Welcome to the blog!
My family and I moved to the Philippines in 2009. I came with a healthy sense of adventure and a husband who already spoke Tagalog. When we arrived, it was amazing. A. Maz. Ing. Like living in a vacation. I had househelpers who did my cleaning and laundry. A driver to take me where ever I wanted to go. A pool. A big house (that we couldn’t afford to furnish and was slowly falling apart, but hey, it was big!). We bopped around in our free time seeing all the things there was to see.
And then the shine wore off. It wasn’t that anything bad happened, per se. Though, I did have one Very Bad Day that we don’t really talk about, because it was Very Bad. For the most part, though, it was just that it was different. Everything was different. Things that I thought had no business being different were different, like the size of my oven and that Mabelline has an attended counter at the department store so I couldn’t just browse the new line without having someone standing at my shoulder the whole time. I was getting kind of sick of always having to have a driver take me places, and I had to stop my helpers from cleaning my bathroom by throwing buckets of soapy water everywhere. I was assured the language barrier would be minor, but no one warned me about how extreme the cultural barrier would be. I was sad. I missed my friends and I missed Target and I missed libraries and I missed getting in the car and popping over to the supermarket for a few things without getting an ulcer from the traffic.
Most of the things that were frustrating me were not bad. They were just different. And they clearly worked, because millions of people who live here manage to bake cookies and buy make-up and live ulcer-free. I just needed to learn how things work here. The more I knew, the easier life got. The number of Very Bad Days became few and far between. And now, this is home. I have no desire to leave. I am quite happy and comfortable here.
The longer we’re here, the more I’m put in touch with people who are facing a transfer to the Philippines for work, or are newly arrived and losing their minds. I love helping these folks out, because I do love it here so much and want them to get past the frustration here faster than I did so they can start loving it, too. But, I find I’m answering a lot of the same questions over and over again. So, I thought I’d start answering them in blog form, in the hopes that people who don’t even know what they don’t know will be able to find the answers they are going to need.