In the weeks leading up to a trip to India, Carolyn Handler Miller imagined all she'd see and experience: elephants, camels, monumental architecture, gorgeous saris and mysterious rituals at the Ganges. What she didn’t envision, however, was an unexpected aspect of the culture that left her questioning her ideas of privacy.
For American expat, BJ Stolbov, one of the most interesting and informative things about living in the Philippines is observing cultural norms. In this insightful essay, BJ reflects on Filipino attitudes about looking foolish in public, a topic which he's very familiar with.
A decade ago, on the tiny isle of Cape Clear off the southern coast of Ireland (pop. 100) Rachel Dickinson found herself sitting next to a man in a pub who graduated from the same small college she attended in Upstate New York. It was such an improbable meeting that it threw her into a magical daze. Today, she recalls a trip filled with birds and quirky characters and a wee bar in a house where everyone drank and twirled to the music of a fiddle, pennywhistle, and bodhran.
When B.J. Stolbov left the United States to live abroad, he knew no one and no one knew him. He chose to view this as an opportunity to shed the masks and roles and expectations of his past and focused on becoming the person he wanted to be. The result is a life of unexpected joy.
He studied the French tapes. He bought the French software. He even took the French immersion course. Jules Older was ready for Paris. He would sound just like Maurice Chevalier and leave the French with a better impression of Americans. He would be the Pretty American.
All Elyn Aviva wanted was a quiet, peaceful vacation in a rented cottage in Penzance, Cornwall. Noise, traffic, and a lack of privacy was what she got instead. Ready to call it quits and return home, she creates a mental trick that helps her to endure. Until it doesn't.
There's more to the Philippines than white sandy beaches, clear blue ocean, soothing waves, and swaying palms trees. When American expat BJ Stolbov settled in the Philippines, he traveled beyond and above the tourist-laden beaches to a world of lush tropical mountains and indigenous tribal culture and people. Discover his insider tips for exploring the mountains of northern Luzon.
As an American expat teaching English in high schools and universities in the Philippines, YourLifeIsATrip.com contributor BJ Stolbov's students often ask him, “What makes Americans American?” Learn why it's a question that he finds difficult to answer as America becomes increasingly socially and politically divisive and discover how his answer is still one that unites.