“How would Chinese boy bare one’s heart to Chinese girl?” Pedro Rodrigues asked his girlfriend just before Valentine’s Day in 2013.
“Well, he probably would say “I like you”, then the girl would need some time to consider if she wants to have a relationship with him. What about in your country?”
“I would have kissed you along time before that if we were in Portugal.”
Pedro Rodrigues from Portugal is now a researcher at Cardiff University. It does not matter whether he succeeded in kissing the Chinese girl then, because she became his girlfriend soon, although the ending is not that happy.
In the same year, Joshua, a Welsh guy fell in love with Zhang Yajing, another Chinese girl in Cardiff.
“He asked me to go for a walk with him in the park, just as a classmate, so I went with him just as a classmate,” laughed Zhang Yajing when she was asked about the start of their crush.
Now both of them are in Beijng. Joshua Dummer is doing an internship at a magazine and teaching part-time. He waited for Zhang until midnight to have dinner together on the day of his interview. It was actually sweet to hear them talking and laughing together through the phone from China, far away from Britain, Joshua’s homeland.
Distance is one of the main concerns of international relationships. That is why Joshua decided to go to China, although he had just missed his mother’s birthday several days ago.
Clara Koehler, a girl from Germany also faced this problem with her English boyfriend last year. They met each other in Wales when Clara was taking part in an exchange program, but they had to part to continue their own courses in Germany and Britain respectively. Suffering from the long-distance relationship is one reason for Clara to came back to Britain again.
“He won’t go to Germany because he doesn’t know German, so I probably will stay here, and my family at home is quite sad.”
Clara rises another important point for cross-cultural relationships – where is family in all this? Parents of these international lovers would be worried to some extent, at least in the beginning.
It has been five years since Melissa, a Belgian, got together with her boyfriend, who comes from the United Arab Emirates.
“Before I introduce him to my family, I did explain lots of things to them, because they were worried, concerning religion, as he is a Muslim, while we are not. But after they met him, this did not matter at all. He is a part of my family, absolutely.”
It was funny when Joshua Dummer first met Zhang Yajing’s family, on the second day after Joshua got to Beijing,
“He was nervous”, Zhang said. Zhang’s family were more curious about this British boy than concerned. “My grandmother asked ‘is his hair yellow?’ ‘Does he wear coloured contact lenses to make his eyes blue?’ She even touched his hair to prove her idea.”
As Pedro said, he did not know how to approach a Chinese girl at first, so he made a great effort to “ show” his knowledge about China, such as pandas, chopsticks, even Hong Kong movies.
Almost all of the couples who have been interviewed mentioned that they had learned a lot from their cross-culture partners, either in a good way, or a compromising way.
Melanie coming from Denmark has a Nigerian boyfriend. She is not as open and free as her boyfriend is in social gatherings, although he could always make her laugh.
“Sometimes his friends would just pop in and say, hi, how are you doing, and then hung around. It is kind of odd for me, because I get used to people scheduling before coming. This something I need to get used to.”
While even though Melanie needed to compromise to some extent, she believes that if two people really in love each other, there is nothing that could not be solved. Actually, her boyfriend is really devoted in this relationship, otherwise, he would not be come to Cardiff to keep her company.
People say that international relationships are harder to continue for certain reasons, some of which are mentioned above. But it seems that these people are not really well informed with the hardship, since they enjoy their relationships so much.
“Sometimes they just have to be understanding and maybe even make another step, for instance, try to learn the language” , said Meyas Al Mansour, who is Slovenian, and his girlfriend is French.
Meyas learns French for his girl, Melissa studies Arab, Clara comes to Britain, Joshua is in Beijing……These international love stories happened or are happening in Wales, and more will be on the way next year.