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Comparisons: Expat Living

A scale weighing apples and oranges.

Constantly comparing your old home to your new one can make you grumpy and bring you grief. We can’t help making comparisons, though. Just be sure you’re not comparing apples to oranges.

Apples To Oranges

A widely used expression is “comparing apples to oranges”. It means, when you’re making a comparison, a judgment, make sure all things are equal.

“Apples have less Vitamin C than oranges,” is a fair comparison.

“Apples are more crunchy than oranges,” is unfair to say. Oranges aren’t supposed to be “crunchy”! If you want to compare crunchy, you should compare Fuji apples to Macintoshes.

Crunchy to crunchy. Apples to apples, see?

We, expats, have to be careful that we’re giving our new home a fair shake in the comparison game.

Water And Wine


About a month ago, I was complaining about our water pressure being low or the supply being out altogether. Some people thought I was being unfair. “Davao has only had a water authority for 40 years,” they said. “Cut them a break!”

But I don’t think I was comparing apples to oranges. My hometown in New Jersey supplies water to about 20,000 people, easily the same number of people as live in my service area here.

The water company back there was founded only fifty years ago and the system doesn’t spring leaks and have to be shut down two or three times each month. I think I was fair.


Everyone who reads this blog probably knows I like all kinds of booze. Out of the choices of white or red wine, I like red wine more.

Yet when I go to the supermarket or the wine shop, I never complain about the lack of American brands on the shelves. 

Here in the Philippines, there are mostly the big American wine brands. Americans would consider them to be, I don’t want to say “bad”, but not the best. It’s like the difference between Budweiser and Pyramid Snow Cap (which I would kill for right now).

So instead of buying the American brands, I learned to try brands I never heard of. I am now absolutely in love with Spanish reds like Rioja. I’ve had Argentine Malbec, South African Shiraz and Australian Merlot.

It would be unfair of me to compare the availability of American wines here, 7,000 miles away from the place!

As expats, we have to adapt. But that doesn’t mean we should feel we never have a right to grumble. We just have to be careful that we’re not expecting too much, that we’re not comparing apples to oranges!



5 Responses to Comparisons: Expat Living

  1. Queenie November 21, 2017 at 7:33 PM #

    JD–the imported oranges here, taste much better than the imported apples.:)


    • JD November 22, 2017 at 4:42 PM #

      Haha! You know it, Queenie! I’ve never seen anything but Fujis and Granny Smiths here and I came from Seattle where apples were like Starbucks drinks: many and varied. Oranges, please.

      Happy Thanksgiving. Will you be putting your can of cranberry sauce on the table? 🙂

      • Queenie November 22, 2017 at 6:33 PM #

        Hahaha I knew that you could relate JD! I enjoy a lot of new wine varieties here too. Not much of an expert on wine, but I find many varieties at S&R and other supermarkets that are very reasonably priced, and a lot from around the world.

        I agree that one often must try to look for the silver lining in many aspects, but luckily for the most part we learn to “roll” with things here.

        No–I think that I’ll save it for Christmas, although I’d better hurry up and use it–I noticed some rust on the top of the can!:)

        Just a low key and untraditional Thanksgiving this year. We never seem to do the same thing twice, and without the thoughts of Pilgrims here I’m ok with that. Thankful nonetheless.

        Happy Thanksgiving to you too JD!

  2. kathy denatale November 22, 2017 at 2:03 AM #

    Very good, you have always been a pretty logical guy. Anyone who moves to another country should not expect things to be the same as “home”. If you can’t adapt, don’t stay and if you can you are in for a happy life. Hug Ms. Menchu, she seems to be the best thing that ever happened to you!!! Have a happy holiday season.

  3. JD November 22, 2017 at 4:49 PM #

    It’s a process, Kath. When you first get to your chosen country, everything is new and cool and odd/humorous. After a while, the newness wears off and you realize you have to live every day with those “odd” things.It’s very easy to start resenting that things are maybe not what you thought – or maybe not as easy to adapt to as you thought. Eventually, if you’re wise, you turn the fire down under your kettle until you simmer and then until you just steam. I don’t think the fire ever goes out completely, though. 🙂

    I will hug Menchu and you’re right: she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Enjoy your holidays, too!

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