Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Dearest Sweetest... an open letter

When my Hubby and I were still in a long distance relationship… I used to send him cards every week. Even if we chatted online religiously and talked on the phone frequently… I still sent him cards with sweet messages that I wrote to tell him how much I missed him.

When my Hubby and I got married… I am now used to just writing checks for bills… filling up forms… and doing his paperwork.

This is the 3rd New Year that we are together as husband and wife. And we have only a couple of hours left before the year ends. I am writing this letter to tell him how much I miss him… even if he is just a foot away.

My Dearest Sweetest,

We only have few more hours left and a new year will begin. I wish we could spend those remaining few hours of 2009 cuddling while watching CSI and waiting for the countdown. But then, we are spending it like any ordinary nights… ME – multi-tasking [watching TV, facebooking, blogging and chatting with Japol] and YOU – snoring away to dreamland and too tired to even take your socks off. But then, it's ok at least I can write this letter without you bugging me and asking me what I am doing every 5 minutes.

This is our 3rd New Year together and so far we are still holding on and going strong. This year has brought the best and the worse in us. We both rejoiced and were grateful for the best times we had this year. And we struggled together to beat the worse moments just the same. There were times that we fought over petty things and there were those moments when we fought together against the odds. We did have a lot of misunderstanding but still we never fail to understand each other and always ready to forgive and forget.

Sweetest, I want to take this chance to tell you how much I love you.

I love you not because of the sparkles that those diamond jewelries that you gave me bring… but because of the sparkles that I see in your eyes when you look at me.

I love you not because I enjoy breakfast in bed… but because you try your best to make me breakfast when I am too lazy to make one.

I love you not because you fold your own laundry and leave mine in the basket… but because you want me to save time on folding clothes and don’t want me to re-do mine because you know I have a special way of folding them.

I love you not because you take care of the trash and the mice trap after several times of procrastinating… but because you always wanted to tease me and find me cute when I am angry.

I love you not because you give me flowers every chance you got or shall I say after my nagging… but because you still give me flowers even if you don’t believe it’s important, you still give me because you know I love them.

And more importantly, I love you because
you are such a hard worker, both figuratively and literally. I'm sorry if I whine a lot every time you asked me to rub your back at night because it hurts. I would have never known how hard you work until the day I insisted on going with you and helped you out with a few stuff. I only spent a couple of hours working with you and didn't even do the hard stuff but my whole body was sore. It was then that I realized that you were really hurting when you asked me to rub your back. That few hours of spending time with you at work and observing you work made me realized how hard your work is. Observing you at work brought me to tears. That is why... since then, I tried my best to rub you back even if I am too lazy to do it.

Sweetest, thank you for keeping up with me... for putting up with my craziness... and for loving me despite my shortcomings.

I love you!

Your Sweetie

Happy New Year, Everyone. Hope Hubby will be able to read this when he gets up in the morning.

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Indeed... Christmas!

I woke up to a nice, sunny white Christmas morning and to Hubby's sweet and loving "Merry Christmas" greeting... with a matching one-of-a-kind, multi-colored, half-a-carat trinity diamonds and white gold necklace. Yes! I got another piece for my collection. [wink*]

I woke up this Christmas morning very excited with the present. Whose girl will not be excited? They're diamonds! They're girls' BFFs! And what does an excited girl would do when she receives a diamond? She'll "facebook" it! LOL

It's indeed Christmas! After an entire year of waiting... a few days of countdown... a little effort of taking several trips to all the stores in town that has a big "SALE" mark on its window... a lot of painstaking moments to beat the traffic and finding a spot to park the car... a lot of decision making ordeal in finding the right present for the right person... a couple of sleepless nights wrapping the presents... and one last chance to hold myself together to make it to the holiday season... Christmas has indeed brought the best in me... and thank God, I am still alive.

Finally, It's Christmas! Now, that the gifts are unwrapped and mess is cleared. Now, that all my loved ones' newly acquired possessions are dealt with. Now, that I saw that everyone is happy with their loot... it's now time to plan for the next things to buy... because after Christmas... is the best time to buy presents for next Christmas because everything is on sale. LOL.

Merry Christmas All.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... The Last Words

QUESTION NO. 11. Anything else you want to add or share about expat life or culture shock? Please share anything you think would be helpful to expats in general or expats living where you are now.

Moving to an entirely new place or home is a life-changing decision that one has to take with total precaution and consideration.

No one will prepare you for the changes that you will about to experience and the challenges that you are going to face. Adjustment period will be long if not constant but opportunities are endless.

Things may not always be favorable but take them as a learning experience. And most importantly, take things to the next level every time you reach your goal.


There you go! I guess that's all I have to say. And this is the last of the "My Interview with Kristie" sequel.

I would like to thank you all for this great opportunity to share my experiences and colorful reflections of my new life as an expat... a life that I am living now away from my homeland... from the people I love... and from the culture I was born with.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... The Restless Traveler

QUESTION NO. 10. Where do you think you'll go next?

I am a traveler. At least I believe so that is why I am so sure that once the travel bug bites me again... there is nothing else for me to do but to pack my luggage and take off.

I have been to different countries [with my BFFs] before I finally settled here in Maine.

I want to see the world and given a chance I will not pass on it.

I want to see Europe and the mysterious Asian countries that I used to teach my students from books. And perhaps visit again those places I've already been to just to relive the good memories I had there.

And after I get tired of traveling I will surely go back home for a short visit to my home country to be with family and reconnect with friends every now and then.

Or maybe buy a farm and build my dream vacation/retirement home there and just come back here in Maine after the long winter is over.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... Practical Tips

QUESTION NO. 9. Any practical tips for the new expats out there?

Moving or migrating is a big decision one has to make. It is like going to war. You need to be prepared and ready... emotionally, physically and perhaps spiritually to survive the challenges awaiting you.

My practical tips are very common and simple. I know a lot of people already know them or simply put... they already know what to do once they are faced with the same predicament. I believe that human being has a natural instinct to adapt to any life situation for survival. But still everything is easier said than done.

Based on my personal experience... these 5 things saved me from losing my sanity during the first few months in my new home. And for this reason alone, I know it is worth sharing. So here goes;

1. Pack a great amount of common sense and you will never go wrong.

2. Be prepared and don't whine if things won't happen the way you dreamt it.

3. Expect the unexpected so that you will not get disappointed.

4. Don't leave behind your values, faith and personal conviction because
they will come handy in those instances when you are left with no options.

5. And more importantly, grow where you are planted.

Being an Expat is like you are being uprooted from the soil where you are planted. But being so is not entirely a negative thing. Some plants grow beautifully when they are re-planted or re-potted... you know what I mean. Take advantage of the things offered to you in your new home and look for the opportunity to learn and to adapt and things will fall perfectly into places.

And if things did not go the way you expected it to be... find ways to move on... or move out... or move in. It's your choice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... The Culture Shock

QUESTION NO. 8. Did you experience culture shock when you moved? What was that like? How did you overcome it?

Culture shock and adjustment are two basic components inevitable to migration. They are considered as packaged deal. The only difference between the two is how the person deal with them.

In my case, I am glad that modern technology was able to bridge communication gap among people geographically wise. It helps me a lot to stay in contact with my family back home through regular chat online and get updates from friends every chance we get.

The first couple of months away from home and from the people I know all my life and being with strangers and the new family I hardly know made adjustment tough but manageable. Culture shock on the other hand is limited to the cultural aspects of my new home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

QUESTION NO. 7. What are some of the good, the bad, the ugly…and the funny things you have experienced living overseas? Please share any funny or fun stories you have about the place you are living.

Living in Maine for almost two years now, I have a lot of experiences both exciting and unexpected... both beautiful and ugly... both unforgetable and traumatic.

I am always amazed at how closed we are to nature. It amused me when I would meet a deer crossing the dirt road when I go for a morning run...

or wild turkeys in queue...

or some playful squirrels and chipmunks seeking for acorns at the backyard...

or a hungry bird having lunch.

I was so thrilled the first time my Hubby took me for a snowmobile ride to get pizza in the middle of a blizzard.

I can't forget the first time I caught my first fish when Hubby and I went ice-fishing in a frozen pond.

And I am constantly awed by the changing landscape of the countryside.

But living in Maine is not all about the good things. Maine is not a total paradise on earth. Winter in Maine is beautiful yet threcherous.

I hate driving in winter roads especially after a snow storm or worse... an ice storm.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... The Permanent Change

QUESTION NO. 6. Do you want to move back to where you came from? If not, what is it about the expat life that makes it all worth it to you?

Do I want to move back to where I came from? YES and NO.

Yes. I will surely go back home but only for a short visit or extended vacation. Don't get me wrong. I love my country and the people I left behind...

my family...

my friends...

my students...

But here is the thing, before I finally decided to come here, it took me quite awhile to think things over. It was not an easy decision. I needed to consider a lot of factors knowing that once I made the decision there is no turning back. But then, me and Hubby have planned to retire to the Philippines someday. So yes... moving back is a distant possibility.

No. I am not moving back... soon. Maine is my home now. Sure, I had some disappointments in some aspects of my life here but I also had learned to deal with them and I am doing a-ok now.

I am working and I love my work.

I have new friends whose company I enjoy and with whom I learned new things and culture.

I now enjoy lots of activities and things that I never experienced back home.

And if ever we do retire in the Philippines, we will surely be back here in Maine during the fall and early part of winter for...

the hunting...
... and ice-fishing season.

What makes my expat life worth it? Making that drastic decision to leave home was just that... drastic. But still I am glad that I did it because I know if I didn't I will forever wonder and deal with what-could-have-been-if-I-didn't kinda feeling more synonymous with the word "regret".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Interview with kristie... The Reason

QUESTION NO. 5. If you were to do it all again (moving to and living in another country), what would you do differently?

Living in this country could be a dream come true to some. But for me, this country is the last place on earth I wanted to go to. Before I came here, I had this big plan in my mind to travel all over the world and visit key cities in all of the 7 continents of the world including Antartica. Seriously! But God has other plan for me.

If I have to do it again... moving to another country... I would definitely move here in the US. Despite the fact that I didn't like it the first time I came here due to some disappointments which is normal to any immigrant. But then, maybe if I did not expect too much, things will be different. or maybe if I brought more positive attitude things will be otherwise. And perhaps, it would help a lot if I have decided to do it when I was a little younger.

But then, looking back now, I know there is no other way I would have made my decision differently. I found my soulmate and I am fine with it.

Finding him made the change bearable.

Finding him made the transition period smooth.

Finding him made everything worth it.

Some surprises have come a long the way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... The Challenge

QUESTION NO.4. What was the most challenging part of living in a foreign country when you first started out as an expat? Do you have any advice for those facing similar challenges?

If living behind everything and bravely facing an unknown future to be with the man who swept me off my feet is not challenging enough, then I guess dealing with the unexpected and some disappointments would be fair enough to say that being an imigrant is not for the faint of heart... it is never easy.

My advice to those who are in the same boat... take the Online Dating 101 course.

Seriously, be open-minded. There is nothing that will prepare you for the unexpected. Welcome new ideas, culture and tradition with open arms. And going back home is never an option. Just deal with it and you will be fine... eventually.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Interview with Kristie... Work-related Issue

QUESTION NO. 3. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get a job in a foreign country? Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get a job in the country you are now living in? What was your experience with getting a visa/job? Was it difficult?

Getting a job in a foreign country is not as easy as I expected it to be. Despite the fact that I have the credentials... communication skill is the big hurdle.

Language barrier is a big issue. It is not what you say but how you say it. Another thing is that I came here when the economy is not as favorable as it used to be. Competition with the locals is tough. So if you are looking for a job here, don't expect to get the job the you are trained for unless you come here on a working visa. In my case, I am a teacher by profession but I can't get a teaching job unless I get certified by the State and that means that I need to take a short refresher's course and pass board exam.

I came here on a Fiance Visa so getting the visa is not that hard because my Fiance was the one who filed for it. I only prepared the documents needed by the US Embassy, passed the Medical Exam and the Interview.

The only difficult part in coming here is leaving behind my family... my friend... my roots. It was indeed a tough decision I made. I had to sacrifice a lot of things just to be with the "Love of my Life".