Marrying a westerner and moving to another continent? Think before you plunge!

in Culture, Intercultural Marriage

Marrying a westerner and moving to another continent
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Are you really sure you wanna move to Europe? Unless you had been here before or you can stand sub-zero temperatures then that’s fine. But if you have no idea what you’re up to, here is a little piece of advice, brace yourself up for a big change.

Winter is not pleasant at all. It’s only nice in the beginning. But when you get to walk on an icy road and feel the bone-chilling blow of an east wind you’d regret ever coming here. I thought to myself that if things got unbearable I’d just go away during the winter. But for my first winter, I couldn’t leave the country because my passport was with the Home Office (immigration office as we know it) So I was stuck in England. Everyday I was looking outside the window hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun. And when it did come, it appeared but for a few minutes and then another grey cloud would hide it from view.

Speculations

Coming from Asia, the prospect of moving to Europe seemed like a fairy tale to me. “I’m gonna experience snow. I’m gonna see Autumn leaves. I’m gonna earn ££s. I’m gonna ride a clean, high-tech bus or tram. Everything is a touch-button. I’m gonna be accepted because Europeans like Asians, blah di blah di blah!” These and more nicey-nicey stuff were all my initial and rather misguided thoughts on the prospect.

Teaching in a hot and sunny Bangkok, where the rains are created by cloud seeding, I often times say, “I hate this sticky feeling, it’s so hot! I’m gonna die here. I wish I lived in the west where the weather is cool! Ah, refreshing just to even think of it!”

Moment of Truth

Three years after moving to the UK, I still wish I were back in Bangkok. When I arrived here in Spring of 2008, it was snowing and I wasn’t properly dressed for the weather. As soon as I got out of Heathrow airport building my teeth started to chatter non-stop. I almost wanted to run and get back on the plane.

On the bus to Norwich I kept my eyes outside the window. The leafless tress looked like they were all dead. The field was void of crops and only a house or two can be spotted for miles apart. The bus stopped at other towns and cities and they looked like small communities. The small windows looked rather disproportionate to the size of the house. I learned later that it’s just right for the weather.

Few days after I arrived and started going out I felt strange walking by myself on the street. I thought, “Where is everybody?” It felt so forlorn. Well, they’re snuggled in their sofa. They would come out when the weather picks up.

Dealing with Culture Shock

Weather is not my only struggle, there is also the change of career from teaching to what? A factory worker. Because my educational training and qualification is not deemed applicable to their system. I either have to get back to college or take up some National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) training. But I reckoned I didn’t want to teach European kids, so I decided to take up any decent job I could get my hands into.

See: 3 Stages of Cultural Adjustment

I will adamantly deny the thought that I regret marrying a European but almost every moment of chilliness I long to get back to Bangkok. But back in Bangkok, I felt lonely and was so caught up worrying too much about being single that I took for granted the benefit of walking under the sun and feel its warm kisses on my skin. Past my 30th birthday, all I wanted was a husband. I felt incomplete just like having only one arm and was dwelling on the unfortunate side of it thinking that unless I’d get married I won’t feel complete. Now that I’m married I thought I had found real happiness but boy was I wrong. The inclement weather particularly freezing winters reduces me to tears. Theoretically, I’ve got my right arm but now my left arm is missing and the only way to get it back is to go back in Bangkok. I can’t have them both.

Lesson from Life

I guess, this is just to remind me that in life you can’t have everything you want all in the same place. You’ve got to learn to adapt yourself to whatever situation you get into. Contentment is there wherever you are but if you let discontent overshadow it, you will be unhappy anywhere you go.

This guestpost is by Jemina of Jem’s Recipes.

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