Ave and I have both left our lives behind for love. We moved across continents, to other corners of the world and left behind our family, friends, culture and lifestyle.
Recently, I started watching a reality show called 90 Day Fiancé (I’m a reality show addict – self-admitted) and it brought up so many things that I too have experienced with my move. In case you’ve never watched this show, WATCH IT. It’s about a few American men who have fallen in love with women who live abroad and bring them to the US under a 90-day fiancé visa.
You meet the couple from the point that the visa is approved and the gals are heading to the US to plan the wedding. Then you follow them through the difficult path of culture shock, a new language, and co-existing with a person they haven’t spent much ‘real’ time with.
I feel for each of those girls – because I’ve been through it all myself. (And I’m still going through it)
1) Mistrust from the partner’s family
I’ve been through all kinds – awesome families who have taken me in as a daughter and realized that I am truly in love with their son…
AND the unfortunate another side of the coin: the mistrustful and miserable ‘mother-in-law’ who absolutely hated me from the get-go. Sometimes, certain parents will feel very suspicious of foreign ladies, and this is largely inspired by racist assumptions and questioning of our true motives.
My ex’s horrible mother thought I was out to get two things from her son – a green card and money. Why? Plain and simple, because I’m Latin American.
Let’s start by making it very clear: I was madly in love with her son. There was no money to be attracted to and he wasn’t a great catch in the very least from a professional, academic or financial standpoint. I couldn’t have any ulterior motives because there was little to gain from that relationship aside from his heart.
Regardless, there was no way to beat that assumption away from the family. To them, I was what they thought of me, and this was one of the reasons I ended that relationship, even after moving to another country in part because of him.
2) Lack of integration with friends
My current boyfriend’s friends are really great people. They’re outgoing, entertaining, nice and open to taking me in as a part of the group.
But you know what I just can’t do? I can’t integrate into that group of friends… I just can’t do it.
I lack the ability to speak the language as fast as they do, I have to concentrate and place so much focus on understanding their slang and fast, multi-topic conversations, and a lot of the time they talk about things that I’m unfamiliar with.
I was once in a concert with a few of them… they were all singing along to the songs and I was standing in the corner because I barely knew the singer. Hanging out with my boyfriend’s friends makes the language and cultural gap really stand out to me… and boy does it make me feel like a foreigner.
3) Overwhelming changes: new culture, new language, new friends, new people, new everything!
No two places are alike. Believe you and me, Bolivia and Israel are two incredibly different places and there’s plenty of culture shock to deal with when you go from one to the other.
The two biggest shocks are the language and difference in overall mannerisms and personalities. It’s hard to adapt to a new alphabet, new sounds, new words and new expressions. Sometimes I look at products in the supermarket not quite understanding if I have the right ingredient on hand because I’m not familiar with the word. When I watch the news, I only understand half of what is being said. This might sound petty, but it’s oddly stressful and disheartening.
If you have an awesome partner, he’ll be patient with you. He’ll help you on the way and take your side to battle it out, no matter how small the battle. He’ll teach you, show you and support you in any way that you can.
Even with a great partner on your side, assimilating and getting used to a new culture is so difficult. You will always be an immigrant, you will likely always have an accent, you probably look different and you may even act differently than those around you.
End of the day, moving abroad for your partner in order to give an opportunity to your mutual love is difficult, especially if you become the ‘foreign’ one in the situation. But if you love each other, if he’s good to you and he’s as committed to the relationship as you are, he’ll make the whole challenge worth it.