SpongeBob may have square pants, but I’ve got square feet. No, not the kind you walk with, but the kind you measure with.

There are a lot of adjustments to make when moving to and living in the Philippines. I’ve touched on the differences in electricity, language, currency, cultural and more. Another that can be a bit challenging for some, myself included, is the unit of measure used there (and the rest of the world except of course the United States, Liberia and Myanmar).

Thankfully there has been some introduction to the metric system for those of us that are still in the dark ages. It is prevalent in many parts of life, just not our standard. I can remember a time while I was still in school when we were told that we would be converting to the Metric System. That never took off, much as many things political here tend not to. One administration decides one thing, a following one decides another. One step forward, one step back. But I digress…

The U.S. Metric Study recommended that the United States implement a carefully planned transition to the principal use of the metric system over a decade. Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 “to coordinate and plan the increasing use of the metric system in the United States”. The Act did not stipulate the conversion happen over a decade. Voluntary conversion was initiated, and the U.S. Metric Board (USMB) was established for planning, coordination, and public education. The public education component led to public awareness of the metric system, but the public response included resistance, apathy, and sometimes ridicule.[6] In 1981, the USMB reported to Congress that it lacked the clear Congressional mandate necessary to bring about national conversion. Because of this ineffectiveness and an effort of the Reagan administration to reduce federal spending, the USMB was disbanded in autumn of 1982.

I have trouble converting distance, or area, into metric when I have a need to do so quickly. If someone says a place is so many kilometers away, I have to ask “how long to get there?”. When looking at land, or a house, I need to do the calculation back to square feet for it to register.

Anki Bisaya Phrasebook Flashcards

I imagine this will come over time, with the benefit of living there and experiencing it on a daily bass. It will become visual as well. I believe this process is very similar to the peso issue, where those that move to the Philippines just start thinking in peso at some point, instead of converting everything in their head. It probably happens unbeknownst to the individual, just a natural progression.

In the meantime I’ll just have to deal with my square feet. SpongeBob would be proud.