Home / Various and Sundry / Living in Mexico / 10 things I have learned from being an ex-pat

10 things I have learned from being an ex-pat

10 things I have learned from being an ex-pat seemed like an easy topic. We’re starting our second decade of living in Merida.  I thought that this list would just write itself but it’s getting harder and harder to point out the extraordinary things to you because quite frankly, it’s all normal.

10 things that I have learned from being an ex-pat

  1. I have food issues. While I willing eat goat, sheep, tongue, liver, and in theory- grasshoppers, it bothers me that the deli-lady cuts our bacon in the wrong direction.
  2. I’m rude. Not by American standards, but by Mexican standards. I sometimes will walk around the block so I don’t have to stop and chat about the weather with our neighbor who sits in front of his doorway. I often forget to kiss and say hello to everyone in the room when I enter. Ditto for when I exit.
  3. I’m not sure what American cuisine is. Mexicans will ask me about American food, and I have no idea what to tell them. I fall back on meatloaf and mashed potatoes or pizza as an American meal. I had to look up Rotel.
  4. Any day is a good day to have a parade, or shoot off firecrackers. Just enjoy it, it’s okay.
  5. I’m a social liar. I tell the Jehovah Witness’s that I am Catholic, I ask for bids for merchandise that I have no intention of buying-just to get the salesperson off my back and I accept invitations to social events that I have no intention to attend rather than explain why I can’t make it.
  6. I don’t need as much stuff as I used to think I did. When we first moved here we either had someone bring us stuff from NOB (north of the border) or we did without. Now when people ask if they can bring me something, I honestly can’t think of much. The only thing on my list right now is a spiralizer.
  7. I’m not bi-lingual. I moved here thinking I was bi-lingual, my mom said that I wasn’t. Mom was right. Oh, I am fairly fluent these days, but sometimes, while I understand every single word, I still have no idea what the person actually means. I’ve lost my ability to spell in English, I find myself using i instead of e and cion instead of tion. I’m illiterate in two languages.
  8. I really miss my kids and grandkids. This is just about the only reason I would want to move back.
  9. I”m lazy. Sevicio a domicilio is one of my favorite things. It totally floored me when I was visiting my daughter  and the only place that delivered food was Dominos Pizza. I have the fruit cart come by, Juan de las flores who sells me plants, the flan man rides by on his trici with the loud speaker blaring “Llegaron los flanes, completamente caseros”( the flans have arrived, totally homemade), a couple of times a day. Superama delivers groceries, the farmacy delivers meds, and even doctors make housecalls.
  10. It’s okay if people don’t show up. If someone is supposed to come at a certain hour and doesn’t show, I can either call them, wait some more, or leave. The world won’t end.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. I’m illiterate in two languages.

    I agree with Joanne. Perfect line. Even though my Spanish is abysmal, I lose at least a dozen English nouns each day. If not for my blog, I suspect I would soon be mistaken for a deaf-mute.

  2. This is too funny. While I’m not an expat, I can totally identify with #3 and #7, especially the bit about “understanding every single word and still having no idea what the person meant.” As for number 5, that would show that you are assimilating as it’s apparently standard operating procedure in Mexico.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where our time in Mexico has taught us many things about the USA that went formerly unnoticed.

    • Thanks Kim,
      Your Spanish is great, it makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one. Yesterday, I had a moment where I couldn’t process what someone said, I started worrying about early onset Altzheimer’s but realized it was just hearing Spanish and thinking in English, which I rarely do.

      Another thing I should have added to the list, there are some things I just won’t do. Shower caps in bright pink with pig ears for example. Ours needs replacing, the only one I found was the pig, I’d rather put a plastic bag over my head than hang that thing in my shower. Years ago, I would have gone with the pig, no idea why I’ve drawn the line there.


      • Hola Theresa,

        Your reply made me laugh out loud on that bit about the shower cap. I’m thrilled to see you have inviolable standards!!! LOL

        Thanks for the compliment on my Spanish! I’ve definitely worked hard on it.

        Saludos y un abrazo,


  3. This list was great! I had to read it to my husband, and we both had a good laugh. We have lived in Argentina, Honduras, and Belize, and plan to move to Merida from our Nor Cal home in 2 years when my last one leaves the next. These are all things we remember fondly of our time living abroad and look forward to being illiterate in 2 languages and needing a lot less stuff in our lives.

    • Hi Wendy,

      I’m from Northern Californa too! Merida is a great place to live, getting better all the time. The Spanish will be a bit different than what you are used to, but you’ll figure it out.


  4. Love this list!

    I too am illiterate in two languages – I can no longer spell in English. This makes doing crossword puzzles extra tricky.
    Sometimes I ache with missing our kids. If we ever had grandkids I’d probably have a total melt down. Thank goodness for seat sales. I now accept all invitations and if I don’t show up, it is without qualms. And my FAVOURITE thing is that I am never late for anything anymore! Hooray for Mexican Time!

    • Hi Joanne,
      My biggest challange is to not be too early. Except for doctor appointments. Thanks for braving the new comment protecol and leaving one. Us bloggers live for the comments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top