Top Ten List

It seems to be a requisite duty of a Fellow to provide the “You know you’re in…when” so here’s my take:

10. Rugby is life. American Football is called ‘American Rugby’. Though a Samoan-American is 40 times more likely to make the NFL than a non-Samoan American (thanks, ESPN), the more than 30 ethnic Samoan football players in the NFL, like Troy Polamalu or Junior Seau, do not have celebrity status. That fame is reserved for the Rugby players of Manu Samoa (National Team) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson born of a Samoan mother.

9. “Mmm” means Yes. If you ask, was that a “yes”? You’ll receive another “Mmm”.

8. At times, no communication can be better than bad communication. I mistakenly relayed that I was married with kids when I first arrived through a conversation in broken Enlgish. Neither is true.

7. If you ride the buses, be prepared to have someone on your lap and make stops every 200ft due to no designated bus stops and Samoans’ aversion to walking.

6. As a foreigner, the only persistent dangers are the wild dogs and sunburns. Both potentially nasty. As a local remarked to me during my first few days here: “you are not made for this sun.”

5. If you’re raised in a village, you really have more like 20 mothers there to chastise you and provide swift corporal punishment in the form of a stiff rear-end smack at any time.

4. Only in Samoa (or perhaps Scotland) are four NFL linemen-sized men singing Madonna’s “Borderline”, in lavalavas (skirts), still an intimidating sight.

3. Walking along the side of the road is like playing a game of chicken with the passing vehicles. I am convinced they want to get as close to you as possible. When a driver provides ample room to walk (and live), I know it’s an expat driving by.

2. Your mobile phone calls are very short. No introductions, no good-byes. The result of per-second charging and exorbitant rates.

1. Your deceased relatives never really leave you. Many are buried on your porch or front lawn.


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