9 weeks in and we have now completed three quarters of our stay in Cebu.
It's safe to say that this isn't an easy ride, that it starts from being difficult and it gets easier. It's not like that at all. It's one hell of a rollercoaster, one day you're feeling absolutely positive, everything's going to go smoothly, and then the next day it comes crashing down. It's so difficult having to live here, but I've completely adjusted to it now.
The picture is of the three of us; me and my two counterparts who have now lived together for 8 weeks. We're pretty much like sisters, we tease, we argue, we basically talk about everything. If one of us seems to do something wrong or get in trouble with the family (often me!), we'd stick up for each other. My host family says we're like Tom and Jerry, we have a love/hate relationship! I'd never have thought I would have that relationship with them from the beginning. And they're one of the main reasons that I'm getting through this, I thank them a lot for that! It's sad that we only have 2 more weeks of living together left, but I'm sure we will make the most of it!
Professionalism. That's one of the major differences between the UK and in the Philippines. I've not seen one professional person here in the Philippines, not since I met the ambassador back in Manila on my first day. When I go to Cebu City Hall for the meetings on Mondays, the guard tried to chat me up. He asks for pictures of me. Would you see that happening, with the guards in Buckingham Palace? No. You'd be so surprised at how they lack professionalism. That's why you don't feel safe, anywhere you go.
I went to a meeting yesterday, with the principal at the school I work with, as well as all the teachers. Honestly, they were mucking around, laughing, not getting to the point. I'm not surprised anyway, they sleep through lessons, walk off, forget that they're teaching. I'm constantly reminding them to sign, at least speak English.
Thinking about it, before I came to the Philippines, I probably wouldn't even have the confidence to do that. I think I am slowly realising that I am a much stronger person - well hello?! I've been dumped in a Filipino household in a community where tourists are never seen. I look back to when I first found out I was going to be sharing with 2 Filipino volunteers, and I had no idea how hard that was going to be. Hardest thing I've done in my life, no question about it.
People who live around here are starting to stare at me less and less. They see me everyday. I used to ignore them and avoid everyone. But now, I give them a friendly smile, I've seem them before. They're harmless. Yes, I'm the only one here that's not a filipino, they do make a big deal out of it. I'm used to it now.
I do genuinely believe it's going to be so difficult to psychologically adjust to the living conditions and being with the people I know back at home. Because I've lived like this for so long, it's not going to be easy. At home, I'm usually in a stable series of emotions, thinking in the same usual ways, but here I'm all over the place, I think in ways I've never thought before.
Reading back, this blog is so deep - I should probably stop now! 22 days to go!