Tropa: A Trip Around The World with Flight Attendant, Kristelle Batchelor

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I was thrilled to have connected with Kristelle over Instagram a few months ago, since her name has been so familiar to me these past few yearsKristelle and I share a wide range of very good mutual friends, all of whom studied in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. These mutual friends of ours spoke very highly of Kristelle to me and suggested that I connect with her as soon as I could
 
Unfortunately, as circumstances would have it, I'm a few months too late into personally meeting Kristelle, as she had moved to San Diego, California. A former resident of Queens, New York, Kristelle has decided to leave the hustle and bustle of New York City life, and surrender to one that is quieter...and on the opposite end of the country.
 
In any case, I am more than honored that she trusted me with her story, which I am excited to share with you today.
 
To those who wish to brave the fabulous yet essential career of being a flight attendant, this one is for you. To all our fellow Filipino flight attendants braving the airspace to serve and protect passengers all over the world (especially during this COVID-19 pandemic), maraming salamat po
 
As Kristelle puts it, you have earned your wings


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SSS: How long have you been living in the US?
 
KB: I lived in New York City for three years, but I recently moved to San Diego, California. I've been living in the US for 4 years now, and it's been great so far.
SSS: Can you tell us a little bit more about what you do?
KB: I currently work as a flight attendant, but I'm actually on leave now because of COVID-19. I'm a domestic flight attendant. Since I'm based in New York or New Jersey, I also get the chance to
fly internationally, especially to Europe.
 
SSS: Before your career as a flight attendant, what was life like in Manila?
KB: I actually have a background in journalism. That's what I studied in the Philippines. For a while, I was working on TV as a court-side reporter for three years. But it has always been a childhood dream of mine to become a flight attendant because my mom was a flight attendant for many years. I grew up seeing her travel to all these places, [and because of that], I've always wanted to be [a flight attendant]. 

When I went here, there wasn't a lot of opportunities for me to delve into journalism, so I thought I could try being a flight attendant since I have a customer service background anyway.

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SSS: What are some things that excite you about being a flight attendant?
KB: One thing that excites me the most about being a flight attendant is being able to see all these places. Imagine, my usual work week would be like—I would get sent to Germany, and then at the end of the week I would be in London. On my best weeks, that's how it is.

So I have my name-bar. I wear it on my uniform, and it's a good reminder that I have my wings. It's a reminder for me that I love what I'm doing. This is the career I see myself retiring in.
Hopefully, the aviation industry would recover soon enough from this pandemic. I can't wait to fly again.

SSS: How was your transition from being a Manila girl to that of a New Yorker?
KB: When I first moved to the US 4 years ago, I was really culture shocked. I was living in Queens, New York, which is a very multi-racial community. There's a lot of Filipinos there as well, so it wasn't hard to fit in. I felt like every Filipino knew everyone—or at least, most of them do. New York City is such a melting pot that it's not hard to identify yourself with other people. I love learning from different cultures, tasting their food, hearing their language. You can be on the subway and hear 5 different languages being spoken at the same time. I love that mesh of culture.
 
Also because of my work, I get to fly with different people, get to work with people of different ethnicities. I feel like it is such a good place to be in, especially since I am half Filipino and half Puerto Rican— although, I would say that I am more Filipino since I was born there and grew-up there.
 
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SSS: How is it like being a member of the BIPOC community here in New York City?
KB: So far, to be honest, I feel like I'm one of the luckier ones who hasn't really experienced racial discrimination—or at least, nothing to my face. I'm pretty sure I experienced it at some point but nothing really blatant. Now that I moved to San Diego, there's a huge Filipino population here. It's been really smooth so far.

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SSS: If you weren't a flight attendant, what would you be doing now?
KB: Well, if I could do something else, I would definitely go back to journalism, but through my own small ways, I try to [mix] it with my actual work. I have started my blog with the support and motivation of my boyfriend who bought me a domain a year ago. I'm starting to blog again, which I haven't been doing in a long while. And I love it — I still love the process of writing. If I could make a career out of it—maybe a side career— I would definitely do it.
 
SSS: What's one memorable thing that has happened to you during your stay here in the US?
KB: I was working as a temp worker back in New York 3 years ago, I was being assigned to different offices by my agency. One time, I was working at Drew Barrymore's office, which is located in the Empire State Building. I didn't expect to see her that day, but I went to the restroom and there she was—beside me, washing her hands like the normal person that she is. I just started freaking out because I wanted to take a picture with her but I didn't bring my phone because I left it on my desk. So that was crazy— just, like, spazzing in front of Drew Barrymore.
 
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SSS: What's some advice you'd like to give your younger self?
KB:
Don't give up.
Eventually things are gonna get so good in the US that you won't want to even leave. It's a good decision that you took that risk to see the bigger world out there.
 
SSS: Any advice to everyone reading this?
KB: To everyone that has that American dream and dreams of living abroad and working [somewhere else]: Maximize all your resources. Everything can be researched online. It's easier to find opportunities. And don't give-up on your dreams. Even if we're like, in our mid-20s now, I feel like we're still so young and are still able to do a lot.

Watch Kristelle's IGTV feature on our Instagram. You can follow her on Instagram @kristellebatchelor, and read more about her adventures on her blog, The Batchelorette Life.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kristelle.

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