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Reimus Josef Calvez – Taking a Chance Working Abroad in Malaysia

Dive: Adventurer - Expat
Description: Living abroad for 6 months or more
Level: Level 1
Level Requirements: Has lived in a foreign country for at least 6 consecutive months
Certified On: May 16, 2021

Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).

Moose Calvez

Name: Moose Calvez Break Diving Level: Recruit Number of Certified Dives: 1 From: Philippines In: Philippines

1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?

It was the year 2015 and I was an SAP Application Engineer for Star Cruises headquartered in Manila, Philippines. One day, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) made a huge decision to layoff the Manila team and create another SAP team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where the main IT team is. They gave all of us separation pay, however they needed someone who understood the overall system integration to be able to train a new team and lead future projects for the cruise ships. It was a huge surprise that the top management picked the newest guy on the team (me) instead of the senior engineers. I was nail-biting for days because what they offered was a permanent post, a leap from an SAP Software Engineer position to a hybrid role of project management & digital transformation, and most of all, a dive to leave my home country.

But you see, life in the Philippines isn’t easy-going. I was doing overtime for no extra pay as I was hired not as an employee but as a consultant for projects. Traffic was horrendous. On a normal day, I would travel 2 hours to get to work and another 2 hours going back every single day. But I loved my job no matter how challenging it was because of the achievement I felt from being responsible for things to work and solving business problems, especially for the complex hospitality business of cruise ships.

A part of me knew this was the break I was looking for and the other part of me was so afraid of treading an unknown territory alone. In the end, my mind resolved my dilemma with this powerful question — Assuming that both ends are extremely tough with their own set of challenges, which will give me the maximum gains?

So I pursued this dive to be an expat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2. How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?

From the day the CTO made the announcement, it took about 4 months for everything to get sorted out and leave for Malaysia. It was fairly quick as the position was urgent and they had to lock the deal before our contract with the Manila office expired. The HR in Malaysia took care of the paperwork and the HR in the Philippine office took care of the visa documents.

Arlene & Cholo, my project managers at that time, whom I am eternally grateful for and are still my good friends, told me later on that they spoke highly of me to the CTO and to the stakeholders in Malaysia and that made everything simple and clean. They even taught me how to negotiate during an interview to get the maximum pay for a position!

I still remember vividly being in the NAIA Philippine Airport with trembling knees and my hands shaking as I sat waiting for my flight. It was a whirlwind of events and I realized that I didn’t even have time to say goodbye to my friends and other relatives. When my parents dropped me off, I saw them teary-eyed as they waved proudly of the new adventure I was embarking on. But it was only at that moment with my passport and boarding pass in hand that everything sunk in. I cried.

I was leaving the Philippines.

3. What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

Hard is an understatement! It was definitely an extreme culture shock as it was a 360 degree radical change everywhere for me. But it was also extemely fun!

It’s true when people say that traveling as a tourist is very different than living in the said country because assimilation is a bridge to connect to the new culture. While Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful city, it is also a melting pot of languages, cultures, and religions. Their native language is Bahasa Melayu and is mostly spoken by every local along with English as their second language. The majority of the population of Malaysia consisted of Muslims, Chinese, Indians, and then foreigners, respectively.

It took me a few months to get used to sitting in a multi-cultural office where Chinese Malaysians generally spoke colloquial Manglish (Mandarin-English), Muslims generally spoke Bahasa, then get on conference calls with our counterparts in Hong Kong who were generally speaking mixed English-Cantonese and I was the only Filipino! It was insanely perplexing for about 3 months but also so much fun to learn and understand the different idiosyncrasies of their individual cultures.

4. What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

It was easy to get by, survive, find a very good apartment and find directions since most of the transactional conversations are still in English, for Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city of Malaysia. Most of all, it was easy to make new friends because the vast majority are self-aware of their mixed culture.

5. What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

I made a huge mistake by overestimating the cash I brought when I left the Philippines. Before you leave, consider the foreign exchange and looking at the going rates for apartments prior to leaving your origin to avoid the perplexing scenario where you may not be able to cover the deposit terms of the condo apartment you would live as well as budget your daily expenses until you earn your first salary in the new currency.

Homesickness will get to you, absolutely. Everyone gets it and it’s the first stages of cultural assimilation. It’s something like missing your security blanket and the nostalgia of your old comfort zone. Acknowledge it but don’t succumb to it. I want you to remember that it’s part of your personal growth.

The best advice I can give is to remember the Big Why when you decided to pursue this dive of being an expat and then anchor yourself on it until you achieve that goal. You’ll be surprised what new adventures lie ahead when you do.

6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

Downloading the Meetup mobile app. It is a handy option if you are seeking new friends outside your circle of colleagues. When you feel like you’re alone in a foreign country like Malaysia, this app proves to you that you aren’t, and finding a community who understands how you feel is a very important to guide to help make you feel safe.

And of course, Break Diving.

Resource 1: Break Diving - Come and make friends from all over the world here to make your expat life easier.

Resource 2: Meetup - It is a handy option if you are seeking new friends outside your circle of colleagues.

Resource 3: -

Resource 4: -

Resource 5: -

7. Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level).

The Adventure of an all-expense paid cruise of course!

Part of the job was to train teams onshore and then teams on the ships for more efficient business operations using SAP. The first ship my project team implemented was with the Star Pisces fleet (and then more ships in the future). It was an amazing experience to be treated like VIPs! We were told that it was rare to meet head office colleagues and they were very excited to meet us. Some of the highlights while we were going around were seeing the open ocean from the bridge with the captain, all access to the different decks to meet the chefs behind the kitchen, very hospitable service crews who were mostly fellow Filipinos, the hotel and store managers explaining to us how the rest of the business ran on the ship. Oh, and trying out different restaurants and cuisines on board too!

But since we were there mainly for work, we were doing workshops and training at night when the operations were less busy. There were some heated debates on how to run things smoothly especially the paying passengers who deserve the best service and value for their well-spent vacation. More than anything, the adventure was very humbling because I was able to visualize how huge the impact of my work was for the transformation of a complex business of a cruise line.

8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?

Sharing some photos of Malaysia, I call my second home. Where my best friends live and the beginning of so many adventures.

9. Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive? If Yes, Why? If Not, Why Not?

I can say that after this experience, I’ve become a natural adventurer. I’ve lived as an expat since 2015 and I would like to get recognized for those experiences too. I would love to share more of my adventure stories and help others out!

10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?

No Rules. No Excuses. No Regrets.

Certificate photo:

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Moose Calvez is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Adventurer - Expat - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

Certificate number: 80

The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!

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