Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"How Come You've Adjusted So Well?"

Is a question I'm often asked by other Filipinos who move to a foreign land and find themselves having difficulty coping.

Maybe Stephanie answered that when she told me one of the last times I saw her before I left, "You're the kind of girl who'll be fine wherever she is." From my mom I did learn the virtue of resilience and a go-for-it attitude, and I suppose it was reading mountains of books when I was younger that gave me a great hunger for experience.

"The reason I moved back here," a mestiza acquaintance who used to live in the US told me one night in Malate, "is that over there I was just a small fish in a really big pond. Here, I'm somebody, a big fish in a small pond." She was drunk, so I restrained myself from saying that I thought she was being silly. Personally I can be whatever size of guppy and think it's not about the size of the pond, it's how much fun you have exploring it.

Still, given all that, and as I tell anybody who asks, I had a very difficult first few months over here, which was the meat for the essay I wrote for the Palancas. One of the things that helped me through that period was educating myself about why, although I had always thought of myself as a very confident, ultra-capable kind of woman, there I was suddenly feeling insecure, childish, a few times like I was on the verge of some breakdown. Finding the reasons behind the tears helped me get over my own drama.

Aside from Internet research, I was sent some readings by girl friend Kat Olivares, who studied the culture shock phenomenon in graduate school. If you're a Pinoy in a foreign land or you're just curious, I can send you the six PDF files I got from Kat. Just leave me your e-mail address in the comments box. I'll erase the message as soon as I note your address, don't worry.

P.S., a.k.a., HEY, HELENE! You can read the essay and other 2007 Palanca winners over at Literatura 13.

18 comments:

lia said...
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helene said...
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Anonymous said...
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Apol said...

I'll send them this afternoon. HELENE, I left a link for you in the P.S. section of the last entry.

Anonymous said...
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Hilda said...

Congrats!! I read the link of your winning essay, funny though that it seems to me I'm reading my own experience...guess we all share same happines, pains and moments, we are but all on the same boat on this thing called "culture shock". But if i will have to share my own thoughts on this matter I guess my "french" husband too is as foreigner as I am in his own country.. because he is not married to a french but to a filipina...;:-)things will never be the same for him too

Apol said...

Hi, Hilda! Do I have to be a member of your community to try out the recipes in your blog and post comments? And to put a link here? Or can I just go ahead and do these things? Your photos are really really good! And I actually tried a variation of your duck in honey, vinegar, and rosemary... uhm, yup, even if I wasn't a community member :(

pinaybythebay said...
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Chinachix said...
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helene said...

Thanks for the link to your winning piece! Will read it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

im one of your greatest fan here..would appreciate your PDF file..will help..
Arman
UAE

Anonymous said...
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mtan said...

I've been on both sides - lived overseas and then came back. Counselled people about to leave for their own journeys. And I still admit that it was harder for me to adjust coming home than it was to living away. I'm glad you have your blog to share the good and bad times.

Anonymous said...
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KatsMeow said...

Hi Apol! How are you? I wish you could meet my professor, Dr. Weaver. Your blog has comprehensive documentation on the culture shock phenomenon. Anyway, I've been toiling away lately, but as a treat, tonight I'm going to a writing class! I hope this will be the year I can finally touch fiction. Takot kasi ako eh, and even Eric said that I should get fearless tips from you!

Apol said...

Hi, KAT! Been waiting for news about you. Good luck on the writing class. I know what you mean by "takot." Took me forever to find the courage to just do it. And wow! I'd love to one day meet Dr. Weaver. One day... :) Lets' continue this on chat or e-mail!

Cherublu said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi! I found your blog while bloghopping. When you have the time, can you send me the PDF files too? I'm a Pinoy working in Singapore right now :)

Thanks!

My email address is smile0306@yahoo.com