Love without Borders

2013-07-18 21.36.37Someone recently asked me what “메간” means.  It’s not really a secret or anything.  This is my name spelled out in hangul, which is the name of the Korean alphabet.  As some of you may know, my boyfriend is Korean and have been together for nearly 6 years now.  I honestly can’t imagine life without him.  I still come home excited to see him everyday.

When we first started dating, I didn’t know anything about the Korean culture or language, so it has been a learning experience for sure.  I have studied Korean on my own, taken a year of Korean at college, and am pretty much just used to hearing the language spoken around me, so much so that I can understand most of what’s being said in a conversation.  It’s funny, though, I’ve never been to Korea.  We met here!  He was in my sister’s program at college and I met him when I was still in high school.  I’ve since graduated college, he has gotten 2 degrees and is working on a third.  Time really flies.

I have learned quite a lot about my boyfriend’s culture and language since that first date nearly 6 years ago.  In turn, I’d say that he has gotten a little more Americanized and his English has improved drastically  😉   These are just the result of living with one another for so long and spending every day with one another.

When I think about how we started as a couple, I realize that I fell in love with the person.  The fact that he is not an American citizen never even crosses my mind.  He often says that he can’t believe I don’t speak Korean.  There have been times when he has spoken Korean to me without thinking 😉

When people look at us on the street, peek at us when we eat at a restaurant, or stare at us through a car window, I’m actually shocked by the ignorance.  We don’t see any differences in one another, so why should anyone else?  I’d like to think they are just looking at us because we are so darn cute 😉

Being in an international relationship is NOT at all easy and has been difficult.  We have had to understand one another’s humor, which lead to a lot of misunderstandings in the beginning, but we understand each other now.  We do have language difficulties at times and sometimes we can’t explain things exactly like we want to.  I have basically given up on pop culture references because he rarely knows what I’m talking about 😉  We’ve had to deal with acceptance issues from both of our families.  The worst is probably the times of separation, when he has to go back to Korea to visit his family.  It’s not easy being separated by 6,000 miles.  There’s always the thought that something will happen to his visa and he won’t be able to come back or stay.  Like I said, it’s not easy!

We have been through so much together and started out with so little.  We now have a beautiful little home, both have good jobs, and we still have each other.  It’s been a fun ride thus far 🙂

These are just a few random thoughts I had today.  Thanks for reading!


PS You can thank Chester for that scratch on my bf’s arm 😉


76 thoughts on “Love without Borders

  1. I am Australian and my husband is South African. I totally understand the pop references thing, it is odd not being able to share old adds you remember from childhood TV and such like. It is kind of neat though that you can share every day things and they are entirely new to the other person. We have a lot of fun with it and he has taken me ‘home’ and shown me so many things that I would never have experienced otherwise, there is nothing like travelling with a ‘local’ when you go overseas. A lot of our differences seem to revolve around food and the tastes that we grew up with and that is a lot of fun to explore.
    I hope things just keep on getting better for you both. It is lovely to hear a positive story about the good things in peoples lives.

    1. I’m glad to hear similar tales from another international couple 🙂 It is funny how some things seem so ordinary to me and yet are so intriguing to him. We will always have surprises for one another I’m sure 🙂

  2. this is a wonderful piece – its a real example of how we merge when we spend time over years with a loved on – i do understand the difficulties of a cross/cultural relationship too though – my partner is south african and I am english – we have been together 12 years and there are still some misunderstandings that can lead to arguments – a lot of which boil down to something as ordinary as “tone of voice” lol.
    But as you say – its an adventure !!!

  3. I have a Korean step mom and a half Korean step brother. The only time I ever notice is when Julie (my step moms) mother comes around. She doesn’t speak a lick of English and all isaynin Korean is howdy :). But it’s my family and we love it! That’s a lucky boyfriend Megan

    1. That’s very neat that you have family who are Korean 🙂 I think you can relate to this post a bit more than others then. I’d like to think he’s lucky, but I think I’m the lucky one 😉

  4. Interesting read! I’ve actually been living here in Korea for about 3 years now, so I thought it was funny when I read your name in Hangul. The culture here is very different in so many ways… it’s cool that you get to see inside it a bit.
    I can definitely relate to what you’re saying about cultural barriers as well as people staring at you. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for a few years now, and we get stares for the obvious reasons. We actually can’t be “out” here in Korea because we would easily be fired from our jobs and lose our visas (almost guaranteed). She’s the first generation to be born in America, but her family is Chinese Jamaican — some big differences that sometimes we just don’t understand when it comes to family.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing! Sincerely, 코디

    1. I can imagine it is difficult to live in a culture so different from your own. One day we will be moving there, but honestly, the further off the better for me. I would miss my family too much. I know that same sex couples have few freedoms in Korea. Since becoming familiar with the culture, I’ve realized just how advanced Korea is in some arenas, but others are so delayed (e.g. special education, LGBT rights). Thank you for sharing.

  5. You are right. There is no difference between you two. People are people, no matter their color, race or background. I think it’s great and I commend you for standing up for what you know is right and for not allowing other people or circumstances to get in the way. Congratulations on six years!

  6. I wish everyone could see the world and the people in it with your eyes, I am also blind to color etc. My husband is Italian and I am of British descent so there are some funny miscommunications sometimes. Anyways, I think you are a wonderful soul Megan, once again thank for sharing your life 🙂

  7. We have only in the past ten years had a lot of new cultures come to live in Ireland. However on a different level I come from Dublin and married a man from a different county, Cork. When I began to go out with him I was met by so many fellow Dubliners who would remark “A Corkman? could you not find a Dub?”. Similarly when I went to Cork he was met with the same, and I was very conscious of being an outsider. Now twenty years later I am still living in Cork. I am still a Dub to them but thankfully I do not feel like an outsider. The funny thing is Dublin and Cork are only 200km apart.

    1. That is funny 🙂 We sort of have that here where I’m from in the US. In our county, there are a few rival communities, nothing serious, just a socioeconomic clash. Not quite the same perhaps, but I do understand where you’re coming from.

  8. Very nice, random thoughts. And you are right, an international relationship doesn’t always come easily but it seems to me you are both making a success of it.

  9. I can’t imagine life without him either. I have never seen him as Korean, except in the very early months when he bowed to me, oh, i miss those days lol. I’ve always seen him as Won with his cute smile and ever-curious questions. It had to be hard on him being in America but America is a much better place with him in it.

  10. Hey Megan 🙂
    Awesome love story. I really like seeing the honest story! I’m Romanian-Canadian, but when I visit Romania, although I can speak the language perfectly, people think my mannerisms and sense of humour are totally loopy. Culture shock with one of my own cultures – weird huh? That is also hilarious about eliminating the pop culture references. I’m so glad you’re in a happy relationship 🙂 I’m pretty sure you ARE darn cute. As for understanding each other’s humour all the time – my boyfriend is Canadian, and mostly hilarious, but we have times when we inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings or confuse each other with our humour as well. You for sure had some obstacles and it’s so good to hear you overcame them like nobody’s business!
    I’m getting off-track 😛 but neat post! Maybe one day you’ll blog about your year in Korea? Just think, you can introduce the romance and how it all began…;)

    1. We inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings too sometimes, so I know what you mean. It was worse in the beginning and it often had to do with tone of voice or like you, not understanding humor. I’ve pretty much just given up on the pop culture references 😉

  11. My little brother is Korean, we adopted him when he was just a couple months old, but he was always just my brother – and I’d forget that he looked different from the rest of us when we were out and about! Unless of course, it was a good opportunity to play jokes then we were all over it! Him being Korean wasn’t the point, he was my brother – that was all that mattered! There was some family opposition in the beginning, but they got over it really quick! Congrats on 6 years!

  12. My wife is American and I’m Puerto Rican, so I know where you’re coming from! It’s nice to see that you’re comfortable with him, and with each other, and can just brush off those ridiculous stares. It’s funny isn’t it? How something that is so natural and so easy for us, can warrant some nasty looks from those who don’t agree or get it. I hope by the time my daughter is old enough to date, she can chose so without worry of those who tend to stare.

    1. I know! It is so natural just to be with a person you love that it’s difficult to see the hate in the eyes of others. I live 15 minutes from the KKK epicenter (where it all started) and needless to say, we never go there. I too hope that one day people will stop being so ignorant and annoying, but I doubt it will ever really go away. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. This is a great post. I don’t wanna get too personal here, but I’ve always been afraid of what my parents would think if I dated somebody that they never thought I would… But to have your story up here is very encouraging, so thank you for sharing 🙂

  14. You are doig the right thing and increasing awareness among those you encounter. Never doubt that. By staying together you establish respect and admiration from many people for your successful, courageous choice. Wonderful.

  15. Lovely post! I have lived in South Korea for 3 years now and I love the place and the Korean friends I have met here. I am not dating a Korean man, but I am dating someone who is from a different country and culture. My boyfriend is from the Congo and moved to England in his teens. He spoke no English at that time, but is now a British citizen and an English teacher.

    We live in a small city in South Korea and I was shocked at how closed minded people could be about my boyfriend’s skin colour. In the minds of many Koreans, people with dark skin are ugly. They associate Africa with poverty, associate white people with wealth and attractiveness. It seems like quite a few can’t imagine why a white girl would date a black man. We do get comments and stares in public, from our students and colleagues, but our Korean friends accept my boyfriend and accept us as a couple.

    (I also have a Korean name. My friends call me 민지야! ㅋㅋㅋ)

    1. S. Korea is advanced in some ways, but not very advanced socially yet. I attribute this to a combination of years of occupation and centuries of being a nearly homogeneous society. With the influx of so many foreigners, perhaps this will change in the next few decades. You sound like a lovely couple and nothing out of the ordinary at all. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  16. Wow! I lived with a host family for a semester and the cultural differences were so interesting. Glad you two have been able to embrace each other’s differences, that’s what it’s all about 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  17. I am glad you two are getting along. I can imagine the difficulties.
    Shall I say it? Especially in Indiana!
    여러분 모두에게 행운을 빕니다. 난 당신이 귀여운 커플입니다 상상한다.
    (That better be something nice in Korean. That’s what I intended!)

    1. So true! Indiana, well any other place than Bloomington, is difficult for us as a couple. You know what I mean I’m sure 🙂 My hometown is predominately white and German and very close-minded. I had him check the Korean because I wasn’t certain of what it means. He says it’s a greeting, so yes, it’s nice 🙂

  18. That’s great. My uncle adopted 2 boys from Vietnam when he returned from there in the early 1970’s. I heard it took some time to get it done. Anyway, we have always accepted them as family. Why should we see them differently? I know my uncle and what kind of kids he would raise. They are now both men in the 30’s who are great people with respectable jobs and are contributors to society.

    1. I always appreciate others who adopt children and give them a second chance at a great life. Your uncle sounds like just a person 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  19. I’m Malay-Singaporean and my partner is white (Lithuanian/German)-Canadian. I get where you’re coming from girl!!

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