The Journey of a Pinay PhD Student

The very first time Annaliza Cainglet went abroad to pursue higher studies, her mother held her tight and shared words of hope and wisdom.

"Sige lang 'gang, this is for your future. After ani, greener pastures na,” her mother said.

(“It will be okay because this is for your future. After all of this, it will only be greener pastures.")

And that fateful day became the start of an at times lonesome yet ultimately profound journey of figuring out her own way. 

She landed in Korea in 2015. There, she spent close to three years earning her Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering at the Mokpo Maritime University.

ROMANTIC BLOSSOMS. Annaliza captures the romance of cherry blossoms blooming in South Korea.

With this big change came distance and the longing that hitches a ride with it. She had to adjust to the new environment and the new people around her.

"The language barrier was one of the biggest challenges for me. Good thing there’s a thriving Filipino community in Mokpo," she said. 

That familiar community somehow made things easier. But it was always her family back home that brought her comfort. 

“Every time someone answers me when I video call with my family, I always feel at ease,” she said.

Annaliza treats her time in Korea as one massive growth spurt— emotionally and mentally. Yet, there are some things she regrets.

“It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to form great friendships with some locals there,” she said. "I guess I was too preoccupied by my studies and missing home to open myself to the culture."

After completing her master's, Annaliza went on a new life changing journey. She braved the biting cold of Finland and enrolled in the University of Oulu for her PhD in Environmental Engineering with a Major in Wastewater Treatment.  

Her stay in Europe has been the most rewarding so far. From foraging for cloudberries in Finnish swamps to getting the chance to regard gothic German architecture and presenting a paper in a conference in Greece, she is now opening herself to new experiences this time around. 

JUICY TREATS. Annaliza went foraging at Finnish swamps filled with cloudberries. 

Learning new hobbies is also a great way to ease homesickness, she finds. Now, she’s into baking and cooking. Into mountain and wall climbing, as influenced by her Canadian beau who is also a PhD candidate. And into traveling and finding wonders in places she only ever dreamed of when she was young. 

Annaliza discovered that travel is an experience worth splurging over. As for her: buying a nice dress or a new phone can always wait, but experiences can never be replicated. 

NEW HEIGHTS. Climbing became a new passion for Annaliza in Finland.

Through her journeys, she has met incredible people and discovered hidden gems walking around Europe’s cobblestone-lined cities. She learned how straightforward the Baltic people are. She has been to the dreamy landscapes of Switzerland. She partied it up in Belgium. She met a real life Santa in the Christmas Village in Lapland. And still, there are a lot more things she wants to do. 

UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL. Annaliza’s visit in Switzerland is one of her most treasured memories.

For years now, her life has been a series of constant movements, of moving away to new places and moving up the academic ladder— and she’s proud of the profound growth she found along the way. 

As she finishes her PhD, Annaliza is still on a journey to find her greener pastures. Wherever that is, only time will know, she says. 

"Finding my greener pastures was my initial purpose. But now, I see it as not only being secured financially but also having healthy relationships with loved ones and being able to experience the world," she said. 

To get more travel stories and inspiration, follow @thetravelclubph on Facebook and Instagram. And you can also share your worthwhile and enriching journeys with us by tagging us on your posts!

Posted on 09/18/2023 featured 0 204

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