Hi everyone! I’m Brooke, from agirlandakiwi.com. Like your girl Maria, I also have an international love story. Maria reached out to me and asked me to share!
My story started in January 2010. I was 17 and a senior in high school and a ski instructor in Michigan. The Vancouver 2010 Olympics was just a month away. I remember the whole ski club was buzzing with excitement because several of the Olympic snowboarding teams were coming from all over the world coming to train at OUR ski club! I’ve been an avid winter athlete my whole life and always loved the winter Olympics.
It was kind of a big deal, so our parents took my sisters and me out of school for a long weekend. I met up with my other instructor friends at the ski club that night, and one of them introduced me to a long, blonde haired snowboarder from New Zealand named James.
Oh gosh, he is so cute! I thought. Then I found out his age, and I thought to myself, this guy isn’t even going to look twice at me!! He was three years older than me, and at 17, that seemed like a big jump.
But we were like magnets. James approached me again that night, and we talked for a while, we played pool on a team together, and we just clicked.
But I’m not kidding when I say that it was like “The Bachelor” – James was surrounded by girls. I mean there aren’t many Olympic snowboard athletes with a blond hair, blue eyes, and accents in Michigan. But James kept seeking me out and we always tried to stand next to each other in the group, sit next to each other in the car, stuff like that.
I got home that night after we first met, and I burst into my parents’ room and yelled, “He’s so cute, he’s so cute, I’m going to marry him I SWEAR!” True story.
Each night we hung out over that weekend, there were fewer and fewer girls, as our connection became more obvious. It also helped that my sister played my wing woman the whole weekend. Girls would ask her if she had seen James, or knew where he was, and she would send them in the opposite direction! (“Oh, James? I think I saw him walk over there…”)
At the end of the weekend, it was clear. James and I had big crushes on each other. But I had to go back to school. James walked me out to my car and kissed me, which in his words “sealed the deal”. After that, he started introducing me to his teammates and coach as his “girlfriend” and then invited me to watch him compete in the Olympics. We had only been dating for a month.
“For some crazy reason, my parents let me go. I flew to Vancouver, Canada the day before his event”
For some crazy reason, my parents let me go. I flew to Vancouver, Canada the day before his event – just over a month since we had met. James didn’t even pick me up from the airport (I mean, he was competing in the Olympics the next day… he had things to do). I met his family for the first time and had dinner with them… without my boyfriend! Thankfully his family is wonderful, and welcomed me with open arms!
He returned to New Zealand at the end of the winter, we had been dating for about three months at the time. But as you can guess, that is not the end of our story. We dated long distance for a year, Skyping and Facebook messaging every day. Then, I moved out to New Zealand! I went to University and got my degree, and James competed professionally for several more years. Moving to New Zealand at 18 was not all sunshine and roses.
Though James’ family quickly became my family, it wasn’t home. I was definitely homesick at times and flew home about twice a year in between semesters.
After about two years together, we really had to talk about our relationship. I feel like the two-year point is a turning point in many relationships, like, are we doing this or are we moving on? Can we see a future together? It’s this point where you’ve spent so much time with this person and if he or she isn’t your person, it’s time to re-evaluate.
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And for us, it wasn’t just all the normal relationship growing pains, but we had to figure out if our lives, from literally opposite ends of the world, could mesh. Could one of us sacrifice leaving our home country? Would our families support us? Maybe we could compromise?
Let me tell you, it was hard. And it wasn’t just one or two hard conversations. It was 6-months of tears, anxiousness and soul-searching on both of our parts, while both of us were going to school.
As you can guess, we decided to stay together. Being together was as easy as breathing, and we decided that together we could overcome the hurdles of an international relationship. And believe me, there were, and still are, hurdles.
From expensive flights, immigration fees and long times without seeing one or the other’s family, international relationships aren’t to be taken lightly. We also rarely take a vacation just the two of us. If we have time off, we are typically travelling with family or to see family.
We were married in 2015, and we’re living in Michigan now. We’re still so in love and currently navigating our third round of immigration madness.
If you’re in an international relationship, I encourage you to ask those hard questions early on. It’ll save you a lot of heartache and money if you do!
Have a great week guys!
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