STORIES LIKE OURS: MY FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT AND FOR INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS

In early 2019, I‌ set out to write a book about intercultural relationships, largely because I‌ couldn’t find one like what I‌ was looking for. It seems like love stories that cross cultures are still an infrequent enough topic that when I‌ find a book that captures the experience well, it’s still noteworthy. These are some of the books about intercultural relationships that I’ve enjoyed the most, and I‌ hope to be able to continue to add to this list.

Please note that links to purchase the books may be affiliate links and I‌ may earn a small fee for purchases made through them. This does not add any additional expense for you, but it does help keep the lights on in the Borderless Stories office (aka our second bedroom).

A Tender Struggle, by Krista Bremer

This was the first book I‌ ever read as an adult in an intercultural relationship where I‌ felt like someone was in a position that I‌ could relate to. While...

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“HOW DO YOU KNOW HE/SHE ISN'T WITH YOU FOR THE GREEN CARD?"

immigration Jan 27, 2020

If you live in the US (or if you don’t, but you’ve watched a few American romantic comedies), you’ve probably heard people joke about “green card marriages,” where a person who isn’t a US citizen can marry someone who is, thereby securing his/her own US passport and lifetime access to the American dream. It’s presented in pop culture as an easy fix to a lapsed work-based green card (or did you not see The Proposal?) and for anyone who enjoys reality TV and the whole family of “90 Day Fiance” shows, it justifies our suspicions of anyone who speaks with an accent. It perpetuates the idea that “foreigners can’t be trusted.” When an idea is a part of the cultural zeitgeist and everyone gets why it’s funny, it ends up getting tossed around way too freely. Someone mentions that they’re going to propose to their partner from a country/region/continent that you feel suspicious about, and can...

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FALLING IN LOVE ABROAD

An interesting thing happens when you travel the world and when you meet people who are from different countries and different cultures and who speak different languages than you. That interesting thing? Well, sometimes romance blooms.

There are so many of us who are in committed relationships with people from a different country than our own or who speak a different first language than we do, and there are probably even more people than that who have had a romantic fling with someone from another country or another culture.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Now, granted, there are some ways in which we need to tread more carefully about this topic because we do still tend to "exotify" people from other countries — you know, "tall, dark, and handsome" or "sexy accent" or whatever stereotype we play into about these countries. It is important to remember that the people that we interact with or feel romantic sparks with from other countries are the same as us. They have the same...

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DEPICTIONS OF INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS IN MOVIES

[Please note that links to purchase the movies may be affiliate links and I‌ may earn a small fee for purchases made through them. This does not add any additional expense for you, but it does help keep the lights on in the Borderless Stories office (aka our second bedroom).]

I‌ can’t remember the first time I saw that classic "falling in love abroad" movie plot unfold: girl travels to beautiful location in search of herself and falls in love with a sexy, “exotic” stranger as he takes off his shirt in slow motion to go for a swim during the world’s most beautiful sunset. I don’t remember the first time I‌ saw it, but I‌ know I’ve seen it many times since.

Over the summer, my husband took his first trip to Turkey without me, and while I‌ was at home getting over a summertime flu and missing him, I‌ watched as many movies as I could find that were set in Turkey or even its next-door neighbor Greece. This is what both...

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MARRIAGE ISN’T NECESSARY TO PROVE YOUR LOVE

It's a sentiment seen a lot on social media these days: "Marriage isn't for me. I don't think that it's important, and I don't think you have to get married to someone to show them that you're committed to them." That isn't the reality for many of us who married outside of our country, and I think it's a topic worth discussing here.

HONORING THE FIGHT

First off, it's obviously important to consider those who have fought for the right to get married and to not take it lightly that they have, indeed, had to fight for it. We have to remember those who have struggled for interracial marriage, which wasn't legalized until the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967, or same sex marriage, which has only been legal in the US since 2015. And there are also those of us who meet and fall in love with someone from a different country with a different citizenship, and often the only way for us to be together in the same space long-term is marriage.

This is especially true if one of us is an American,...

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AN OPEN LETTER TO MY 18-YEAR-OLD SELF

love stories Sep 16, 2019

Hey kiddo,

I don’t think you’ll mind me calling you that. I’m not saying it to be patronizing; I’m just trying to remember which term of endearment is your favorite at this point in your life, and I’m hoping that will make you want to listen to me. I‌ know you aren’t crazy about taking advice from older, wiser people, especially when they’re telling you the things that feel like a BIG EFFING DEAL actually don’t matter.

But that’s the truth. The thoughts that keep you up at night don’t even matter any more to me. Here’s a crazysad fact for you: there will always, always, ALWAYS be thoughts and worries and fears that want to keep you up at night. I remind myself regularly that what’s bothering me today won’t matter in a year, and it helps. Maybe if you can start to learn that now it’ll make both of our lives a little bit easier.

And here’s the other thing. You know how you know yourself so...

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K-1 VISA RESOURCES

k1 visa Sep 09, 2019

The beginning of the legal journey to be in the same country as your partner can be daunting. There is so much information available on the internet, so how can you know which to trust when you’re beginning your K-1 visa journey?

Here’s my list of helpful resources for the K-1 visa process. These same sites have information about other visas, too.

To start with, of course you shouldn’t ignore the US government. If you’re looking for official information about the K-1 visa or any other US-based visa, this is where you’re going to find it.

GOVERNMENT:

FREE FORUMS:

There are a number of free forums where others going through the K-1 visa process share their experiences. This can be incredibly helpful because there are parts of the process that vary from country to country and embassy to embassy. Research the forums out there and find the ones that are most applicable and helpful to you. Of course, always remember that other...

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WHY INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

I’ve always struggled with whether the work that I do is meaningful enough. The first interview I was offered fresh out of college was at a diamond store, and I was so uncomfortable with that idea (having just recently seen Blood Diamond) that I think I willed the position out of existence. I told myself I had to at least return the call, and sure enough I was never able to get through to an actual person, which came as a great relief to my young conscience.

Finding my way into my career as an ESL teacher, I again wrestled with if the work I was doing was meaningful enough or if I was just arrogantly spreading my language to anyone who would sit still long enough to learn. I ultimately came to the conclusion that, while I didn’t think English was inherently more important than any other language, enabling people to be able to communicate with more people than their first language would allow was a cool thing. Foreign language skills would increase their...

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BOUNDARIES: “I’M HERE FOR ME, NOT YOU”

If you've moved to another country to be with your partner, you may have said the words, "It's your fault I'm here," and if your partner has moved to be with you, then you may have heard them said back to you. This is never a nice thing to hear, and I know many of us don't handle ourselves as well as we'd like in stressful situations — unfortunately, immigration is full of situations just like that. If you've said or heard this statement, I recommend you continue reading a bit more.

In the process of immigrating to be with your loved one, there is no shortage of sources of frustration. In the K-1 process, there is the separation, the expense, the uncertainty, and all of that is just before the visa itself is granted. If and when the interview is successful and your partner has visa in hand, unfortunately, the frustrations don't end there. When your partner enters the US and you are married, there is still more waiting that happens while the next set of paperwork is being...

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NURTURING YOUR RELATIONSHIP DURING THE K-1 VISA PROCESS

k1 visa Mar 11, 2019

When we talk about the K-1 process, there is a lot of focus placed on paperwork and bureaucracy, naturally. Without these two things, there is no K-1 visa and the bright future together that you're hoping for feels like an impossible dream. But more than any thoughts about immigration lawyers or assembling your application packet, I hope you will remember to take time for your relationship itself.

I am a researcher (by nature, not by profession), and I don't go more than a few hours without looking up information about something that I'm curious about. In a weird way, the K-1 process was a dream for me because there was so much information to consume. Every day I could read new stories on VisaJourney and search out new, obscure situations that I was afraid could happen to us.

Did any of these things help move our application along? Not even a tiny little bit. Did any of them make my relationship stronger? Well, you try having a conversation with your partner while they're...

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