On December 8, 2008 Cornel and I celebrated our six month wedding anniversary. Adjusting to married life is supposed to be hard, adjusting as an international newlywed, I suppose, is much harder.
Administratively, it has been very hard. There are visa applications, medical papers, social security papers, residency papers, etc. etc. I have had my birth certificate officially translated in at least two languages and I have taken at least 30 passport pictures to submit with every application.Then there’s the name change, having had no time to get to the American Consulate, I am now two people, literally.All the documents here have my married name, while all of the administration back home remains with the old name.Little by little, things are getting crossed off the list, and at least now I seem to be reaching the end of the process.
Culturally, the transition was much harder. Learning to survive in a foreign language is difficult. And there are days when you want to go home and cry when you can’t express yourself on a day to day basis. Adjusting to all the comforts of home that you can no longer get, it might seem petty, but things I took for granted. It’s the simple things such as food at the grocery store – no more comfort food, your favorite brand of make-up, etc. Having to learn that shoe, clothes and all other sizes you have grown up with are now different.
Then there was adjusting to the time schedule. It is true that you can invade France between the hours of noon – 2 p.m., because life as you know it shuts down. Everyone takes a lunch, and if you are one of those people that likes to run errands at lunch, forget it, nothing is open. The same goes for the month of August; when everyone takes their annual congees, or annual vacation. So for three weeks in August, you must figure out what stores are open so you can continue you life as normal as possible.
Like other things, you learn to adjust and change your life little by little.
The real strain becomes not having an outlet of friends and family, and only having your spouse to rely on. This person becomes the punching bag for all frustrations. It becomes difficult not to turn your marriage into a scorecard:“I left my country, my job my friends, etc.”, but to see it as a mutual decision and that there are no losers or guilt, but mutual winners for having the chance to be together. Lucky for me, Cornel has been extremely supportive, and even through the lowest points of adjustment he has been a rock and very supportive, and really that is all that he can do.
The more time that passes, the easier it gets to adjust, and the more we get to enjoy being married. Taking the time to appreciate our situation and how lucky we are to have the opportunity to be together, after so much time apart. I suppose it’s true what they say, and time really does heal all…even homesickness and culture shock. I guess for most people, after six months of marriage, it is still flowers, and rainbows and chocolates, but for us after six months, our marriage has endured more things than some people experience in a lifetime, and I believe, it is stronger for that. This doesn’t mean to say that there won’t be more roadblocks ahead, but none that we can’t get through together. I hope one day, years from now, I will be able to look back at this experience abroad, without a dark cloud but with happiness, as every day I appreciate it all more than the day before.