Moving abroad is an exciting time. It is an opportunity for one to grow while discovering a new culture, learning a language and meeting new friends. For most people, these three factors are already exciting enough to not even think of the possibility of falling in love with someone overseas. But like most things in life, you don’t expect it to happen. Finding a significant other is something spontaneous and can happen anytime and anywhere. When that moment happens abroad, things get a little bit more complicated.
Here are some of the challenges when falling in love abroad:
There is only so many holidays in a year and when you come from another city or country, you need to carefully use your holidays to make sure you have enough to split between your own trips and visiting family. Depending on where you are from, traveling can be super expensive and flying during holidays doubles the price!
For example, when you start a relationship with someone and you want your family to meet him/her, it is not as easy as taking them home. You really have to fly and put in a real effort, both in money and time to make it happen. It is also more interesting because it is an opportunity for you to show your partner your favourite places, where you grew up and the many cultural differences in your country. There are so many differences to discuss and to compare that makes conversations fun!
2. Language Barriers
It is no doubt that one can express themselves best in their native language. When two people come together from different backgrounds, you need to decide which language is the best to communicate. What is the common language? Who is the better speaker in one language or the other? Are you learning each other languages? What if both of you are not native languages of English but uses English as the medium of communication?
Sometimes, partners have a way to communicate in a language that they are both fluent in, but the parents may not have the same proficiency, so when you visit, you need to find a way to communicate using non-verbal communication. Somewhere in-between, there is bound to have some miscommunication but that is all part of the learning curve!
3. Long Distance
Somewhere in between, couples from different countries might have some time apart and have to deal with long distance. This could be the result of going home for continuing studies, career progression elsewhere, and/or the end of visa permit. Dealing with time difference and emotions involved in being physically apart is a real test for couples and whether they can stay together long-term and whether they can make it through this hurdle. You really have to put a lot of effort to maintain the relationship and to schedule video calls as much as possible.
But if it works out, it may lead to happily ever ever. Which leads to deciding your….
4. Permanent Residency
When your relationship gets serious, choosing a place to live can be tricky. Will you stay in the country or will you go back home? Will you live in your partner’s country (if that is not where they are from) or will you both move elsewhere together? Where are the job opportunities?
Can you both adapt to the environment (whether that is climate, work culture or lifestyle)? All these questions play a huge role in deciding a place where you can call “home” and it is complicated when you need to find the middle ground between two people. It is also very complex trying to navigate visa requirements and restrictions, and how two people can stay together long-term. It might even means dealing with hundreds of immigration papers and the whole immigrant experience as well.
As Theodore Roosevelt had once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having unless it means effort, pain and difficulty,” because only then we learn to appreciate our life so much more. Being in any relationship is not easy, but having to deal as an expat makes it much more fulfilling.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.