A personal account of love in a foreign land
Falling in love in a foreign country: it’s definitely a fantasy many women dream of! Here, we have one writer’s fantasy-turned-reality, and she shares with us her personal story of the ups and downs of love, which knows no borders.
It was always my dream to live and write in Europe. So in 2006, I went to Bratislava, Slovakia and worked as an ESL instructor and writer. The best part of it was this amazing lifestyle that consisted of teaching, writing and travelling all across Europe. However, it felt bittersweet because, after four years of living the ultimate single girl life in Bratislava, I fell in love with a Croatian man named Rimad.
I had just visited Zagreb, Croatia on one of my trips where I met Rimad, and we immediately started dating. I still had my independent life in Brats city, so it started out as a long-distance relationship. Seeing I was no stranger to failed long-distance relationships, we both talked about the challenges we were likely to face down the road but, then again, what relationship isn’t challenging?
Nearly a year went by and Rimad asked me to move in with him in Zagreb. I knew that if I moved into his flat, I would have to quit my job and leave my life in Brats city. I asked myself: “Am I truly ready to commit myself to this man?” The answer was, “yes”. Being in love is one thing, however, and moving in with someone in a foreign country had to be planned out.
But we did it and, as like any young couple in love, we got on really great at the beginning. One advantage of living together was that we loved to travel together: he took me to Venice and Italy, and we spent summer holidays by the Adriatic Sea.
During the relationship, we were very close, as he was my inspiration to write. We talked all the time and I enjoyed it so much, as there was no language barrier between us. His fluency in English was so impressive that it made me feel like I was talking to a friend back home.
This relationship was great because when you’re an expat in a relationship with a local, you learn about each other’s cultures on a deeper, more personal level.
But the reality is that cultures can clash, especially if both of you have different dreams. That’s what eventually ended it: after almost two years, we simply couldn’t agree on where to settle down. I wanted to go back Toronto someday and he never wanted to leave his country. So in the end, I learned that if neither person in the relationship wants to take big leaps together, it’s better to separate than stay with someone who isn’t willing to meet you halfway. After all, compromise is a very important component in any relationship.
But I definitely don’t regret the way my life panned out in Europe. I accomplished my goal of writing and publishing a novel, and can say that I achieved something wonderful—I loved a truly great person.
Hazel Lorraine is a Canadian writer and model from Toronto. She has a B.A. in Psychology and Communications from York University and was a contestant in the 2003 Miss Universe Canada pageant. As a writer, she has written the novel Diary of an (Un)Glamourous Model (available at amazon.ca and Indigo Chapters). She is also a contributor for Yahoo! News.
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