Love Abroad: 10 things I wish I knew

I have found out there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. – Mark Twain

Ah, LOVE aboard. Being in another country and meeting that wonderful, cute stranger with the hypnotic accent. And then being sweep off your feet. Spending the days gallivanting new towns and spending the nights star gazing. Sounds like a fairy tale ?

But this is not how my story happened. First, I’m going to give a little back ground of myself. When it comes to relationship and guys, I am awkward. I’ve never really had anyone serious before. Most of the guys I hung with just wanted “fun”. I remember one guy telling me, “You do you, and I do me.” Ok, not really sure what that means, but I guess having a serious relationship was never in my mind or any of the guys I  hung out with. And the ones who would of been wonderful boyfriends, I didn’t feel the same way; so it was a friend zone for me. I am not saying I went out and rendez-vous with everyone. Far from it. It was more I would hang with them, and just felt nothing and just wanted to be friends. So when our relationship started is was a whole new ball game I’ve never played…

Now back to love aboard. Lets call him Monsieur. I remember telling my friends back home, and they said it was every girls dream. I said I guess? We met through Helpx, and started our traveling adventure in Northland. We started just as traveling buddies. I remember before meeting him we would e-mail and I thought “O goodness what is this guy talking about?” There were moments when we were traveling when I thought he would kill me or I would kill him.We both agreed that starting a relationship in another country with someone from another country is the DUMBEST, WORST plan ever. But call it fate, destiny, the stars aligning, someone controlling us, or what you want; after multiple times of trying to separate we ending up back together. After 4 months of traveling and trying to split we decided to take the risk…..

Was it a relationship set up for failure before it even begins? I personally don’t think so, BUT I wish there were some things we did or that I thought of before taking the dive: (It may seem like I am contradicting myself a lot, but it’s just thoughts I have)

  1. Give each other space
    If you do start a relationship while traveling, you will be together 24/7 especially if you work at the same place. Versus a “normal” (by normal I mean ..) a relationship where you can say “Au revoir, I’m going home to my own personal space. Or we’ll go to work for 8 hours a day and I will see you after work.” You really won’t have personal space. Even in marriages you can have your personal time and space. But it’s hard while traveling because you’re sharing a van, or staying at a hostel with other people. And if you two work together…. Need I say more? I suggest going for a walk by yourself sometimes or go fishing. Just give each other that 1 hour a day just to have your alone time. I wish I would of thought of this before because there were times when we needed our alone time.
  2. Lost in translation
    Maybe you meet someone who speaks the same native language as you (so this may not pertain to you), but most of the people I met had a different native language. There will be times when the non-native speaker may not be able to express what they really want to say; so it may come out the wrong way and may make both of you upset. One wrong word because that person doesn’t know the “right” word and the whole conversation can turn wrong, so unnecessary fights may happen. BUT I think communication is key. This is for all relationships in general. You just have to be more understanding,  AND listen to what you are trying to tell each other.  I personally think the language of Love is the same in all countries.
  3. Respect their Culture
    One culture may be more romantic than the other. Or they may do something you don’t understand. Instead of trying to make it an argument make it something to talk about. Explain to your partner why you do this in your home country. Don’t get mad at that person, and say “I” or “you” will never understand because this could make them feel insignificant and that you don’t care about him or her. You have to remember both of you were brought up differently. And what makes your relationship  interesting and amazing is being able to take these two different cultures and create something unique and beautiful.
  4. You’re both trying “to find yourself”…. But you can “create yourself”
    (This is one of those contradicting topics I was talking about.) This may sound cliche and cheesy, but if you’re both backpacking around you may be lost and “trying to find yourself“.You may not be able to find your self with that person or maybe you will. You may hold your self back on doing things because he or she may not want to; so your travels may be compromised because you did not do something. Or you may do something you never thought you would do because of your partner. He or she may say “Let’s do this” and now you’re experiencing something you thought you  wouldn’t thanks to your partner. I also think life is also about “creating yourself” as well, and who knows you may be able to create a different path with that person. Some people may think that traveling isn’t “real life”. Well you’re living, breathing, and loving that’s real life right? Traveling is not the “real life” that society has created, but if you’re willing to create the life you want than having a serious relationship aboard can be possible. There is a difference between “finding” and “creating” yourself. ( but we will get to that idea another day)
  5. Marriage DOES NOT have to be the answer
    When I read of some relationships forming aboard, they think marriage has to be the answer right away. Or they can’t be together. I think we live in a generation where anything is possible. I know it won’t be easy and it will be an obstacle, but this is a vinegar that needs to done if you want to be together. Check to see if both of you have a visa in another country; go there travel and work some more. Maybe one person can teach in the other person’s country depending on where they are from. This will allow the expatriate to see if they enjoy the other culture without fulling committing yet. There are other possibilities you just have to be willing to look at them all.
  6. You CAN’T predict the future
    You or your partner can not predict the future. Who knows maybe this is the one? So you can never know unless you take the risk with that person. I think if you find someone who makes you happy and you’re compatible with then why not be with them even if he or she is from another country. Because life is to short to settle for someone who is convenient.
  7. Think positively
    This sounds like another cliche, but it’s true. If you both have negative thoughts about your relationship, then you will act negatively towards it. If you’re already going to think you’re going to fail, you probably will. I believe that being optimistic always helps. This concept isn’t just for relationships; it can be applied to all aspects of your life.
  8. Trust
    It is easy to get jealous because you are always meeting new people; so you may think does my partner like that person? I mean they have a cool accent as well. I remember that he said he likes Spanish and Italians girls, and when I saw some a little part of me got nervous. But you just have to trust each other and know that both are you going to meet new people. Some of those people you or your partner will click with right away, but that does not mean he or she likes them. While traveling you will meet wonderful, interesting, beautiful people, but he or she still choose to be with you after meeting all these people; so trust them.
  9. Don’t let the judgements get to you
    It’s hard to do something when you are getting discouraged. It’s even harder when it’s from some friends and family members who say, “This is ridicules, what are you doing.” And with their negative thoughts it’s easy to form questions and doubts. Which can lead you to do some irrational things and do something you don’t want to because you are afraid of being judge. I wish I didn’t let the judgements of other people get the better of me.
  10. Live in the moment, Not the future
    This is very important. Because if you keep thinking about the future rather than the present time with the person it will be time and energy wasted. And you may sabotage the relationship just because it will be easier to break up if you’re “mad” at each other. I remember getting mad for no reason because my mind was already thinking of the time we would split instead of thinking about our moment right then and there. And I regret  not living in that moment with him at that time; instead of I was living in the future, and to make it worse a negative future for us.

Would I change anything about my relationship with Monsieur ? (There is just one mistake that I did but that’s a different story) Absolutely NOT. I’ve learned a lot about myself with him and what I want. He exposed me to a culture that I adore now. And I’ve learned that I loved our bi-cultural relationship and learning something new everyday from each other’s culture. Even though, there were moments when we would looked at each with our confused faces I loved it. When I put on Destiny’s Child “Say my name”, he sat there in the car with me singing it with me, or when I taught him the acronym TMI  (Too Much Information) he would not stop laughing. When he shared a simple French recipe called croque monsieur, which is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with an egg it became my favorite dish while traveling. These are the moments that will make you forget that you are traveling with them.

If you meet someone while traveling, do what you feel is right for yourself. Because you may never know that person could be your future someone. Or maybe not. It will be a relationship to remember. But being a product of a bi-cultural relationship, I think it is possible for one person to move to that country and learn their language and culture. My mother moved to the States when she was 28, and she learned English, got a job, and learned the culture as well. I guess this is not a foreign concept to myself (ha see what I did there) I’m sure it will take time and patiences like any relationship.

*Disclaimer: I am not a relationship guru. I am an awkward relationship girl. But I think that if you meet someone aboard or in your home town and you have a good vibe, share a mutual feeling , makes you laugh, share the same values and interests, have that connection, and all the other basics. Why not ? As the Tooties Pop Owl says “The World may never know”

Have you ever formed a relationship aboard? If you did, how did you manage it?


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