Liana: Mango Mornings
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to the Philippines, etc.
Originally from a small farming town in Northern California, I’ve spent the past 10 years in Southern California, where I earned my BA in Communications and started my PR and Marketing career. During that time I met my now-husband, who is from the Philippines. We visited his home country in 2009 and again in 2011. That’s when we decided to move here to try a new chapter of our lives. I arrived in January 2012 and haven’t looked back since!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
A marketing geek at heart, I already knew I’d blog about my expat experience when we decided to move here. Blogging is a convenient and creative way to update friends and family, without plastering it all over Facebook. Plus, it’s allowing me to reach new people.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Time For a Shawarma Adventure. I enjoy blogging about everyday life– and we visit this shawarma restaurant at least once a week, so it definitely deserved a spot on Mango Mornings. Plus, shawarma is just awesome!
Tell us about the ways your new life in the Philippines differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I visited the Philippines twice before moving here, so I already knew what I was getting into - the heat, the traffic, the mosquitos and cockroaches…the poverty. I’ve learned to look past all of that and truly see what this beautiful country has to offer.
My life here actually isn’t too different from life back home. I still go to work, hang out with friends, and see movies. I can still grab an iced latte at Starbucks or a burger at McDonalds. Best of all, with my new tropical surroundings, it feels I’m on a permanent vacation!
My transition here has been eased by the fact that everybody speaks English and that we live with family. Of course it also helps that your dollar goes far too. Local restaurants and services are very inexpensive. For example, I got my iMac fixed for just 1,000 pesos, roughly US$25. On the other hand, my favorite American shampoo brand is twice as expensive. So, it’s just a matter of eating and shopping locally. After all, why move abroad if you’re not willing to try new things?
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in the Philippines? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Towels! You know those nice oversized, plush towels you can find for $6.99 at Target? I wish I stocked up on those, because I can’t find any like that here. And, when you have to shower two or three times a day, you’re going to want nice towels.
On a more serious note, I wish I had a better action plan for our arrival. I was too busy focusing on how I’d wrap up loose ends in the States, that I didn’t think about how I’d do things like open a bank account or open a cell phone line. As a result, some of the settling in processes have been rushed and stressful.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
From shrimp paste to ox tongue, I’ve had my share of exotic foods here; but nothing could prepare me for balut – a fertilized duck embryo that's boiled alive and eaten in the shell. One night out at the bars, a street vendor was selling it. My friends convinced me to try it, saying “how can you live in the Philippines and not try our national food!” How could I say no to that? So, I went for it. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say my reaction involved gagging and some tears. After that was over, my friends laughed, saying “I can’t believe you actually ate it….we don’t even eat that stuff!”
Gee, thanks guys!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in the Philippines?
- Come with an open mind and try not to be turned off by the heat, traffic, and poverty. From the people to the beaches to the city skyline, this is a beautiful place and you will soon learn to love it.
- Have an action plan so you can hit the ground running upon your arrival.
- Filipinos know how to have a good time and enjoy life. After all, their new tourism slogan is “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Learn to just go with the flow and have fun. You better brush up on your karaoke skills too!
How is the expat community in the Philippines? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The Philippines is full of expats. In fact, our neighbor is from Boston! I haven’t done much to reach out to more fellow expats, so that’s why I’m glad I came across Internations.org…what a fantastic resource! I’m already signed up for my first meetup.
How would you summarize your expat life in the Philippines in a single, catchy sentence?
From meeting new faces to soaking up the beaches, nightlife, and historical landmarks, I couldn’t ask for a better place to enjoy expat life!