Canadian-Danish intercultural relationship – the difficulties of relocation

in Couple Profile

Share:

intercultural dating, Holland and Belgium 204
Leaving behind a career that gives you independence, selling a newly paid off car and brand new furniture, processing, waiting and praying for your visa to get approved and packing all that you can in a few suit cases, relocating to a foreign country and learning a new language and culture might scare a whole lot of you. But if that means being together with the man that you love, it’s definitely worth it.

It’s a big decision to make if you are to go for an intercultural relationship. And it’s never a one-man-task. It takes two. Adapting to a new culture and coming to terms with the challenges, disappointments and happiness that your relationship brings can only be possible with the help of your other half who will sustain you through the process.

The offbeat couple

A nurse whose grandma thinks she looks like Oprah but only prettier, and a cowboy who pursues engineering career, make an intercultural relationship that doesn’t seem too challenging from the outside, well, at least for two people with the same race. Lindsay and Henry have been together since July 2009 and they embrace differences while living together in Aarhus, Denmark. Lindsay shares about how it’s like to live with a cowboy and her new experiences such as milking a cow at her blog My Life as a Foreigner.

What makes your relationship offbeat?

intercultural dating, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise 077I am Canadian, he is Danish. We met while he was living in Canada, working as a cowboy. After spending a year and a half in Canada together, we decided to make the move to Denmark, so he could go to University for free, and actually get paid by his government.

What made you end up in an interracial/interfaith relationship? What was your motivation in deciding to date someone of different culture or faith?

I ended up in an intercultural relationship because I met an amazing guy, and could not get enough of him. He was (and still is) one of the smartest, most interesting, hard working, loyal, patient, supportive, and adventurous people I have ever met. His culture was irrelevant at the time we met, to whether or not I would date him, no matter where he came from, he was almost too good to be true, and certainly no one I was about to pass up.

Tell us about the courtship. How did you meet? Did your different religious or cultural background affect your decision to pursue the relationship?

As I mentioned, he was working as a cowboy in Canada, about 2 hours away from the city I was living in at the time. He and some of his cowboy friends came to my city to go to the Country/western themed bar there. I was there with some of my nursing friends, and that is where we met. He was dressed in full on cowboy attire, which is not exactly my style, but he was sweet and charming, and had a strange accent, so we spent the evening chatting. We exchanged numbers and proceeded to go on a few dates. He was such an unusually, interesting guy for me. I had never dated anyone quite like him before. A Danish cowboy? Who would have thought? He spoke many languages, had traveled Europe extensively, had lived in South Dakota as a ranch hand, and enjoyed things like reading horse training books and rope braiding. I did not learn too much about his cultural background until I actually moved to Denmark with him, what I was learning about while we were in Canada was the cowboy culture. Little did I know what I was in for when it came to learning about the Danish culture.

What are your biggest challenges (as an interracial couple) and how do you solve them?

intercultural dating, Smell Gooder in Kelowna 060Being Canadian and Danish probably does not sound all that different or challenging to people. I mean, we are the same race, have a language in common, and do have similar cultures. However, as prepared as I tried to be to move to Denmark with him, it took me quite by surprise just how difficult it was (and still is) to adjust. First of all, I can not work at my nursing career in his country, at least not until I am fluent in Danish, and they are hiring nurses again. In fact, it is difficult to find work at any job in this country, without being able to speak Danish. Living off of one income, when we are used to living off of two, has been a big challenge. I still have student loan payments from taking my education in Canada that I have to pay, and I also stress about not having much money to take care of my everyday needs. I have never depended on anyone to take care of me financially, and we are both feeling the stress of that. Secondly, I am being challenged with learning the language. My boyfriend is very supportive and helpful, but I still find it frustrating at times, especially when you are in a group of Danes, and everyone is talking and laughing, while you are not understanding anything and are feeling lonely and left out. I have been struggling with feeling inadequate, missing my social life, becoming dependent on my boyfriend, not feeling like my usual, fun, outgoing self, and missing my career. All the personal challenges that I have to work to overcome have also put a large strain on my boyfriend, causing both of us stress, and has at times brought out an entirely new, not particularly fun to be around, side of myself that neither of us are used to dealing with. We cope with all of this by trying our best to communicate about everything. While we are pretty good at communication, I can honestly say that I probably would have packed up and moved back to Canada long ago, if it wasn’t for the constant support, patience, love, and positivity that my boyfriend has shown me. Honestly, I did the work when it came to getting my visa, and sacrificed all of my belongings and my career back in Canada to make this move, but once I got here, I was kind of at a loss for what to do next, and since then, he has pulled us through all of my rough patches and uncertainty. Now that I am getting more settled, am learning Danish, am socializing, traveling more, and have found part time work, I am finally settling in and feeling more content. There are still good and bad days, as there always will be, but our love for each other, and determination to make this work, keeps us going strong.

Even if a relationship is same-faith, there are still differences in some core values. Are there particular values and beliefs where you and your partner differ?

intercultural dating, Canadian-DanishWe often talk about our morals and values, and fortunately enough, we are on the same page 98% of the time!

Did you ever encounter people who frown upon your interracial/intercultural relationship? How did you deal with them?

I think the only people that frown on our intercultural/international relationship are my family. They love my boyfriend, and see that I am happy and having an incredible life experience by living in his country, but they miss me! Even though they want the best for me, they would not be heartbroken if I moved back to Canada, and never came to Denmark again. 🙂

Are your families and friends supportive of your intercultural relationship?

Fortunately, no. This is one of the situations where being in a Danish-Canadian relationship, is not that difficult, as we have similar traditions and values.

How do you benefit from your intercultural relationship?

We have both lived in, and traveled extensively in each others countries. I have had the opportunity to learn a new language, travel Europe, and learn to be accustomed to a foreign way of life. For me personally, this has inspired my writing career, and brought out an entirely new side of myself, and taught me so many new things about myself and the world we live in. All of the challenges we have endured in our international relationship (he was deported for a few months when we lived in Canada, and I am struggling at times to adjust to Danish life), have made our relationship stronger, and taught us that it is worth persevering for.

What compromises are required in order to make your relationship work?

intercultural dating, London 2011 218Currently I am compromising my career, and missing my family and my 7 month old niece grow up. When we lived in Canada, he was missing his family and friends. No matter where we choose to live, which ever one of us is living outside of our home country is making some sort of sacrifice. We always say that life would be easier if we were from the same place, but we are not, and we love each other, so we make it work. Being together is worth a few sacrifices. It can be risky to step out of your comfort zone, and give up your financial security and social safety net, and leave your family and friends behind, but without risk, there can be no reward.

After marriage, who is moving to whose country and learn the language? Would you find difficulty in processing the visas? Have you discussed about where to build the family and put down roots?

If we got married, I would have to learn Danish, and take an extensive immigration exam to live in Denmark, within the first three months. We are not married presently, and the Danish government is covering the cost of me learning Danish, which is helpful. In Denmark, most young people here speak English, but the longer I stay here, the more necessary it becomes for me to learn Danish, especially so I can work as a nurse again!  The visa process is much stricter in Denmark than it is in Canada, but I know people from North America who have married Danish people, and they say it is not so hard.

We have discussed where we would live permanently, and we really can not decide until he finishes his education. By that time, I will have hopefully learned Danish fluently, but I feel in my heart, when it is time for me to start a family, I will want to live closer to my family.

After marriage, children will come. Of which culture do you think you would raise them?

We are not quite at the place where we talk too seriously about how we would raise our children. We do have similar cultures and values, so the big question is, which country we would live in.

What’s your favorite way of spending time together?

We love traveling and exploring new places together. When we have downtime at home, we usually watch movies (or go to the theater), or have dinner over a bottle of wine.

What’s the funniest moment in your intercultural relationship?

intercultural dating, Christmas Vacation 09 030There have been a lot of funny moments, but one that stands out, is us going through the process of actually getting ourselves and our things to Denmark. It was not so funny at the time, but we carted our tired selves and 310 pounds of luggage on a 2 hour ferry ride, 2 hour drive, 10 hours of flying on three different planes, through 5 time zones, and then another 5 hour drive to get here. We just barely caught our final connection flight, and the flight attendants total hated us when we breathlessly ran on the plane, sweaty and exhausted, carting far more carry on luggage than we were entitled to, or they had room for. The German flight attendant glared at us and said “well, you brought your entire closets with you!” Eventually she found a spot to put it, and we got our seats. Once I buckled up I ate my complimentary chocolate bar through my tears. Like I said, it wasn’t funny then, but it sure is funny now. Before all of that travel, we drove my bfs old 1995 Ford pick up across Canada with our belongings thrown on back. We ran into some pretty funny moments on that 6,000 km road trip as well.

What advice would you give to those who are planning for or are new to an interracial/interfaith dating?

If you love each other with all of your hearts, do whatever it takes to make it work. Do not give up just because going back to your own country and old life would be easier. I recently read a quote that said “A boat is always safe in the harbor, but that is not what boats are for.” You may not feel safe, or confident when going through the challenges of intercultural dating, but the rewards are so worth all of the risk!

Related Posts:

m

I can totally relate, I (a Hispanic-American from washington dc) met and fell in love with a Dane. I relocated to Denmark and have been here for 1.5 years. It has been quite an experience.

I’m glad you’re making the best of this new experience. Wish you the best!

gleenn

Hi M, it must be good to find some materials that relate to your own intercultural marriage. So how are you coping with the challenges, e.g. language barrier, changing jobs and intercultural marriage as a whole?

Previous post:

Next post: