So I have known Fritz for around ten months now. Today is his birthday so it seems like a good time to chat about him. He turns eighty-nine today and he gets to spend his birthday in the hospital with a broken hip, surely plotting his own demise.
Looking for a secure, well paid job in Phnom Penh can be a daunting and self-effacing experience. In a country where the average worker earns around $50 a month, it seems rather greedy to be on the hunt for a gig that will pay many more times than that but show me a westerner that will work for $50 a month and I will bend over and show you flying pink pigs. If you do not come into the country on an expatriate package with all the trappings attached, you are just another western number looking for a job.
In the United States, when moving from one city to another or even one state to another 3,000 miles away it is not a big deal usually. The hardest part is just making a phone call to get the utilities turned on and maybe finding a grocery store close to your new residence.
Moving to the Philippines from the U.S. or another 1st world country can be the most challenging and also frustrating experience imaginable.
Anyone moving to the Philippines from the states that decides to have internet service in their home or business will quickly discover “you’re not in Kansas anymore.” From the Northern tip of Luzon island to the southern end of Mindanao the quality of service is about the same. A big fat zero.
Shopping for groceries and other basic needs in the Philippines is an adventure in confusion and also overpricing for the newcomer. Often times, you will end up overpaying even after many years of living here if not careful.
At home in the States and most other countries, a grocery store is set up with every isle holding items classified by the type of products available including sub categories such as generic, diet, sale, and size etc.
Whenever I give a presentation on Culture Shock, I try not to speak a lot at the participants. Instead I allow them to share and, as we discuss what Culture Shock means to them, we discover how different each Culture Shock experience is for everyone.
In the United States and perhaps other places it is common practice to go to a neighbors house to borrow a cup of sugar if you run out. You might even go to a neighbor and borrow screwdriver or wrench if needed. But that’s about all.
Here in the Philippines most all people, friends and even those you do not know are quite willing to lend items to anyone who is in need. A few good examples of this is if you are going to the store and can’t or don’t want to walk for some reason, someone will loan you a bicycle. That’s all well and good; but how about something major?
Before I became an expat I never thought of writing as something I can do on a regular basis and as something I can enjoy. In fact, writing was never my strong point… well, according to my 6th grade Soviet teacher anyway.
Have you ever noticed that it’s often much easier to spend money overseas than at home? For instance I had no qualms about spending 500 rubles for lunch in Russia but I think twice about spending the same amount in dollars in the US. Even the Euro – which carries more value than the USD – has been easier to part with than my own home currency.
What makes foreign money different? Or, rather, why do I react differently to expenditures enumerated in “green” bills?
Growing up I never had an opportunity to travel and see the world. I was born in a country that didn’t let its people go abroad and thus I was effectively cut off from anything that lay beyond the borders of my homeland. Naturally, as it is with all human beings, the prohibited became an fascination — and I wasn’t of, course, the only one fascinated with seeing what lie beyond. Most of my generation was just as infatuated as I was.