Love comes in all shapes, sizes, forms, and ways. And it comes when you least expect it. This month's theme is focused on "Love" and I've been featuring current, past, and future participants that have put a special accent on the word 'embrace' of Cultural Embrace! ;) And since it's Valentine's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a participant that found her love, while on a Cultural Embrace program, studying Spanish in Spain.
Meet Kimya. I remember working with her to organize a meaningful "break" from her busy professional work and personal schedule in 2006. She wanted to go abroad to learn Spanish, and we set her up to do just that in Barcelona. In Barcelona, she met a Norwegian, Morten, who was struck by her wonderful American charm. She extended her stay in Spain, and then the two maintained a long-distance relationship after she returned back to the States. With a few visits in between, the two got married in Punta Cana in December, 2007. Morten relocated and moved to New York, and last fall, they adopted a beautiful little girl! The whole family continues to travel and embrace many cultures! :)
Enjoy this little Q&A session with Kimya, because you never know where, when, and how Cupid will hit you with his love arrow!
1. How did you meet on your Cultural Embrace program, and how long have you been together?
Since i was in Barcelona during the winter, things were a bit less active than spring and summer. I joined a downtown gym with a friend to fill the afternoon hours. My now husband spotted me in a yoga class. (he says he liked the view)
2. Were you nervous getting in to an international relationship, and how did you deal with the long distance? Not really, I was a little slow on an the uptake and did not realize we were dating for several weeks. By the time I did, I had to make a decision to extend my stay to see where the relationship went or go home as planned. Ultimately I decided to extend my trip a few weeks. By the time I left in early spring we had a plan to visit each other and return to Barcelona in the fall to live. But he came to visit me in the States a few weeks later and decided to move to the States instead. A few weeks later he proposed and by the end of the year we were married. There were a few months between the spring and fall which were long distance dating (he in Norway, where his is from and me in the states), but since we were both committed to the relationship it wasn't very stressful, just more of a waiting game. We used a lot of skype and I left work promptly at 5 everyday (to catch him before he went to sleep).
3. How did (do) you overcome cultural differences?
We met each others families and friends early on that laid a good foundation. I corrected his english grammar everyday (still do). We always explain differences, ideas and beliefs to each other and just accept our differences. We still travel a lot so we are used to always begin exposed to different cultures. That has become our norm.
4. How are you managing to raise your family, and are you able to travel and visit Spain a lot?
We adopted a beautiful baby girl last October. Since we adopted we were able to plan ahead and discuss our parenting styles, which luckily are similiar. We agreed from the start that travel would be as much a part of our daughter's life as it is for ours. In her 15 months thus far she has been to Chicago, the Olympics in Vancouver, Norway, a Caribbean Cruise, St. Croix, St. Thomas and Tortola in the British and US Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. Next up a road trip from San Francisco to San Diego and in a few weeks we are taking her back to where it all began in Barcelona. We love having a new person with whom to experience the joys of travel.
5. Do you have any advice for others to find love while traveling abroad?
My advice for finding love anywhere has always been don't look for it. We both found love because we were following our individual dreams and just being ourselves.
6. Do you have any advice for being in an international relationship?
Communication is a challenge in any relationship. When you have a native language difference it helps to be willing to over explain and ask the other person what they heard. Other than that just enjoy learning about all of the cool experience your mate had growing up in another culture.