Student - June 13, 2013

'We are open to each other's culture'

When you are at such an international university, it is hardly surprising if you happen to meet a nice guy or girl from another country. Sometimes the initial flirtation blossoms into a relationship, as in the case of Annelise Tripp (23) from the US and Pedro Ruiz (22) from Spain. How do they find being in love with someone from another culture?

‘Pedro sometimes says really funny things in English.’
There was soon a click when Pedro, from Córdoba in Spain, moved to the Haarweg where Food Technology student Annelise, from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, was already living. It eventually took about six months before they started going out. Annelise: 'There are a lot of international students living here. Virtually no one sits alone in their room; they all hang around in the kitchen. Every time I met Pedro in the kitchen we would chat, as everyone does here. But we chatted for longer and longer and our conversations got deeper and deeper. We would watch TV together and he helped me repair my bike. Eventually Pedro said he rather fancied me.'
'I like her sense of humour,' explains Pedro, an Agricultural Engineering student. 'She doesn't fit with the stereotypical image we Europeans have of Americans. She is really open-minded and has taught me a lot of new things.' Annelise fell for Pedro's down-to-earth character. 'He's rational but he is always there for me if I need him. And he sometimes says really funny things in English. Once he said "goosy goomps" instead of "goose bumps".'
The others in the house took the new twosome in their stride. 'They are all couples here,' according to Pedro. 'It's difficult to keep a relationship secret at the start,' adds Annelise. 'It was strange because flatmates saw Pedro coming out of my room or vice versa, but nobody said anything to me. Perhaps they gossiped about us among themselves.'
Exotic
Their friends were not surprised either. Pedro: 'It's normal to come back with a foreign partner after an Erasmus exchange. And I go for foreign girls anyway.' Annelise: 'My friends in the US have never seen him so it's more difficult for them to imagine what our relationship is like. They think it must be exotic to be dating a Spanish guy but we don't see any cultural differences. We are each open to the other's culture and neither of us are nationalistic.'
And the language? Annelise: 'I can't speak Spanish. Recently, Pedro's parents visited. They can hardly speak any English, which made it difficult. You want to make a good impression but I couldn't. I felt so stupid. Fortunately, Pedro was a good interpreter so we could communicate a bit. Perhaps I'll learn Spanish for the next time.'
Annelise and Pedro are in seventh heaven at the moment but what about the future? Pedro looks at Annelise and says cautiously: 'We'll talk about that when the time comes. Annelise will probably go back to the United States one day. I'd like to go with her because I've never been there.' Annelise: 'That would be a big decision. It's not the same as moving to a different city.' Pedro: 'My mother doesn't like flying. The United States is too far for her.' Annelise adds: 'That's typical mum stuff.' Pedro: 'It won't stop me following my heart.'  

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