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Living in Cebu: Culture Shock and Interesting Things to Know

Living in Cebu can be quite odd for non-Filipinos. Learning about its culture and beliefs will make your stay much easier.

Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation you get when first subjected to an unfamiliar society and lifestyle. Many foreigners that decide on living abroad experience this phenomenon when they arrive in a foreign country.

This is especially true for non-Filipinos who commit to living in Cebu. The decades of culture and change in the city are bound to make some foreigners a little uncomfortable.

Here are some interesting facts about the people and their culture that might surprise first time travelers.

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT YOU START LIVING IN CEBU?

Transportation Problems

Traffic jams cause a lot of transportation problems along the road.

Extreme traffic jams might make traveling around Cebu a bit of a hassle.

Most countries have their own fair share of traffic problems, but Cebu might just be on another level. Navigation app Waze even branded it the world’s worst urban area to be a driver in 2016.

One YouTube vlogger mentioned the overwhelming number of motorcycles plus the drivers’ attitude on the road as big concerns, while an online blog notes that infrastructure in the Philippines is inferior to other countries.

Roads like the National Highway going south and the Marcelo B. Fernan bridge are notorious for extreme traffic congestion during rush hours, so be very patient when you’re traveling on the city’s busy streets.

In the province, there’s also a lack of major public vehicles like jeepneys and taxis. You will have to learn how to ride other local public transportation like the tricycle and trisikad, and commute through buses.

Filipino Time

The Philippines’ subtle absent sense of urgency makes living in Cebu seemingly slower. Everyone seems to be cool and relaxed, and that shows when traveling all around the island.

For example, shopping malls usually have very long lines. It would also be a miracle to find a line with two or three people at the supermarket at peak hours.

This is in line with the famous term “Filipino time,” where Filipinos are known to be late in many engagements. They just take their time and do not rush when going to their destinations.

However, the “slow lifestyle” is something that really benefits the countryside attractions that we all love to go to. Beaches, forests, islands, and mountains are perfect places to chill out and slow down.

Speaking English

Though it is important to know about common phrases in the Filipino language, you don’t really have to memorize a lot because the locals will mostly understand you.

Despite having eight major dialects, the Philippines is home to some of the most fluent English speakers in all of Asia. Some locals even have a very fluent American accent and will have no trouble conversing with you in English.

Filipinos are also known for code switching, which is the changing of accent or language in the middle of a conversation. Don’t be surprised when a Filipino can switch from speaking in Filipino to English (complete with the accents) very easily.

Food

Sisig

Food is a very important part of Filipino culture, and one that is worth trying for an authentic Filipino dining experience.

Food is an essential part of Filipino culture, and it also has very specific techniques and methods.

Filipinos use a spoon and fork – commonly used in Southeast Asian food culture. The spoon serves as the knife, which is used for cutting the food, while the fork pushes the food into the spoon.

Learning to eat this way will make it easier for you to adapt since most fast food chains serve their food like this.

However, many Filipinos are also known to eat with their hands, especially with the amount of dishes served in sticks and skewers.

It is also a common sight to see Filipinos have five meals per day, namely breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and late night snacks.

Filipino culture and values need some getting used to for some travelers. There are many more things that you have to experience yourself when stepping into a foreign country. Though that’s what makes traveling to an unfamiliar country fun, right? Traveling wouldn’t make sense without being able to experience different cultures.

These are things you should be prepared for before you decide on living in Cebu for good. Whether it’s for a few days, months, or years, knowing these traits will not only impress your Filipino friends, but also make your stay much more valuable.

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