I’ve been in the Philippines for more than 5 months, and even though I’ve fallen into a barkada (group of friends), I long for the companionship of people whose jokes and references I understand. I’m not fluent in Tagalog, and that makes for a lot of slow moments. I take things literally because I don’t know when people are joking; and while my friends are nice enough to find it amusing, I just think it’s annoying. I don’t like not being in on the joke. I hate that I just don’t get the Filipino way of communicating.
There are so many things that are implied via communication, and maybe it’s more of a cultural thing than a language thing, but a lot of it escapes me. Like, for example, on an exam, the question read: “A declarative sentence makes a statement.” The options are: (a) imperative sentence, (b) exclamatory sentence, (c) compound sentence, and (d) declarative sentence. Obviously the answer is (d), but is it just me, or was there no question to begin with?
Another time, on a big exam for sociology class, the teacher used quotes from the Bible and asked us to choose the personality trait that it identified. The thing is, these quotes weren’t obviously descriptive of any personality traits; they were telling of a particular Biblical story, and the story was indicative of a moral which is indicative of a personality trait. Given that 98% of the students are Catholic and have passing knowledge of the Bible, they’re good to go. But me, the Muslim girl, the girl who’s a member of Iglesia ng Christo, and the girl whose hair is really, really long (I’m not sure what religion she is)? We’re shit out of luck.
There are so many instances of this happening that I’ve learned to ignore them and keep on trucking. It’s for this reason that I stopped busting my ass to make it on the Dean’s List. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to get recognized for the fucking rock star that I am, but all of these handicaps? They just tell me that the system’s rigged against me. And I don’t have the time or energy to fight the system.
I miss the companionship of like-minded individuals. I crave the intimacy of cultural sympathy and understanding. No, that might be an understatement. Here’s the truth: You, Internet, are a good lay who treats me well and I’m a needy chick who may or may not be able to catch a hint. You’re my drug of choice, my addiction. And I’m sorry that I’ve become co-dependent, and I swear I’ll stop dropping by your job and texting just to say I miss you. But I can’t let you go. Please understand. You are my refuge.
Soon, Rob will be here, and I’ll either need you more than ever, or I’ll be mentally stable. For now, if I overshare, if I forget how to properly interact, or if I introduce myself to your parents and friends as your wifey (and you’re forced to give me the side-eye and smirk)—please please please don’t hate me.