Love That Crosses Borders: Annie of WaywardTraveller.com
Annie and I went to the same university (GO DAWGS!) and graduated the same year, but actually met through the wonders of Twitter and soon realized we had a lot in common. Annie is also enjoying the pleasures that come along with living in a Mediterranean country and has been living in Florence, Italy for the past year with her Italian boyfriend. Here’s her love-story:
Did you set off on your travels hoping to find foreign love…or did it find you?
That’s a funny story really. I was studying in Australia and I had already met a couple of sexy Aussies in Canada so I assumed that I wouldn’t be hard pressed in their homeland! I want to say I wasn’t openly looking for someone but I guess that would just be lying. I truly was not looking for an Italian though! He found me all on his own and I even tried to dissuade him!
So…how did you two meet?
Lorenzo was my friend’s roommate in Sydney and on St. Patrick’s Day we all went out together. While I actually met him at his house, I didn’t remember him when he approached me at the bar later that night!
What was your first impression of him?
Once I realized he wasn’t some random creeper I just chatted with him; I figured he was just another awesome new friend! It wasn’t until later in the night that I started thinking he was also pretty cute! I soon forgot him until the next morning when everyone started making snarky comments about the two of us talking all night.
Initially, did you primarily communicate in English, or in his native language? What about now?
We spoke in English, always. We were in Australia and he was there to learn the language, plus all of our friends spoke in English. Most of our friends had a really hard time understanding him at the time, but I think he and I have more problems now than we did back then! I was his go-to for comfort when it came to speaking English.
Now that we are in Italy we have tried to designate ‘Italian days’ but it doesn’t usually last a whole day…mostly his fault!
How has dating someone from a different culture changed you as a person?
That’s a tough question. I’ve had to really confront myself and realize that even though I’m open to learning things, I wasn’t necessarily as open-minded as I originally thought. I don’t know if it comes from his general culture as much as the culture of family but I’ve learned from him to be more conscious of others and more laid-back.
What is the most difficult thing that comes with dating someone from a different country/culture?
The stupid little thing that we get most frustrated about is not being able to understand each other when we speak. He doesn’t enunciate at all, which makes it difficult for anyone to understand him in English and I tend to get carried away and talk too fast and he loses the conversation.
For the most part I don’t find the Italian culture drastically different in ways that aren’t easy to adjust to (for example religion or what is socially acceptable for women). It is also nice to know that Italians are open-minded enough to embrace the differences between Italian women and American ones, I never feel that I need to match my Italian counterparts if it doesn’t fit with my personality.
Also, I’m a pretty low key girl so I usually don’t even straighten my hair. Lorenzo straightens and gels his and has plenty more grooming practices. Not only do I have to wait for him to get ready to go out, then I have to risk that he might just look better too!
In terms of dating, flirting, etc. what makes the men from your significant other’s country different from your home country?
There is a really big difference from Italian men and American men, there is also a big difference between how flirting Italians act versus how your boyfriend acts.
First of all, if you don’t know a man there is always that “Ciao Bella” phase where they’ll literally follow you around trying to talk to you and try to play up their ‘Latin Lover’ stereotype.
As far as being in a relationship, from the beginning Lorenzo was more receptive to emotion and more persistent if he sensed there was an issue. Most American men I know ignore any uncomfortable situation, very often unfortunately, to the point that a relationship or friendship simply fizzles out.
I think the problem that American girls might run into is not realizing that Italians talk a lot, so sometimes they say something even if they aren’t sure they mean it and they act tougher than they are.
What do you believe makes a relationship between two people from two different parts of the world work?
One of our favorite TV shows gave us a good line, “we have the same dream”. We actually talked about that and I think that is the key to any relationship. Of course there are parts of your dream that can be compromised and flexible but the ultimate dream has to be the same, otherwise you are working toward different things and will tear yourselves apart. If you are facing uprooting your entire life to meet someone halfway around the world you have to be sure you’ll both be happy with the situation.
Culturally, you must be open-minded. You must attempt to understand the culture and why that person has lived the life that they have. And of course you must be flexible!
What has being in a relationship with someone from another country taught you? About yourself, the culture, the language, etc.
Lorenzo lives his life bi-lingually and that is very inspiring to me. Although it’s not always easy he can almost automatically change his language depending on who he is speaking to. I have been particularly lazy learning Italian and I think it’s easy for an English-speaker to avoid learning a new language but that doesn’t mean they should! Take any European as an example and they are most likely at least partially able to speak English on top of their native language.
Italians also have a very strong connection to their families and their home. Even if an Italian chooses to travel or leave home completely they never lose their devotion. I have learned to be proud of where I come from and prioritize my relationships with my family since I have been living in Italy.
And what is the absolute best part of being in love with a man from a foreign land?
I have to choose just one thing! I mean besides all the mushy stuff that I think comes with being in love with anyone, the novelty of it all is pretty fun! Especially when friends and family haven’t met him yet! I get a lot of “oooo you’re boyfriend is Italian? What’s his accent like? Is he tall, dark and handsome?”. It is always fun to play into that!
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