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Getting Readjusted to America

Well it has been three weeks I have been back in the USA and here are things I have had to readjust to, and thought I would discuss some of them. One this is the language. You might think I am joking but it is kind of strange hearing English in most places. I am an observant person and at times, my observations are from my ears instead of my eyes. In the Philippines, if I was close enough to someone to hear clearly, I would listen to see if I could understand some of the words being said and see if I could sense the topic of conversation. Here, in most cases, I hear English. I have to try to not listen or make sure the people talking do not realize I am eavesdropping.

Another item is the currency. To me, being an American, I have felt the denominations of the currency, in America made more sense in which denominations are paper, and which is coin. Here, the coins are .01, .05, .10, .25. Yes, there are .50 and even dollar coins, but they are not commonly used. Then in the paper money, there is a $1, $5, $10, $20 $50 and $100. With the Philippine pesos, the coins are .01, .05, .25, 1, 5, and 10 peso coins. Then with paper currency there is 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. While researching information, it turns out there is a 5 and 10 peso bill, but I have never seen them. The thing that is so different here now back in the US is not the denominations as much as the size. When you need to pay, you reach for the dollar amount from your bills and the change from your coins, or just give bills and let them make the change.

In the Philippines, you do not use sentimo coins often. Many times when you pay, they round the sentimo to a peso and usually in your favor. The sentimo coins are small but the peso coins are larger and heavier than US coins. The one peso is about the size of a US quarter and the 5 and 10 peso coin is the size of a half dollar. Also at times it get confusing where to grab your money, for instance if you need to pay 30 pesos. You need a 10 peso coin and a 20 peso bill if you are paying with exact change. Another fact I found out during research is that they will be phasing in new designed currency. They are phasing in new paper money starting December 2010 and new coins in 2012. This is to decrease the chances for counterfeiting.

Another item to readjust is driving. As I mentioned in a previous article is that I bought a scooter. This little motorcycle type vehicle only reaches a speed of 35 MPH under normal conditions. If I am going up a slight grade, the speed will decrease and if going down a grade it can go faster. With this slow speed, I have not had anyone honk their horns or try to push me off the road. Also, driving around I see driving speeds faster than in the Philippines but most people follow the laws. I have not seen cars turning right from the left lanes, or gridlock at intersections. Over all most drivers are much more courteous then back in Davao.

One of my favorite but daunting items to adjust to is eating. When out during the day in Davao and we or I got hungry, at times it was the thought “I am bored with the few choices, so where do we go?” Now there are so many choices. There are many fast food places, private restaurants and different cuisines. Friday I went to Quiznos, which is a sandwich shop that grills their sandwiches. Saturday I had a
Carne Asada Burrito made from fresh grilled beef. I added nice thick firm sour cream, not the loose pourable version you would get in the Philippines. Sunday while running around shopping, I had a burger from my favorite west coast chain, In-and-out Burger famous for their Double-Double. This is double the burger, double the cheese. They also make their French fries from fresh potatoes, not from a bag of frozen fries. I had a Double-double with grilled onions and French fries.

Last for this article is a good but upsetting item, TV. It is wonderful to have many channels in English. The upsetting part is the TV season is over. I loved watching “60 Minutes” and being able to get more US news.

To those readers in the US, you are probably thinking, what is so exciting and need for readjusting, that is normal here and for those who never have been to the US you might have trouble understanding what the difference is except I can say this, If you have been to Manila, think of the differences between Manila and Davao. Manila has more restaurants and choices then in Davao. On the traffic area, the traffic goes from bad to worse.

19 Responses to “Getting Readjusted to America”

  1. John in Austria says:

    Bruce, you keep eating like that, you gonna get fat! 🙂 Probably will eat donuts while driving the taxi too!

    • Bruce says:

      John,
      I am eating better, but watching my intake. If I have a heavy lunch I lighten up on dinner. I am sure I will gain some weight, but will not it increase to much. I will try not to eat at all while driving and am containing from snacking too much.

  2. m60man says:

    Double cheese, double meat equals double waist line! You better get Elena there fast or she may not recognize you. You might check the weight restrictions on that scooter too, hahahaha. Sounds like you are adjusting just fine to me. Glad to hear it.

    • Bruce says:

      m60man,
      I hope I get Elena here fast for her cooking and many other reasons. I miss her dearly. Chatting each day on Skype does not help except to keep in touch.

  3. richard tompkins says:

    When I finally retire my wife and myself are going to live in Davao for a few months and then back to the USA for a few months. Just can’t stay away from the In-n-Out Double Double.

  4. Anthony says:

    Bruce, dont worry the 25lbs you will gain are well worth it to enjoy all of the amazing food the USA has to offer. Now i am not so sure what your heart will think of all the cholesterol though. Enjoy while you can because before you know it you wlll be back in Davao. Try a 3 by 3 animal style at in an out next time you are there. If you order that they will know you are a long time veteran of in an out and will treat you like a vip. ENJOY. P.S. Try the breakfest buffet at Circus Circus, you wont be disapointed!!

    • Bruce says:

      Anthony,
      I am not a ig breakfast eater so I will skip on the Circus Circus. A double double is fine for me.

  5. SteveinDavao says:

    Bruce, STOP, please Stop discribing the food, your killing me…lol..

    • Bruce says:

      Steve,
      OK, I will not talk of the seafood buffets or the unlimited Prime Rib or steaks. Not to mention the pastries. hehehehe

  6. don m. says:

    I had to have pizza today after reading your blog. Dont worry I dont eat fish so that will have no results with me. Are you still thinking of returning to the Pi after you reach retirement age? It will not be that many more years before you can draw on your ss money.

    • Bruce says:

      Don,
      I hope you had a good pizza, not Greenwich. About returning and retirement, Elena and I will work as long as we are able and once we retire we will decide which is best for us.

  7. Tom Martin says:

    From what I read it is not so much the income you did not have in the Philippines as the way of life and the sacrafices that are required to live in the Philippines.

    I saw an interesting post on a website the other day and it ask would you live in the Philippines if cost of living was as much as in your home country, particularly the U.S.A.

    What fool would pay top dollar for brown outs, limited food selection in restaurants, poor government services, lower quality of education, corruption in every transaction you have, difficulty in communication,quality of sanitation being poorer, etc. I can afford to live a good life in the U.S. and I am living in the Philippines, but I guarantee if the cost of living was the same I would not be living in the Philippines.

    I relate that poll to one on another website that ask if the U.S. and the Philippine governments became enemies would you choose to stay in the Philippines. NO, I WOULD NOT. I would be on the first available transportation out of here. Yet, some U.S. expats, in my opinion fools, said they would choose the Philippines over the U.S.

    I do not understand why you would consider returning when you have correctly named all the problems you had here (the same we all have here) and have even this early in your return stated how much better it is in the U.S.

    I figure I am here, no relatives in the States, been gone to long to really have old friendships, in bad health, no longer have a home in the U.S. so I might as well die here in the Philippines, but if I did ever get the courage to return to the U.S. and start over I would never leave again.

    • Bruce says:

      Tom,
      Yes, I made some sacrifices but also got things in return. I was supported by a Filipino nephew. We were able to eat out often, not expensive meals, but items that I enjoyed.

      I agree, many would not come to the Philippines if the cost of living was the same and the standards in the Philippines remained the same. Yes, for me, I am being able to eat with I miss, see supermarkets and stores in order and full of stock and I hear English. But I am now working 12+ hour days for not much more than minimum wage. If it was not for the rent free accommodations I am enjoying, I do not know if I could survive without Elena here working too.

      You say you have no family or friends in America, how many do you have there? If you were back here, I am sure you would make many friends. Also their would not be a language barrier either.

  8. Evelyn says:

    hi bruce, looks like you’re home sweet home..
    well adjusted now..
    hope we’ll get to see each other in vegas someday..

    • Bruce says:

      Evelyn,

      I look forward to seeing you again and I know once Elena is here, she would love to see you too.

  9. BrSpiritus says:

    It’s interesting because my last month in the Philippines I was so excited to come back to the states for the reasons that you have brought up. I was not intending to come back to the Philippines but in order to help my wife with her paperwork for the spousal visa I am going back in mid to late September. Now I find myself excited to go back and not just because I miss my wife so much.

    On top of the food choices I think my other big complaint is the alcohol availability in the Philippines. I’m not a shot and beer drinker anymore and prefer a cocktail or 2 before dinner followed by a nice brandy or cognac after dinner. I also like to have a nice bottle of wine with dinner from time to time as well. Wine is hard to find in the Phil and alcohol for mixed drinks is expensive. I did find a fantastic cognac for $45/ 1L at the duty free shop and although my wife has heart failure at the price anyone who is in the states knows how the cost of cognac has skyrocketed in the past year or so.

  10. Justin says:

    It’s funny to read this. I’ve been living in Davao for a year now and some of the things you mention sound GREAT! (Quizno’s? In-N-Out…oh my god! lol) It’s funny the things you miss from the US when you’re out here.

    That being said, I don’t think I’d trade places. I might not stay in Davao for a long period of time, but there’s more I want to see and do here in the Philippines and throughout the region.

    Best of luck! Any chance you’ll be coming back out here?

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