Four things I learned in the U.S.

I was blessed to have the chance to be in the United States. Initially, I only wanted to visit it to see the places, to feel the cold weather, to temporarily experience what life is like in the place that many Filipinos dream to live in.

I planned to stay for only a month. But because of certain twists of fate and faith, I decided to give up my life in the Philippines. It was not an easy decision to make but in my short stay, I learned a few essential things that made me a better person.

Lesson # 1: I learned the real definition of Industrious

Filipinos are known to be a hard-working group of people and I am proud of that. But in the Philippines, being a diligent worker is voluntary. We work hard because we want to, not because we have to.

Our common definition of hard work is giving our best in our jobs and careers in order to provide for our families. But, do we include the work we do at home as a home maker and a wife? Or is it negligible because we can hire helpers anyway?

Here in the US, hard work is real!

Unlike in the Philippines, people work here because they do NOT have a choice. And the meaning of hard work is not just confined in the intensity of effort they exert in their jobs. It extends to their household tasks which include cooking for the family, taking care of the kids, doing the laundry, cleaning the house. Hard work in this country means sacrificing time, sleep and leisure.

Although it seems easier to be hard working in the Philippines, I consider the difference that hard work here in the US has developed in me more significant. It is a form of diligence that is character changing.

Lesson # 2: I learned the Importance of Humility

When I decided to give up my life in the Philippines, I was prepared for life to be different. Despite of this, it still came as a shock to me that I have become a very small fish in an extremely wide ocean.

Everything was so unfamiliar that I had to start from scratch. I almost graduated cum laude in Psychology at Ateneo de Manila but my credentials did not matter! My work experience was of no use and my achievements were not recognized. I am on a clean slate all over again.

Of course it was not easy to adjust to all the changes. But it was the life I chose to live and I only had two choices to make. I can humble myself, swallow my pride and accept the fact that I have to start a new beginning or I can live in self-pity and dwell in the past. Good thing, I made the first option and I learned to move on.

The light in the situation right now is, that I have nothing to prove. People here do not expect anything of me. They do not care what I used to have or what I used to be. I can take advantage of this and work my way up to success quietly and humbly.

Lesson # 3: I experienced SINCERITY in its truest sense

I do not want to mock the sincerity of Filipinos. I know a lot of Filipinos who are truly sincere. But, sincerity in the Philippines is a virtue that can be questionable at times.

Back there, we live in a world where we need to give “suhol,” or “lagay” just so we can get things done and let other people help us. We get discounts on sale items but they are rarely in good condition because they are either too old or are almost expired. We hear a lot of well-known personalities on television saying one thing and doing another. There seems to always be a “catch” for so many things in the Philippines.

I went to the US with the same mindset and I was amazed that people here do not think that way. They help if they want to and they don’t if they do not feel like it. They can directly say that they cannot do it for you or tell you if they are willing.

You do not have to pay them to get things done. Gratitude seems to be a sufficient payback. I enjoyed the 50% plus an additional 20% discount for items that are still in top shape. Services and things do not have a catch and you are always assured of getting your money’s worth.

There are rarely any “catch” or “strings attached” here.

Lesson # 4: I knew what Courtesy really means

Filipinos are known to be a friendly group of people. We really are. But, we can sometimes be so clannish that our friendliness only extends to those we know and are familiar with. We seem to have an invisible border around us that only specific people can invade. Although this is a personal choice that we make, there is more to courtesy than this.

If you have ever tried riding an elevator with a fellow Filipino and an American you will know what I mean. Filipinos to Filipinos in an elevator scenario will rarely speak to each other no matter how long the ride is. But Americans riding with a Filipino in an elevator will usually strike a conversation by simply saying hi or asking any question such as the weather condition.

Americans are friendly!

Filipinos are known as people of great values. I definitely agree to this. However, after experiencing another place, another group of people, another life, I realized that we Filipinos can still improve whatever values that we are proud of at the moment. We are just good enough, but we can always be better or even be best.



About ness

A dog lover - a traveler - a part time writer - a mom...

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  • xoxjelxox

    wow! amazin article:) i can totally relate;)

    • Ness

      Thanks! Write your adventures here too!

  • aivez

    very true indeed!i’ve been here for almost a year and it’s really hard to adjust…you had captured all my dilemma. i don’t have a choice but to stay here and go with the flow and grow with my new environment. i know eventually, i’ll find my own place here,too.

    • Ness

      You will. My husband and I started here, lost, years ago. Now, he goes fishing, motorcycling, and other various activities with a lot of his friends.

      As I did too. I have a lot of friends now. The first few years will be hard, but it will eventually get better.

  • Lyn Gavan Schiffman

    I’ve been in the US for almost 3 years now and I agree.

    • Ness


  • guest101

    i really think this is misleading. but what we see in movies or what we hear from stories or news says otherwise