Name: Abby Antonio
Occupation: Managing Director of RSVP Magazine & Show Director
Overseas since: 2009
Can you name some of the countries you’ve lived in since leaving your hometown?
Vietnam only. I’ve lived away from home, but still in the Philippines. 2.5 years on Boracay Island, one of the world’s top 10 party beaches.
What’s your definition of ‘home’?
Good question. I recently just realized the answer to that. Home is a place where I feel not only loved, but needed. It’s a place where I have purpose and importance.
How did you become an expat?
I decided to move to Vietnam to start my company. I don’t consider myself one though. Only because I feel I am somewhat immersed in Vietnamese society… Or maybe that’s only in my head.
Have you discovered any new passions during your time as an expat?
I have the same passions actually. I love to party and enjoy the company of friends. Vietnam has been good to me so I have been able to enjoy all the luxuries I enjoy back home. I have discovered new flavors if that is a passion.
How has being an expat changed your perception of your home country?
Not much. I have a very good grasp of what the Philippines is and what it is to many people. Vietnam is also not that far away so I also don’t have that feeling of homesickness.
Are there any ways in which your adopted country has changed your behavior or thinking significantly?
Vietnam has curbed my temper. People who know me here in Vietnam will probably disagree, given that many think I’m a mad woman running around during events, but I think I’m better at handling it.
Do you have a pet peeve about Vietnam?
It doesn’t rain long enough. In the Philippines when it rains, work is called off.
What’s the most surprising or useful insight you can offer to a newbie expat in your adopted country?
Embrace. Embrace the cultural difference, the defiance to new things, embrace their youth and all things extravagant, embrace all things different about Vietnam. It’s in that space you can learn and can enjoy their company.
What aspect of life as an expat is the most challenging or worrisome for you?
I can’t transfer dollars out of Vietnam.
Can you see yourself living in your adopted country indefinitely?
I’ll go home to Makati, the Philippines eventually. But not now, not while I’m still having fun and enjoying my life here.