Why did you move here? Bi-national relationship advice – My story.
Ever since I permanently moved to Canada, lots of people have been interested in my story. Why does a German girl decide to live in Canada? In the end my answer is simple: I fell in love with a Canadian guy and living here made most sense for our situation. Many people just like to hear our story because it really is an interesting, different and long story. Some say: “And sooo romantic!”, now I’m rather a pragmatic than romantic person and I feel a little uncomfortable when people say that. But I guess you could say it also is a romantic story. Unfortunately immigrating to another country is really not romantic. It is a tedious, exasperating and tiresome bureaucratic act. Even deciding which country you should live in, isn’t romantic. It’s a hard decision. It’s hard to leave your family and friends behind or to see your partner doing the same thing for you. So much responsibility. How can you even decide at all?
When I talked other people in similar situations, I’ve been asked many questions if they hadn’t made that decision yet and I asked many questions when I met people that made that decision a long time ago. It helped me a whole lot to just chat with others about their stories. It gave me hope, it motivated me, I’ve been given a lot of advice from practical things like where to find visa applications to what to do when you’re homesick and after all, their stories are simply fascinating!
I decided to share my story with you, interview myself and ask the same questions to fellow bi-national relationship experts as well. So over the next couple of weeks, once a week, there’ll be another captivating story for you to read.
How I came to live in Canada or my and Guillaume’s story
- Tell me a bit about yourself! My name is Leonie, I’m 30 years old and I live in Calgary, Alberta. That’s in Canada. I run my own handmade business and I write this blog. I consider myself very lucky to be able to have a job that combines my two passions: making funky stuff and writing!
- Have you always lived where you live now? No, I grew up in Germany. My parents travelled a lot with me and my brother when I was a kid, so it didn’t come as a surprise when I decided to travel to Australia for a couple of months and work a year in England after I finished my studies at university. What came as a surprise, though, was that, after a bit of back and forth between Canada, England and Germany, I decided to marry my French Canadian partner and move to Canada.
- How & when did you meet your partner? We met in Byron Bay in Australia. I had just started my travels and Guillaume had just decided to sell his Australian car and go back home to Québec. At that time we were both 25 years old. We met one night in a hostel had a nice conversation and then, unplanned, again the next night in the local bar. Talking to him was fun and, you know, stargazing at the beach as well. The next evening we met again and played some pool. It was fun and neither of us really believed that we would ever meet again. Somehow though, we started writing messages on Facebook and once I was back in Germany, talked on the phone, regularly. Still, I wasn’t taking this thing serious, I mean, Canada is so far away from Germany! But then Guillaume decided to come to Germany (after having met me 3 nights half a year before, that really gave my self-esteem a boost, seriously, I must have left a good impression!) and travel to England with me. For him it was a chance not only to see me again but also to travel in Europe for a bit. He arrived literally 3 days before I had to start my job at a school there. We drove through the Netherlands and Belgium, took the ferry to England, he visited Paris with his cousin for a bit while I had to work and then we went to Scotland in my fall holidays. In total he stayed for 2 months before he ran out of money and had to go back to his job in Calgary.
- When and how did you know it was serious? Before he left England, we had a talk and decide to take this thing serious. So I had a Canadian boyfriend now. Hum. Who would have guessed?!?
- Did you have to spend time apart? After he left England, we didn’t meet again for 8 months. That was the longest time we ever spent apart and it sucked. We talked for hours on Skype as often as we could which wasn’t easy with a time difference of 7 hours. I think it was easier for me as I was living in England, meeting lots of new people, exploring a new country while he was just back to work. What made me really happy was to receive post cards or little presents from him by mail, so cool, real mail!
- How did you decide where to live? As he had just been to Europe, it was my turn to visit him in Canada. I wasn’t keen on starting my teacher’s training in Germany anyways, so I got a working holiday visa and was able to stay for a year. At first I was so happy to see him again, that I didn’t think about anything else. Being a very optimistic person helps a lot. Finding a job? That will happen. Friends? I always find friends. And what if he’s a horrible person to live with in real life? Ahhhh, it will be ok. And it was. Somehow. But not as easy as I would have thought. I did freak out a little bit after I arrived and he had to go to work after just one day off. Well, ok, a lot. But then I pulled myself together and found a job, canvassing for the Red Cross. We even managed to save up enough to travel in Latin America for 3 months after driving through Canada in December to spend Christmas with his family and New Year’s in New York. When we came back, we spent another 2 month with his family and then moved to Germany. And got married in Denmark. Just a teeny tiny wedding with my family and a few friends. Just because we knew we wanted to live together, in the same country and not have to jump to bureaucratic hoops every couple of months. If we would have been able to live in the same country without issues, we wouldn’t have gotten married because we don’t believe in marriage as an institution. But if it helps to be able to live together, you might as well. It’s just papers after all. Living in Germany wasn’t easy. I was super unhappy with my teaching job; Guillaume had a hard time finding work because of the language barriers. It was important for me though that he experienced my culture for a while. But after one year, we had enough. Too many tears, too many unnecessary fights and why stay if you don’t like your job and everything is hard? He got his old job offered back and that’s when we knew, Canada it is!
- What’s most challenging about immigrating into another country? For me the most challenging part was to leave my family and friends behind, to find out about visas (Yes, even if you’re married it’s still a long process to get a permanent visa!) and to decide to ditch teaching completely and figure out what to do with my life. Even though the last point probably would have been the same in Germany and it was maybe a little bit easier to start all over in a new country. Also Guillaume’s support was and is irreplaceable.
- What do you love about your bi-national relationship experience? I love to have two homes now. It’s great to be able to live in and experience two cultures. I love that I have twice as many friends and two families. I love all the interesting and exciting people I got to meet in the last 2.5 years. I love the excitement, the adventure and the change. I’m happy that we had to jump through so many hoops and spend quite a lot of time apart to be together. It helped us grow together. And it definitely helped to see what we’re really like in difficult situations (which isn’t always pretty, I’m afraid!). I love that I now can give advice to other people and maybe make things a little bit easier for them.
- What advice could you give other people in similar situations? Don’t do anything you’re not happy with. If you want to take the big step and decide to move to your partner’s country, make sure you love it before taking that step. Always ask yourself: What if he/she wouldn’t be there? Relationships break, people die and I want to be able to be happy where I am, even if I find myself on my own one day. Have a Plan B. Talk to people. Ask for help. Most importantly, talk to your partner! Make sure you’re on the same page. And don’t take yourself too serious! Life’s supposed to be fun, right?
- What are your 3 favourite words? Tea, Tee and Thé. (Guess what! They all mean the same in English, German and French!)
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,