I was thinking today about people who move to the Philippines. Particularly in my mind was a European fellow that I met recently. He moved to the Philippines to live, but he has only been here a couple of months. This morning, he came to mind, and I kept thinking about his attitude. He knows everything. Or should I say that he thinks he knows everything?
When I met him in a mall a few weeks ago, he kept telling me a lot of things about the Philippines and the Culture of Filipinos. In addition to living here for a couple of months, he had been here a few years ago for 2 weeks vacation. He was not married to a Filipina, but had a Filipina girlfriend. So, really his experience here was pretty limited. Yet, he knew all the answers and even argued with me if I felt that what he was saying was not really correct. Now, I’ve lived here for 7 years, and I’ve been visiting the Philippines for 17 years regularly. I know a little bit about the country and the culture here. I am not an expert, and I am happy to listen to others if they want to share their opinions. It’s a good way for me to learn more.
As I thought about this, I started thinking about myself. Before I moved here, I did some e-mailing with people who lived here already, sort of got some tips from them about life here and such. Some of what they said I disagreed with. I thought I knew. There are a couple of things I’ve learned in the last 7 years though:
- Our preconceived notions of the Philippines are not always accurate. In fact, they are probably usually not accurate.
- Coming here for vacation is nothing like living here. While you can count your vacation experiences as an indicator of what you might expect when you live here, your experience living here will never be the same as what you experience when you come for vacation.
- It’s always good to listen to anybody who has lived here and see what they have to say. The information they provide to you may come in quite handy.
As I thought about all this, I was amazed to realize that in many ways, 7 years ago, I was the same as my European friend that I recently met. I’m glad that over time, I’ve been able to relinquish my preconceived notions, listen to advice from others, and improve my life because of it.
Funny how we are all expert-expats, even when we have little information to base it on, don’t you think?