Why did you move here? Bi-national relationship advice – Lies’ story.
Lies commented on one of my first posts about bi-national relationships and we started emailing. She is originally from Belgium and met her husband Pedro, who is from Brazil, here in Canada while experiencing the country on a working holiday visa. They are currently living in Brazil together but she is not super happy with it. Why? Well, read her story to find out more!
Tell me a bit about yourself! I am Lies, 27 and currently working as an English tutor in Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile I’m taking an online course to become a life coach and I’m trying to make some time practicing hand lettering. I am married to Pedro (one year next week!), he is 30 and also teaching English.
Have you always lived where you live now? I am originally from Belgium and Pedro is from Brazil. When we had to make a decision about where to live we thought it would be easier for me to come over here because in Belgium it would be very hard for him to find a job (Dutch is my native language, imagine a Brazilian trying to learn Dutch …) and in Brazil I could easily work teaching English without even speaking any Portuguese. We’ve been living here for 1 and a half years now but life in Brazil is very hard and far from beautiful like everyone thinks. That is why we have decided to follow our hearts and (hopefully) move back to Canada in the near future. Canada is where we met and where we both feel happy and see ourselves getting old 😀
How & when did you meet your partner? 4 years ago I went to Vancouver on a work and holiday visa for one year. I started working in a restaurant and that is where we met. At first I had no interest at all in dating Pedro, because, let’s face it, Brazilians just want to have fun, right? But after 6 months, on Valentine’s day exactly, we spent the evening together and yes, that’s where it all started …
When and how did you know it was serious? 5 months later I had to leave Vancouver because my visa expired. We both knew this day would come and decided not to wait for the other since we had no idea when or how to meet each other again. 1 week after arriving back in Belgium we couldn’t spend a day without calling, mailing or skyping. As I had already planned a trip to South America 2 months after, it was hard to make any plans on meeting each other again. But then in December Pedro decided to come back to Brazil and since I was in Argentina it was very easy to take a plane and finally I met him again after 7 months! I stayed with him for another 3 months (visa issues again) and that’s how it all got really serious and we lived happily ever after … 😀
Did you have to spend time apart? The first time we hadn’t seen each other for 7 months. The second time I had to leave Brazil for 9 months before the country would let me in again. Luckily Pedro came over in the middle so we had to be apart from each other for 2 times 4 months. I have to say that this period was very hard and emotional for me. But on the other hand it makes your relationship so much stronger and if you survive this distance as a couple, you just know that things are good.
How did you decide where to live? As I have already said it seemed a lot easier for us to move to Brazil. I could work there (even without a visa) and Rio De Janeiro sounded pretty cool. Now we both really regret the choice of coming back here, but we stay positive and work hard on a better future one day.
What’s most challenging about immigrating into another country? In my situation moving to Brazil was particularly challenging because of the huge cultural differences. Europe (or Belgium) and South-America are so different and still today I am having a hard time adapting and accepting life over here. When I first arrived here we had to live with his family (parents, grandmother, brother, sister) and that was really hard for me because we had no privacy at all and Brazilian culture is loud and suuuuper energetic 24/7. We’ve been living in our own apartment for a year now, close to the beach but far from the city centre because rent over here is super expensive (yes everything but food in Brazil is incredible expensive!)
I’m still struggling with the relaxed culture over here because everything goes suuper slow (going to the supermarket takes FOREVER, going anywhere takes forever, cause traffic is insane 24/7)) and it is hard to make any kind of appointment since time in Brazil does not exist (8 a.m. might be 9 or whenever the other person feels like showing up). It’s also pretty hard to make real friends. I know a lot of people, but it’s all kinda superficial. When I don’t think about it, it’s ok, but sometimes it just hits me and then I realize how much I miss my life, friends and family back in Belgium. But like I said, this is temporary and I try to make the best out of every day. 🙂 Luckily my husband really helps me through this. If you can’t count on the other, there is no sense of putting so much effort into all of this. It’s hard and it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship, but on the other hand it also makes you very strong as a couple and a person.
What do you love about your bi-national relationship experience? I love experiencing every single thing I am going through. I have wished many times to have a ‘normal’ life in a ‘normal’ country, but then I realize how fortunate I am facing these differences and challenges that have taught me so much about life and myself. Having a bi-national relationship puts everything in perspective and it shows you how different things can actually be.
What advice could you give other people in similar situations? Even though you are facing all these difficulties, never give up because if you really want to be with this one person, you are capable of handling everything. Also: communication! You need to really understand each other, understand the difficulties the other one is going through and support, no matter what. You have to know that you can count on the other because if you feel the other one doesn’t want to put as much effort as you are putting there is no way it is going to work.
What are your 3 favourite words? Liefje (Dutch for ‘my love’ , but cuter ), pineapple, appelblauwzeegroen (an invented Dutch color: apple blue, sea green)
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Lies!
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,