every hardship and keep faith strong with God. He will never leave your side.

    4th year- Leadership & Management, taking the initiative: Be assertive and take on the lead as inspirational role models. Be the positive change for someone else’s life. God does not count your success, but he counts the effort you have put to help someone else reach their own happiness and success.

    Taking up nursing in a different country has truly taught me to appreciate the diversity of culture. Nursing is a rewarding opportunity and a privilege because of the holistic aspect in preserving life, something so precious and unique to everyone. With all of the hard work, dedication, and passion that I have exerted within the past four years, I am proud to say that I graduated Cum Laude. This profession has been a blessing to me and I am looking forward to becoming a licensed nurse ready to care for and save lives!
    Last edit by Joe V on May 5, '13
    Blanca R, jrsRN07, Miniangel2, and 11 others like this.
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  4. About lyly

    Greetings fellow nursing community! My name is Lyzah. I was born and raised in America and decided to study nursing in the Philippines as way to explore my culture and seek independence. I hope that I can serve as an inspiration to all nursing students because I experienced the difficulties and challenges before. As a fresh graduate, I look forward to becoming a licensed nurse. Thank you for your time!

    lyly joined May '13 - from 'South San Francisco, CA, US'. Posts: 14 Likes: 24; Learn more about lyly by visiting their allnursesPage


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    45 Comments so far...

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    Thanks for your article. As you may know the CA board of nursing is denying graduates from the Philippines from becoming RN. I an glad you explore your culture and obtained your love of nursing. I wish you the best in your nursing career.
    Kandy83 and Esme12 like this.
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    I'm glad you were able to push through during the tough times. My twin sister is currently in the Philippines finishing up summer school there and will begin nursing theory classes. Glad to see you're enjoying the culture there too, that's always a plus to integrate yourself with the milieu.
    jrsRN07 likes this.
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    Nice post and good wishes for your nursing career. Just curious as to why you are posting to a nursing forum in the USA?
  8. 1
    I apologize...it's a global site...not trying to be ignorant...peace.
    Esme12 likes this.
  9. 0
    Love it! Thanks for sharing
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    Hi Ginger's Mom, thank you for reading my article. I actually have been reading about how the CA board of nursing is denying graduates from the Philippines, however I do know some close friends who were able to find a way to study those extra units and become eligible to take the NCLEX. I will do whatever it takes to become a licensed nurse because I know in my heart it is my passion. Thank you!
    Esme12 likes this.
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    Hi Just4Kixs , I hope your twin sister is doing great and studying her best over there! I really do love the culture and I grew to appreciate everything about it. Thanks for the comment, take care and best wishes to your sister.
    Esme12 likes this.
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    Great post! I did the same thing you did in going to the Philippines to study nursing and it was the best decision of my life. While i was reading your article, it made me miss all of my experience there. Yes it was frightening at first, but it was all worth it at the end.
  13. 1
    Hi babygirl3374 , thanks for the comment. My aim was to post it under the General Nursing Students because I wanted to share my experience as a nursing student in the Philippines. I studied in California from pre-school to high school so the past four years in the Philippines have really changed my life positively. As a whole, I think we can all also apply Madeleine Leininger's Transcultural Nursing theory to my experience. Thanks again for your comment, take care.
    Esme12 likes this.


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