Adjusting to a New Environment

takes time, understanding and patience


The first thing that bothers a first-time foreign domestic worker (maid) is being away from familiar faces. When she is homesick, everything else bothers her. If she makes a mistake and gets a ticking off, it is worse.

But if the employer and family are kind and understanding, she will be more productive. During the first months, if the family is understanding, the maid will adjust faster. It is pointless to urge foreign domestic helpers to do everything faster, faster. Coming from a land of high unemployment, one commodity they have in abundance is time and they do not see any sense in hurrying. Instead of urging them to hurry, perhaps it would be better to teach them to be systematic for then they can achieve more in less time.

During this period, the first-time foreign maid is also adjusting to food. Filipinos and other neighbours of ours much prefer rice to porridge. Singaporeans may have porridge or noodles for lunch, but not Filipinos. In their country they even have rice for breakfast, albeit a simple meal of rice fried with a generous helping of garlic, perhaps with a piece of salted fish, somewhat like our nasi lemak. Indonesians are no different except they will rather go hungry than to consume a meat popular among non-Muslim Chinese - pork.

In time foreign domestic workers will come to enjoy the local cuisine. But until then, they would rather have rice.