Searching for Paradise Part Two: Preparing to Leave

In this installment, the author talks about the process of moving to paradise.
by | October 05, 2016

This is the second part of Searching for Paradise: Manila to Maldives, the author’s personal account of living her dream of moving to the beautiful island as the resident yoga teacher at a luxury resort.


So I had just scored this amazing job offer, and I finally decided to take leap and allow the net—er, hammock—to appear and catch me.

Preparing for the actual leap gave me so much anxiety, though, and I thought, “Oh, this must be because I don’t know what I’m doing. A little research should help!” But it seemed like the more I researched about the procedures, the pros, and the cons, and the more people I spoke to, the more questions I had, and the more my head began to spin.

A Done Deal

After a few Skype interviews with the Spa Director, I was passed on to Human Resources for another set of interviews. While Skype is great, I preferred to have things in writing so for proper documentation, I would send emails recapping what was discussed. This allowed me to review the asks-and-gives anytime I wanted, and in case I needed to refer to them in the future, I would know where to look.

After agreeing to their terms and sending the signed contract, I had to go about collating and submitting my other requirements, as the company needed these to kick start the process from their end. Getting all the paperwork together may take some time, especially if you don’t already have them on file. I had to plan things carefully, as I was needed to report for work ASAP.

Legwork and Pencil-Pushing

One of the documents I needed to get was a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance suitable for international travel. I initially thought this would be easy, as I had just applied for one the year before without any trouble whatsoever. This time though, my surname had a “hit”—meaning, someone with the same name had been up to no good, and now they had to look into my file to make sure there were no associations. This would significantly slow down the processing of my papers, as I was told it would take around two weeks to get my clearance. After reasoning with them and saying I needed to leave by a certain date, it was shortened to one week.

In the end, I had to present the signed contract, NBI clearance, and a notarized copy of my passport, educational certificates, and previous employment contracts for them to begin the whole work visa process. After these are sent to the company, you wait for their agency to contact you for the next steps as they will guide you through everything from the POEA to immigration.

Never-ending Despedidas

Between shuttling about town to get my requirements, I found myself trying to squeeze in various lunches, dinners, and coffee dates to bid my good friends and family farewell. As time went by, even breakfast became a time for catching up, because when your other friends see despedida photos on Facebook, you’re sure to get messages saying, “How come you made time for so-and-so and not for us? We want to see you too!” So be prepared for weight gain from food comas as well as the occasional hangover.

Immigration Horror Stories

As the date of my departure drew near, I felt another surge of anxiety as I had been hearing an increasing number of stories about how difficult it was to get through immigration. Some people were turned away and unable to leave altogether because they didn’t have all the documents, while others were interrogated for quite a bit, to the point of almost missing their flights.

When I did get to immigration though, the officer in charge just looked at me, said, “So you’re going to Maldives?” This was it. Would I be able to leave? My hands went cold.

“Yes,” I replied, smiling.

She looked me up and down, and then stamped my passport, saying, “Enjoy.”

At 10PM that evening, I arrived in Male, the capital of Maldives. The first thing I noticed was how clear and blue the water was—even at night! Arriving was one thing, adjusting to life on the island was… well, something else.#

Joanne left the corporate rat race for hosting on TV, and eventually left that to pursue teaching yoga full time. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 500 (ERYT500) level instructor recognized by Yoga Alliance and is currently the resident yoga instructor of a luxury resort in the Maldives. She enjoys scuba diving, running, weight training, wakeboarding, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, and playing football during her free time.

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