By Laura van Poucke

April 2016

My parents and brother came over and we got to travel together to the wonderful Coron in Palawan. I was very excited to be reunited with them and to finally get out of the city! It’s by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I felt like living inside a Google screensaver for six days.

The days flew past, and very soon I was horrible Manila/QC again, which took me days to get used to again. I looked very much forward to visiting peaceful Zambales but it got cancelled last minute, so I was disappointed. Luckily I’m flexible (you definitely have to be if you come here) so I just got back to work for AGHAM.

The weather station I’m working on is making progress: the electronic part and the wiring are done and it is working, hooray! Yet, the rest of the prototype will probably be made in Belgium, since I can’t take it with me on the plane and it’s very hard to collect materials here. But that’s no problem. I calculated some time for this after my return home.

The other days seem the same: getting up, commuting to office, and commuting home. You have to be here to experience what it’s like.

A conference about El Niño

But at least I can commute on my own now. I am enjoying my newfound freedom and it feels so much better not having to ask someone to accompany me. Sadly, my days are also filled with headaches and stomach aches since a couple of weeks ago. I guess it’s the climate, environment, and food. But I’ll survive. I just forgot that next to my mind, my body too has to adapt.

That said, you better prepare your lungs when coming over. Last week, I fainted inside a jeepney as it was stuck in traffic. It made me realise that this city really needs a radical change. It’s just unhuman to be around here. Next to the lack of human rights and the poverty, people have to stand an extremely unhealthy environment every day just to have a chance of getting a job. I’d like to put the President in their shoes so he knows what it’s like.

Soon, I’ll be starting my last month with a double feeling: I really liked my stay here: the independence, the lifestyle, the Filipinos, the sun, the gorgeous country I haven’t seen as much as I’d liked, the change in environment, and the change in myself. On the other side, I’m also looking forward to home: being reunited with my family and friends, medical reasons, working more productively on my thesis project, the food, the climate, the loneliness… But overall: I miss the Philippines already, and I still have a month to go!

Laura van Poucke, Industrial Product Design student at Howest University shares her experiences and insights during her internship in the Philippines.