Tag Archives: culture shock

The Geography Lesson that Brought Me to Shame

14 Feb

Did I ever tell you how I broke my culture shock? The defining moment when I went from “I hate it here, why don’t they do things my way?” to “Well, this might be ok after all!”

I was in my second year of university here in Cancun. I had a world geography class that totally blew my mind. As I looked up at the world map for several weeks, I thought to myself, “This is wrong. Why is the professor teaching wrongness? Why are my classmates not correcting him? Does nobody care or even notice that the map is wrong?” (Gosh, I’m such a typical American.)

In the US, we’re taught early on that the world has 7 continents: North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Antarctica.

In Mexico, they’re taught that the world has 5 continents: America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Under this model, what we Americans consider to be North and South America is actually one large continent of America, and Antarctica doesn’t factor in at all!


But wait! It doesn’t stop there! North America is everything north of the Panama Canal, right? Well, that depends on who you ask.

Get this: Mexicans don’t consider Central America to be part of North America.  Here, the large continent of America is sub-divided into 3 regions: North America (Canada, the US and Mexico), Central America and South America. In this model, Central America is no longer part of North America, it just borders North America.

North America in blue, Central America in yellow, South America in green... 3 regions making up the continent of America

After a few months of fuming to myself, I decided to look it up on Wikipedia to prove that I was right. Instead, what I got was this:

Number of Continents

And that’s when it hit me. My way isn’t the only way.

Even though I was taught something as fact, there still might be millions of other kids in other parts of the world learning it differently.

It was a huge step for me as an expat to realize that I can believe there are 7 continents, and my friends can believe there are 5 continents, and people on the other side of the world can believe there are 6 continents, and we are all correct.

This led me to realize that just because Mexicans don’t do things the way I might want them to, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Sometimes their way is even better than my way! (Except when they put ketchup on their pizza. After 7 years, I still find that unacceptable.)

I spent my first year in Mexico trying to make everyone more like… me. Then I spent the following 6 years trying to become more like them. All thanks to one geography course.

Only in Mexico

30 Jan

The president of my company sends out a daily e-mail with a Bible verse and Catholic lesson… and a prayer to “La Virgen”.

Why do I get the feeling that in the United States, this would result in a company-wide lawsuit?

Sometimes I’m not sure which country is weirder.

Christmas and Culture Shock

30 Dec

Hello all! I’m back from good ole Richmond, Virginia, and it was a very Merry Christmas indeed. This was my first time back in Richmond after more than 3 years, and I got to see family and friends I hadn’t seen in forever.

Jorge LOVED the US. He liked the houses, mainly because they “don’t have bars on the windows, like in Mexico”. Very true. I took him to my favorite outdoor mall, and he was a bit overwhelmed but definitely enjoying himself. I have to admit I miss US malls, too… although I did feel bad for the shirtless guy standing in the freezing cold of the Abercrombie and Fitch entrance.

I was excited to be back in my hometown of Richmond! I got to see lots of friends and family I hadn’t seen in over 3 years. Jorge got to see my high school, middle school, elementary school, church and old house.

Everything seemed so much bigger and grander than I remember. In Cancun all the houses are right next to eachother (no side yards, shared walls) and yards are usually just tiny squares of concrete. The bigger houses here have walls around them, and almost all houses here have bars on the windows. In Richmond, the yards were so huge and the houses so much larger than they needed to be that I felt like I was way in the country or something (even though it was just the suburbs). Even houses I used to think were small growing up, today they look immense!

All the shopping centers and restaurants looked so pristine it was overwhelming. Immaculate storefronts were surrounded by massive amounts of parking space. Where were the flimsy taco stands? Where were the family-owned corner stores? Why are there so many SUVs? Who would go to a huge shopping center in the middle of nowhere? (a lot of people, apparently)

The only thing big about Cancun is the potholes.

I was seeing the first stages of reverse culture shock, and I was only there for 3 days. Everything from the cars to the houses, restaurants, movie theaters and malls was just so BIG and PERFECT. It was lovely, but I was glad to get back to the sun and tiny concrete houses of Cancun.

Here are a few pics. The lights are from the James Center in downtown Richmond, and the rest are just family photos taken at my grandparents’ house.

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How was your Christmas?

The Secret Language of Mexicans

1 Jun

I’m not sure how to go about this post because it’s a topic that I still don’t understand after six years in Mexico.

During my time in this fascinating yet incredibly frustrating country, I’ve noticed that Mexicans have their own subtle ways of communicating that straight-shooting Americans like myself will never comprehend.

On Monday I woke up not feeling well, so I sent my boss a text message asking for the day off. He answered me with the following message:  “Don’t you have your interview today?” (some survey thingy our department is doing)

I texted back “No, not until tomorrow.”

I then sat around for a few minutes waiting for my boss to text me back with an answer. “Why doesn’t he say anything?” I said to Jorge.

Jorge responded with a casual, “He already gave you permission not to go in today.”

Me: “No he didn’t. He asked about my interview, and I said I didn’t have one until tomorrow.”

Jorge: “That means yes.”

Me: WHAT?!?! How does a question mean “yes”??? In the US, it doesn’t mean “yes” until someone says “yes”.

My boss never texted back and asked me how I was doing at work the next day, so I guess it did mean “yes”.


When I was in college here, this happened to me a lot with my classmates. There were several occasions when I might make a comment to a teacher, only to have my classmates later tell me, “Don’t you remember we agreed not to say that to the teacher?” Turns out there had been insinuations and clever nuances in previous conversations that I wasn’t even aware existed. I appeared to have broken some sort of code.


On weekends we go out a lot with my in-laws. Frequently we’ll get into the car to go somewhere, like Jorge’s aunt’s house, for example. We’ll then head in the direction of a supermarket. Conversations go like this:

Me: Where are we going?

Jorge: Walmart.

Me: I thought we were going to your aunt’s house?

Jorge: Yeah, but my dad said we have to stop by Walmart first to pick up some snacks.

Me: When did he say that?

Jorge: Right before we left.

Me: But WHEN did he say that? I was with you both the whole time!


I used to think it was a language barrier. Maybe my limited Spanish was preventing me from picking up certain sentences. Now that I speak fluent Spanish, I see that’s not the case. Mexicans have a way of saying something without directly saying it. I wish I could go into further detail, but I still have NO IDEA how it works.

Ok fellow expat bloggers in Mexico, tell me you know what I’m talking about!! What is this secret language and how does it work?

Time is Fluid

8 Apr

Here in Mexico, the culture has a very different concept of time from in the US. Growing up, my family taught me that if you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late. When I tried to apply that concept here, it resulted in lots of time waiting for other people to show up.

Mexicans consider time to be fluid. There aren’t really specific times, just general times of day and periods of time when things need to be done.

When setting up a get-together with a Mexican, you can usually plan for them to be late. Recently, I got together with a bunch of girlfriends for a bridesmaids dress fitting. My friend Viri and I got there 15 minutes late, 2 girls arrived 45 minutes late, 1 girl arrived an hour late, and another girl arrived an hour and a half late! In the US, this would be completely unacceptable. Here, however, we just used it as an opportunity to have some micheladas and tortas while we waited. No problem!

A few weeks ago, I heard the perfect conversation to represent the “time is fluid” concept. We were in Chabihau, and stopped by a little shop for some machacados (a Mexican version of a slushee, made with natural fruit). As they were preparing our machacados, this conversation occurred:


Jorge: Are you going to be open tomorrow?

Lady: (turns to husband) Are we going to open tomorrow?

Man: Sure.

Jorge: What time?

Man: Ummm… (looks at wife)… in the afternoon? Yes, in the afternoon.

Jorge: Ok, thank you!


For any American, this would cause confusion. Do they open early afternoon? Late afternoon? What time do I need to be here to get my machacado tomorrow?

For the Mexican, however, this is a non-issue. If they’re open when I show up, awesome. If not, they’re probably just having Sunday lunch with the family, right?

For an American living in Mexico, it’s hard to find a balance between “local time” and what we consider to be “rude” by our American standards. I’ve learned to adjust my time to each individual. I have a few friends who are normally punctual, so I try my best to be on time as well. Other friends tend to arrive an hour late, so I’ll wait for them to text me that they’re on their way before I leave my house.

How do you feel about time? Are you punctual? Does it bother you when others are late?

**We stopped by the machacados shop the next day at 1 pm, and yes they were open.**


The Ugly Americans

12 Feb

I’m not sure how to go about writing this one, just something I wanted to get of my chest, I guess.

During my time here in Mexico, I’ve heard many comments about Americans. (Turns out we don’t have a very good reputation… sorry to break it to you guys haha)

I can deal with most of these comments. People saying we’re loud, all we do is party, we’re all rich, we all go on vacations several times a year, etc etc. I understand that I live in Cancun, so obviously this is the side of Americans that my friends see. It’s not close to being true (except that we are very loud!), but again, this is what they see here, so I think only we’re to blame for that one.

Last night I was at a friends house for drinks, and the men started making lots of comments about Americans. Here are some interesting ones:

1. Mexicans are more pure-blooded than Americans. I will agree with this one to an extent. Mexicans in general are decended from 1 or 2 indigenous groups plus Spanish heritage. As a white American, I know of at least 5 different countries/races that I come from. Still, I have had people bring this up with me more than once, and I have yet to receive an explanation as to why it’s relevant. (When one gentleman brought that point up last night, it was met with cries of  “WHO CARES?” from the rest of the table.)

2. Americans don’t have a clear descent. I can trace my family tree back to the 1500s (thanks Grandma!). I know exactly where I come from.

3. Americans are the most racist country in the world (referring to white people vs black people). I disagree. I think you could have made a point of this 40 or 50 years ago. At least where I grew up, white people in my generation or my parents generation don’t seem to have many feelings of superiority over African Americans. I can’t speak for every state, but in Virginia that was very much the case. I did mention to the table that there are strong racial divisions in the country (neighborhoods, schools, etc etc) but that in general I don’t think we have more interracial hatred than many other countries. I also found it interesting when I moved here that in Mexico there are many feelings of superiority between certain races. For example, when I started dating Jorge, some of my friends from other parts of Mexico told me to dump him because “he’s dark and Mayan, and you can do better.” I didn’t think it would be fair to bring this up last night, however, because I have never seen any comments of that kind from the people present at the table.

4. All Americans vacation at least once or twice a year. Mmmm definitely not all of them. I would guess that many of us vacation that often, but certainly not out of the country. My family would vacation several times a year at my grandparents’ lake house, for example, so we never had much need to go elsewhere. I read recently on a CNN article that only 30% of Americans have passports.

5. Americans are crazy. I think Grandma Laura responded best to this comment by yelling, “What, and Mexicans aren’t even crazier?!”

6. White Americans are the worst serial killers. I would say we have the most individuals who kill for no reason apart from craziness, at least from what I see on the news. Yeah, I can’t argue with that one.

7. Americans have no culture. This one. This is the one that really pisses me off and that I have to bite my tongue on. Here’s how I see it: Mexicans have a culture that focuses strongly on their past, which is a very beautiful thing. Mayan architecture, Aztec traditions, regional dances, traditional clothing… all very cool and one of my favorite things about this country. America has a culture that focuses on its present, which might be interpreted as having no culture by other countries. However, when the man of the house said “Americans have no culture” last night, we were listening to American music on his computer, his DVD holder was filled with dozens of American movies and there were 3 bottles of Coca Cola on the table. Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as American Culture when your house is filled with it.

Sorry to rant. I just had to say some of the things I held back last night.

Reading American news sites, I’m often angered by the comments sections. Americans seem to be equally guilty of misjudging other countries and cultures. I can’t believe some of the things said on news sites about Mexicans, and it’s truly sad.

Honestly, I feel like both sides are being somewhat trained and conditioned to hate eachother. Each side has been bombarded with imagery depicting the absolute worst of the other country, and made to assume that’s normal. It’s not.

Both America and Mexico are filled with loving, hospitable, generous and open-minded people. I’m honored to be from one, and honored to live in the other.

I guess my point is: Don’t believe everything you’re told. Get to know somebody before making snap judgements. Just because you hear something from a friend or on the news or in a movie, that doesn’t make it true.

*rant over*

Culture Shock

26 Jan

A few weeks ago I was reading the blog of my friend Nicole, who lives on Isla Mujeres. She mentioned in several posts how frustrated she was with the culture and the island, and I realized she sounded exactly like me 5 years ago.

Most people have heard of culture shock, but not many people actually know what it is or how it looks. Surprisingly, many expats don’t know what it is either, even though they’ve probably suffered from it or are currently going through it.

I was lucky. The first time I came to Mexico I was a missionary intern for a summer in Acapulco, and we had to take a course before we came down. The class I remember the most was about culture shock, and I’m really glad they told us about it. That way, when I actually experienced it, I knew what was happening to me.


The first phase of culture shock is the “Everything is amazing” phase. When you arrive in the new culture, you love the scenery, the language sounds beautiful, the cultural differences are charming… you could live here forever, right? This phase can last a few days or a few months, depending on how long you plan to be in your new country. I remember my first night in Cancun, driving through the Hotel Zone with all the bright and glittery hotels. I was in love. Exploring the city was tons of fun. My apartment was perfect, school was amazing…everything was great for a few weeks.


Then comes the second phase… the “Everything sucks, get me out of here” phase. Like the first phase, this can last days or months (or years), depending on how long you plan to be here. Why can’t the Mexicans do things the way I do them… the RIGHT way? Why does nobody understand that my way is better? Why is it so hot ALL THE TIME? Why is everything so slow? Why does every small daily task take 3 times as long as in the US? Why can’t I throw toilet paper into the toilet? Why can’t people drive correctly? Why is nobody ever on time? What kind of idiot puts ketchup on their pizza? (Ok, the last one still frustrates me!) I was a real jerk during this phase.

From talking to other expats, it seems most long term expats start to go through this phase around month 3 or 4, with a strong, pissed off peak at the one-year mark. I remember when I reached my angry peak… I got into an argument with my roommates, which was the final straw. I called my friend Cesar and asked if I could go to his house. At his house, I pretty much bawled and complained for an hour, going through half a box of tissues. I was certain I wanted to leave NOW. Cesar was very patient with me, and told me to wait it out until the end of that semester, which I did. During those next few months, something just clicked. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to single-handedly change an entire culture. I was the one who had to change, Once I opened my mind, things became much better, and I moved on to phase 3…


Phase 3 is the “Hey, Maybe They Were Right All Along” phase. You’re able to immerse yourself more in the culture and learn from it. I learned Mexicans are always late because of their “time is fluid” concept, which is actually a pretty cool way to live once you get the hang of it. I learned people in Cancun have a different way of driving because there aren’t many signs or lane dividing lines, so the people here have kind of developed their own rules… it appears to be just as good as our system because there aren’t too many accidents here.

This final phase will last throughout the rest of your time in the country. You’ll get many “this place is amazing” moments and many “this place sucks” moments, but overall it will just feel like normal day-to-day life.

Purse Superstitions

17 Jun

Mexico is known for having many superstitions and old-wives tales. I’m still in the process of learning some of them, and in general I just try to ignore them. One of the ones that affects me the most is the purse rule.

In Mexico, it’s believed that if you leave your purse on the floor, you will have bad luck with money.

This is a problem for me, because I leave my purse on the floor ALL THE TIME. For Mexican women, this is apparently not an option. Normally I try to be understanding and gracious, and I’ve changed certain habits without really knowing why, but this is one area where I just ain’t gonna change. Let me give you a few scenarios of what often happens when I go out to a bar with friends:

1. There is an empty chair at the table. Sweet! No problem. All the girls place their purses on the chair.

2. There is no empty chair, but the chair backs are square-shaped and you can hang your purse on them. Most gals will hang their purse on the back of the chair in this case. Sorry, not for me. I’ve had purses whose handles get stretched/torn up that way. (My purses are usually large, and can be a bit heavy, causing more strain on the handles.) I place mine on the floor. Some lady friends might look visibly upset. When I go to the bathroom and come back, I will often find my purse hung up on the back of my chair. I’ll place it on the floor again, and someone will say, “Don’t put that on the floor!”

3. There is no empty chair, and the chairs have round backs. The Mexican girls will spend the entire evening with their purse in their lap or behind their back.  HECK. NO. I might do this if carrying a small clutch. MAYBE. I’ll put my purse on the floor, like a normal person, because eating with a huge purse in your lap is quite uncomfortable. Sometimes everyone will place their purse on top of the table, if there’s room. I find this a bit unsanitary. When was the last time you washed your purse? Maybe I’ll buy them one of these:

Even though my friends get unsettled by this, I keep doing it, for comfort reasons. Despite their best efforts to improve my money luck, my finances are just fine. 🙂


16 Jun

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to get so many awesome and helpful comments on my post. Thanks to all of you for taking the time not only to read it, but to give your advice. I wanted to respond to all the comments, but it was too overwhelming to do in the comments section. So… I’m doing it here. 🙂

Foxy from The Fox Den said:

You know, that’s an interesting question… and thankfully one you won’t have to answer for a while! I think you can make it a point to surround yourself with happy people – or steer clear of negative people – no matter where you go. There are both kinds in every country. But I know what you’re saying… Mexico does have more of a laid back, happy-go-lucky attitude about it. But I feel that way about my life, and I’m here in the US.

Dear Foxy,

That’s EXACTLY what I said to Jorge about a month ago!! Crazy. I said, “Ya know… I think the key to happiness is surrounding yourself with positive people.” Great minds, right Foxy? Maybe that’s something to take into account… I mean, if applied anywhere, you could be happy in any country.


Ashlie from Ashlie’s Cancun Blog said:

It sounds like you are in a very good space these days. It is nice when you are feeling great about life, love, self, etc. I, too, have often considered returning to Canada once we have kids and I have played around with similar thoughts as you, the pros and cons. Don’t try to figure it all out just yet but rather wait and see how things play out. You make very valid points and often a Pro’s and Con’s list works but at the end of the day it may very well come down to what your heart chooses..wow–what a cheesy comment!

Dear Ashlie,

Thanks! I am in a great place nowadays. I can’t fault anything in my life, and it’s awesome. From the looks of your blog, you ain’t got much to complain about either haha. You’re so right… a pros and cons list can help you lay things out clearly, but in the end you have to go with your heart. *cue Disney music*


Brooke from Livin’ La Vida Garcia said:

wow, it sounds like you’ve already answered that. We are looking forward to moving our family to Mexico one day too! There’s lots of things that worry us about it, but hope it happens soon.

Dear Brooke,

Haha well, kind of. I know where I want to live now, but who knows what will happen in 2, 5, 10 years. It would be awesome if you moved your family to Mexico! There are a lot of challenges starting out, but once you get into the swing of things, it’s amazing.


Ronnica from Ignorant Historian said:

There’s nothing wrong with deciding that the fast-paced, success-at-all-costs lifestyle isn’t best to raise kids in (I agree with you, actually). In either place, you’ll have to fight for you kids, but against different things.

Dear Ronnica,

As an American, I grew up thinking that you always had to be great at something… or everything. My parents never pressured me that much, even though they always pushed me to do more (which I’m grateful for). I think it’s more from the culture: school, movies, TV shows, etc. Anything less than striving for greatness was mediocrity/laziness. Now I don’t see it that way. Here in Mexico, it’s just more about enjoying life, family and friends.


My gorgeous sister Sarah said:

well, if you stay in mexico and have kids, i will just have to move there and be “aunt sarah.”

Dear Sarah,

If you move to Mexico, you will become my favorite sister. (Right now it’s a tie.) I’ll add a guesthouse onto my dream home for you.


Leah from In Veracruz said:

I am sure you will know what to do as time goes on. It wasn’t that long ago that I would have never agreed to live in Mexico and now I can’t see myself living in the US again. You never know what life will bring

Dear Leah,

Right? 6 years ago, the last place I saw myself was in Cancun. Now it’s just home. One thing I’ve learned is that you can never plan your life, because God always has other things in mind. The best you can do is be prepared for anything.


Cheri from CheGo2 the Kitchen said:

you will notice this same disposition in a lot of non-1st world countries. coming from one, i guess since we dont have a lot, we tend to enjoy what we do have: family. we dont take things seriously. i mean, we have had the worst flood in the last 40yrs, and we’re waving at the cameras when it pans in our direction.

an option maybe you can raise your kids there, then send them to the state for college. you’ll know what’s best when that time comes

Dear Cheri,

HAHA! Yes. Waving at cameras in the midst of turmoil. I can see that happening here, too. In the States, whenever something happens it’s DOOM DOOM DOOM AND HATRED for decades later. I’m glad you brought up the college thing! That’s definitely a great choice, and will let them have great opportunities after they graduate. After college, they can decide what they want to do and where. Love it.

Or maybe we’ll move to the Philippines 🙂


The Drama Mama from The Scoop on Poop said:

I kind of agree with you. I mean I’m not hopping to move out of the US or anything but I think the general “unhappiness” here is because the country as a whole is so “rich” and everyone is so spoiled. I am glad that I have never lived in luxury. I think I am happier that way (Though struggling has it’s own stress too).

I remember once upon a time someone told me that Mexicans are very hands on people. If they touch you when they talk to you it’s because that’s how they are. I LOVE that. Studies show that touching is the most positive affirmation of love, so yeah, I love that.

Dear Drama Mama,

That’s kinda my theory too. I think humans love to have problems, and when everything is perfect, there’s a subconscious need to create a problem. (I call this the Lindsay Lohan Theory.) The more people have, the more they complain about it. Mexicans are hands-on people! Here you always greet people with a handshake, a hug or a kiss on the cheek, even when you’re just meeting them. As a “cold American”, I used to be annoyed by this. Now that I’m used to it, I see it as a great icebreaker and a great way to touch base with everyone when you’re at a get together. (Whenever I go back to the States and see someone I know, I always start to lean in for the cheek peck… then I remember I shouldn’t do that to acquaintances in the States, and I start to freak out over what I should do with my hands. haha)


Margaret from Single and Sane said:

Parents have a role in determining how much or how little pressure kids feel growing up. Now that you have lived in a culture where you don’t feel as stressed, you might be able to translate much of that feeling to life in the US – that’s up to you, wherever you live.

Dear Margaret,

Hmmm food for thought! I agree that parents are the most important role models. I think school has a large impact as well. One thing that worries me about the education here is that people don’t seem to push kids to do that well… copy pasting from the internet, and copying off other kids’ tests, isn’t really discouraged here. In Mexico it’s the norm, whereas in the States it’s unspeakable.  I’m not ok with that, and I’m not sure I want my kids learning that behavior, so that’s another thing to think about. (Sorry I’m a little off-topic haha)


TGalvan said:

I lived in Cancun for years and moved back to Canada 2 yrs ago….big mistake. Exactly like you say….there I never really had a worry or stress in the world, here that’s all life is. Just like you my husband is Mexican and we had talked about moving to Canada on and off and for a couple reasons we decided to come live back in Canada for a couple years. I think since the moment we got to Canada I have been counting down the days till we go back to Mexico.
We recently had a son and I now more then ever want to go back and raise him in Mexico. Family, friends lifestyle and way of life are something I find much more important in Mexico then in say Canada or the US. Here it’s work $ work stress and more stress, people don’t put that aside to really enjoy what is close and precious in life here.
I could go on and on on this topic but in the end to each our own but what I have learned from experience is that really really think hard about the future before you make big decisions and if you do that everything will turn out for the best!
Sorry for the rambling!! hehe

Dear TGalvan,

Wow, thanks so much for this response! That’s exactly what I’m scared of… moving back and then realizing things were just fine in Cancun. I feel like I’d have “backwards culture shock” or something. When I think about getting back all the comforts of the States I get all happy  (nice roads, Target, great shopping, drinking water out of the faucet, flushing toilet paper down the toilet, etc), but now that I’ve learned to live without those things for 5 years, I realize they weren’t a big deal to begin with (except Target). How could I live without palm trees, ocean breezes, keeping my windows open all day, walking to the corner store, spur-of-the-moment gettogethers with friends, fresh seafood… I dunno. Thanks for sharing. You really hit the nail on the head.


Julie M from Mommie Cooks said:

Great Post. I do agree that there are plenty of people in America that see the cup as half empty rather than half full. I think part of the problem right now is just the economic state we’re in. So many people have taken a hit financially and when you’re in a country where money is king, that can sour people.

What people here need to realize though, is that money is not everything. There is so much more that can bring you happiness. My hope is that as people start to adjust to the “new and less rich” America, they will find happiness in the joys of life and not the dollars in their pocket.

Dear Julie,

Hmm maybe you’re right… I’m sure a lot of what I’m seeing lately is financial woes, so hopefully it’s temporary. I hope people will stop giving money so much priority as well, but it will take time. It’s such a huge part of our culture. Money = success = happiness.


Becca from Bare Feet on the Dashboard said:

the pace of life is so different, and that makes or breaks your stress level. God is in control, no matter how many plans you make. i think y’all will figure out what is best for your familia. if you are content where you are, you can make it work for your future kiddos as well.

Dear Becca,

The slow pace here used to stress me out more! I got frustrated not knowing what time people would show up, getting stood up unannounced, having to wait hours before plans could be carried out, etc. Now it’s something I appreciate. Once you just accept it, it’s so easy to go with the flow. I’ve realized that things will always get done eventually. There’s no hurry to do it RIGHT NOW.


Salt from Salt Says said: (haha try saying THAT 3 times fast!)

I think that when the time comes for you, you are going to know exactly what to do and it will be the right decision. A lot can change between now and the time you have children. Heck, something might happen here that is so huge that I’ll relocate my whole family to Mexico.

Target is nice though. I would definitely miss Target.

Dear Salt,

That’s it, isn’t it? My life plans have never gone the way I thought (heck, I’m in Mexico for cryin out loud), so I guess I’ll just see what happens in a few years. Maybe the US will have another Great Depression. Maybe Mexico will be overrun with zombies or something.  Oh, Target…


Lauren from On Mexican Time said:

Hey amiga – I sooo get what you are saying!!! I always hear someone complaining about something back home, and here, rarely. I mean of course, well allll complain, but it´s different.

Also, one of the reasons I agreed to live here with hubby was that we could have our ¨dream¨home sooner. I could be a stay at home mom. Back in Calgary, Canada …. would have had to give up A LOT in order to get those things…. years, and years later.

You´ll figure out what to do when the time comes!!! Until then…continue enjoying life amiga!!

Dear Lauren,

Hola, amigisima! Yay! It’s NOT just me! People living up north DO complain more. Here we complain, too… but it doesn’t seem to let us down. A setback doesn’t put us into a depression, ya know what I mean? Maybe all the sunshine and seafood softens the blow haha I keep thinking about buying/building a dream home, too. When I picture doing it here, it seems like something we can get started on in 1 or 2 years, then build onto it little by little without accumulating much debt. In the States, it just seems like decades away, followed by even more decades of mortgage payments. Maybe I’m wrong or overly optimistic, but that’s the impression I get.


K from Michigan said:

You have time to think it over. But life in the US is stress and more stress!

Dear K,

*sigh* I suspected as much. Why is that? Do Americans just DO more than Mexicans? Or do they just freak out about it more?


Ang from Football, Sushi and the Pursuit of Happiness said:

Hey, thanks for the plug!

I’m glad you’re happy right now… just roll with it for a bit. Leave the future in the future and deal with it as it comes… or at least in a little bit. Happiness is fun, enjoy it!

Dear Ang,

You’re welcome! Cell phones while driving annoys the crap outta me. You’re right, life is good now. Maybe that’s enough 🙂


Megan from Twinsomnia said:

Gah, life in the U.S. is stressful. There is a reason I’m always saying I should move to the Bahamas!!

You know, you have all the time in the world to figure out what to do. You may change your mind once you have kids, or you may not. But the fact that you’re happy right now, with your life and where you are, is awesome. Enjoy it!

Dear Megan,

DO IT! Move to the Bahamas! I’ll go with you haha



We’re just gonna save tons of money over the next few years, then decide where we want to spend it later on. Either way, there will be a guest house for ya’ll to come visit. 🙂

Thanks again, guys!

This is exactly why God is in charge instead of me

15 Jun

My girl Ang over at Football, Sushi and the Pursuit of Happiness had her own mini-campaign against texting while driving yesterday. I don’t have a car (yet!), but I have talked on the phone while driving a few times myself… and it was kinda scary. I can’t imagine what would happen if I were texting and had to focus on pressing buttons and correct spelling!

At my request, Ang made me this awesome button (which matches the flowers in my header… pretty cool, right?). If you want to participate, just steal the button, or shoot her a comment and she’ll make one in whatever color you want!

Anyway, on a completely non-related topic, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about life and happiness. I’ve realized lately that I am extremely happy with my life. Things couldn’t be better. I have almost zero stress (any stress in my life is related to my dogs, usually), I have a great job that pays well, I speak 2 languages fluently, I have hundreds of friends (as proved by my enormous wedding guestlist), I have an amazing family, I have an amazing future husband, I live in a city that I love… God has truly blessed me.

Most expats living in Mexico that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing (online or in person) have this same outlook. They tend to focus more on the joys in life, and they usually see the humor in bad situations.

Via Facebook, I’ve seen that such is not usually the case with my American friends still living in the States. There are many cryptic facebook statuses, working awful hours at work, self esteem issues, family stress, financial stress, and the list goes on. Not that they’re depressed… but they just don’t seem as happy. That was me, once.

Jorge and I had always planned on moving to the States when we have kids someday. I’m no longer so sure that I want to do that. People just seem happier here in Mexico. Everyday struggles don’t seem like such a big deal. Obviously Mexico has its issues, but I can’t deny that the lifestyle usually leads to a healthier outlook on life.

So what do we do?

Do we move back to the States once we have kids, where education is great (and pretty much free) and there are so many opportunities, but the culture seems to lead to stress and self doubt? (Target is also high on my list of reasons to go back.)

Or do we stay here, where a good education is gonna cost us, but the culture will allow our kids to feel more confident? I feel like here we’d also be more able to build a dream home in a great location. In the States, it could take decades, whereas here we could have it within a few years if we play our cards right.

I used to think I had to raise my kids in the States for the education. I wanted to give them every opportunity I had. Lately I’ve read so many blogs about Americans raising families in Mexico, however, and they just seem so happy. Maybe it’s not a bad idea after all?

Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, and maybe I’m generalizing a lot. I sincerely love both cultures, and the USA has given me so many opportunities. I love my friends and family there, and it has so many pros over Mexico. (That’s a blog post for another day!) But that’s just my observation, and that’s what’s going through my head as Jorge and I try to make these decisions.

At least we have a few years to decide (assuming everything goes as planned, which it rarely does in life).

Then again, maybe I just shouldn’t plan ahead anymore. Things usually turn out better that way (probably because God is so much smarter than I am).

If you’re still here, thanks for putting up with my random thoughts.