Filipino Expat Living in United Arab Emirates - Interview with JM Kayne

Published: 17 Jan at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,United Arab Emirates
JM Kayne is a Filipina expat from Cebu Philippines and currently resides in Abu Dhabi UAE. She is a Teacher by profession and in Abu Dhabi she works as a Training Officer of an Oil & Gas company. She is also the Editor-in-chief of her community magazine called CFFL-The Vineyard Magazine. #InMyHeartJMKaynesBlog is her personal space wherein she shares any thing about life, travel, food, faith and all others stories in her heart thus called #InMyHeart. :) JM Kayne's expat blog is called In my HEART (see listing here)

I am JM Kayne; a teacher and a creative.
I am JM Kayne; a teacher and a creative.

Here's the interview with JM Kayne...


Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from Cebu, Philippines

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm currently based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

How long have you lived in United Arab Emirates and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been in Abu Dhabi for 9+ years and probably staying for 5 years more.

Me and my husband whom I call Kokobear. We've been enjoying this expat life together for 8 years.
Me and my husband whom I call Kokobear. We've been enjoying this expat life together for 8 years.
Why did you move to United Arab Emirates and what do you do?
My cousin offered a job for me and I was curious of a life outside the country, so I took that leap in 2008.

Did you bring family with you?
No, I came alone and joined my cousin, but after 2 years, I met my ex-boyfriend now husband and we now both enjoy this place.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Living in Abu Dhabi UAE was a bit difficult, maybe during the first year. I often get homesick. Thankfully social media has the power to connect us with our loved ones. Adjusting to the hot weather and to many different nationalities in the workplace was a challenge too. Though after a while you get used to it and start to love being around them.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was easy to socialize, foreign friends at work have these gatherings around the office and they usually invite me. Of course I also meet fellow Filipinos and I joined a church community called Catholics for Family and Life where I met my God's gift (husband) :)

Osmeña Peak Cebu - One of the many adventures  with Kokobear and I also shared this story on my blog.
Osmeña Peak Cebu - One of the many adventures with Kokobear and I also shared this story on my blog.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Abu Dhabi is home to many enjoyable places, events, historical sites and more. I'd say these are my top 5 places to visit: Emirates Palace, Grand Mosque, Corniche Beach, Qasr Al Hosn & Ferrari World! You could also enjoy many coffee shops and malls.

What do you enjoy most about living in United Arab Emirates?
I often associate Abu Dhabi like home, feels like it's UAE's version of Cebu. Its not as fast-paced as Dubai, instead the capital offers a more chill and calm lifestyle.

How does the cost of living in United Arab Emirates compare to home?
It is somehow way better. Enough to survive monthly expenses, able to save, invest and also send remittances back home. I'd say I am able to experience a bit of luxury here compared way back in Cebu. It feels easier to buy a steak meal here without being guilty.

How to - This is one of the Public Service blogpost I created on how to get your marriage certificate attested.
How to - This is one of the Public Service blogpost I created on how to get your marriage certificate attested.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in United Arab Emirates?
Not really negative, but I feel sad that some expats aren't considerate about the nation's culture. Others tend to show too much skin when they know that this is a Muslim country. I personally think that you have to show some respect even in the simplest way.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to United Arab Emirates, what would it be?
Be updated with the current news and issues around your place, at times you might break some rules simply because you haven't made yourself aware of the latest laws passed. Here in the UAE they often pass and implement laws rightaway. So keeping track of the things happening around pays off.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Losing a job is probably the hardest. Being an expat requires you to get a visa, being sponsored by a company and lately it has been a challenge. Different from being at home, you don't have the deadline into how many months you'd be unemployed, but because of visa requirements abroad, you seemed to be always on tiptoe whenever your 1 month leeway (after cancellation) is almost at the end. These are hassle and stressful days when no job is yet to be acquired.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Not quite sure how to answer this for now. At the moment, our 5 year plan is still being here in the Emirates. So, for now I guess I'll just say that I'll keep saving for the future plans.

Blogger Award. As blogger, I have been a member of many blogging groups and this year I've grabbed 2 awards including this.
Blogger Award. As blogger, I have been a member of many blogging groups and this year I've grabbed 2 awards including this.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. First, make sure you are connected with your faith. Whatever religion you are, the Emirates is somehow open for other faithful denomination. Being away from home is sad and sometimes difficult, so finding your faithful tribe such as a church community will help you cope with that emotion.
  2. Read and know more about the place so that the culture shock won't be that much. I personally did that before heading to Abu Dhabi. So it eases that challenge.
  3. Don't lose your contact with home. As an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) we tend to be so busy with work and social life that sometimes we forgot to set time to call or message our loved ones. We have to be reminded that the very reason why we went away is for these people. So keep that connection.
  4. Avoid loans and credit cards. It has been one of the major reasons why a lot of expats are in jail for not being able to pay their debts. Live within your means. I know, the shopping malls are like "sale everyday" moment, but know your why. Why you're here, why you're doing it.
  5. Respect the culture and be a law-abiding citizen.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog originally started back in the Philippines during my college years and when I arrived here in Abu Dhabi, I have made it somewhat an online diary sharing my personal experiences of the life abroad. Right now I share about the activities, food and some public service how to --- blogs related to the life of a Filipino expat. Also, I have started collaborating with a few brands and open to sponsored blogs too.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
They can like and follow my blog's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/inmyheart or they could follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/jm_kayne

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJM Kayne is a Filipino expat living in United Arab Emirates. Blog description: The stories in my heart
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