This week on the blog we will be exploring the topic of international love by bringing you the insights of a few individuals who have fallen for partners who come from a different country and culture. They will share openly about what their experiences have been like maneuvering a romantic relationship with someone who does not share their native language or customs.
Today’s post comes from guest writer, Luis Valero, who speaks about his relationship with his British boyfriend, Chris. Luis and Chris currently live in Barcelona, Spain where Luis is working as an English teacher in the afternoon/evening and in the morning he is doing an internship in a Language school as part of his Masters degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language in Professional Scopes at the Universitat de Barcelona. Chris is currently working as an English and French teacher in another language school. They met when Luis was studying the degree of Translation and Interpreting at the Universidad de Granada and Chris was working as an English teacher in a local school. Due to the lack of good jobs and the fact that Granada was becoming smaller and smaller for them, they then decided to move to Chris’s country. So two years after they met, they moved to Surrey, in the south of England, together. Luis got a job as a Spanish teacher and language assistant in an International School. In the meantime, Chris did an MA in Professional Translation at the University of Surrey. The following year (September 2018), due to the fact that they missed the sun and the Spanish lifestyle so much, they decided to move to the beautiful Barcelona and start a new life there. However, we’re very excited to bring you Luis’s story today, so without further ado, we’ll let him take it from here…
My name is Luis and I’m 24 years old. I live in Barcelona but I’m originally from Andalusia. I’ve been with my English boyfriend for four years now (wow!). We met when I was studying in Granada and he was working as an English teacher. We met in a nonconventional way, Tinder. Yes, guys, sometimes it works! Lol. As a student of Translation and Interpreting, I was very interested in learning about new languages and cultures and I’ve always felt very at ease being surrounded by international people. The truth is I wasn’t necessarily looking for an international boyfriend or anything. Actually, funnily enough, it was a friend of mine who swiped right and got the match with Chris, under the pretext of “Look, Luis, he speaks lots of languages!’’
The first time we met we spent hours talking about languages and each other’s cultures and fun facts. Guess what? He’s also a linguist. I had just come back from England, where I had studied for a year as part of the Erasmus programme. The fact that he had already lived in Spain for two years made us very familiarized with each other’s countries, languages, and cultures. In fact, we have lived together both in England and Spain.
Our Own Language
Concerning languages, due to the fact that we pretty much have the same advanced level in the other’s mother tongue, our communication is quite bilingual. We go between English and Spanish without even noticing. It also depends on the place we are. Like if we’re in England we speak more Spanish so as not to be understood, and vice-versa if we’re in Spain—so less people can eavesdrop on our conversations. Our mood or the topic we’re talking about also influences which language we speak. We have even developed our own version of Spanglish, creating new words that make no sense, for example “sortear fuera’’ (sort out/solucionar), “takear el piss’’ (to take the piss/burlarse de alguien), “to have confidence’’ (to trust someone/tener confianza), “grabear’’ (to grab/coger), and so on.
Being able to speak both languages fluently is very helpful when we hang out with each other’s friends and families back home. We both know each other’s loved ones very well. Our families met in England when my parents and brother visited me two years ago while I was living there. That week I was able to put my interpreting skills into practice since I was interpreting between my family and Chris’s family (my family doesn’t really speak English).
The Hard Part
Despite all these wonderful things there are occasionally some drawbacks, I must say. For example, when it comes to important holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter we have to plan carefully whose family we’re going to stay with because of our families living in different countries. There are times when we say “you’re so English’’ or “you’re so Spanish’’ with our little habits. For example, Spanish eating habits are generally quite routine and my family really follows this. We always have lunch at around 2PM and dinner at around 9PM and we eat together at the table. Whereas in Chris’s family, things aren’t so scheduled! When I’m over there I feel quite lost because I never know when to eat, what type of food we’ll eat, and if it’s something more breakfast-type or lunch-type, maybe brunch…?
Definitely, being with someone from another culture is very enriching and opens your eyes to the rest of the world. It makes you feel part of something bigger, makes you a bit more international and you end up meeting people and having experiences that you could never have dating someone from your own country.