Growing up as an expat can be an adventure!
April 15, 2015
I was born in the Philippines and spent part of my childhood in Hong Kong. Those experiences helped prepare me for the culture shock of moving to the United States.
When we moved to Hong Kong, I attended an international school where it was easy to socialize and blend in with students from all over the world. Everyone learned English so we all understood one other. Hong Kong was quite different from the Philippines, though. Everything – from supermarkets to fast food – was easily accessible, most of it within walking distance. Most kids walked to school, too. In the Philippines, I took a service bus or commuted via train to school.
When we moved to the United States, the schools were very different from the Philippines and Hong Kong. School uniforms weren’t required, for example, and religion didn’t play a role in the schools that I attended. This took some adjustment on my part; my previous schools were either exclusively Muslim or Catholic so regardless of your actual religion, you had to adhere to the school’s religious practices.
Since moving to the U.S., I’ve returned to visit the Philippines and Hong Kong. Even though we live in a globally connected world, some people still view those from other countries quite differently. I find it ironic that people can’t tell what ethnicity I am. In the U.S., people think I'm either Mexican or Native American. In the Philippines, people think I'm half-white or of mixed race. When others learn that I’ve lived in other countries, it seems to make them a bit uncomfortable at first because we’ve lived such different life experiences. I understand how my life can seem foreign to someone who’s lived their entire life in one country.
I'm completely impartial regarding the countries I've lived in. There are differences between them and pros and cons, but they’ve all been home to me at some point. The cultures may be different, but the people are mostly all nice to talk to and fun to be around. My experiences have taught me to value people as individuals, wherever we are.
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