The view from here
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Find out what it's like to date someone from another country - in this case a German girl following her partner to New Zealand. - Nat, Week 2
Welcome to our series of Travelher's Most Frequently Asked Questions! This is the second topic in our weekly feature, originally published as daily posts on our social media channels and then compiled here at the end of each week.
For me, personally, dating someone from another country was being in love on steroids. The novelty and excitement of dating someone new was exorbitantly multiplied by the fact that I was in love with someone from a place so different from where I grew up. (For everyone who doesn't know me or my story yet, I moved from Germany to New Zealand over 9 years ago to be with my then boyfriend). To me, combining different languages, culture and traditions within one relationship made daily life that much more exciting and enriching. On top of this, being the one that had moved countries and swapping my German life for New Zealand paradise was just the icing on the cake.
While everything about my relationship with that special someone from the other side of the world couldn't have been more magical in the beginning, it did present its very own challenges as the years went on. Being so far away from home long term and trading your old life and all your relationships with close friends and family in for a completely new life with your other half, without knowing if you can ever return "home", is something that can put a very unique type of pressure on a long term relationship.
The challenges that come with it
While it was my decision to leave my life in Germany behind and move to New Zealand for my partner, it didn't always feel like a "choice" as the years went by. No matter how infatuated I was with my new life in NZ and this beautiful country as a whole, I couldn't have chosen a place further away from home if I tried. Despite trying to fly back home "regularly", I couldn't shake the feeling of missing out on too much and not doing everyone back home justice by spending more time with them.
Making new friends in NZ and being very close to my partner's family enriched my life away from home incredibly but almost increased the guilt at times when missing yet another important birthday, Christmas, engagement, etc back home. My partner felt the pressure too. He felt guilty for "keeping me away from home" which of course wasn't his "fault" and my "choice" but still presented a feeling tough for him to shake at times.
When he told me one day that he was willing to give up our life in NZ and move to Germany with me for a few years I couldn't have been more overjoyed. While I was hesitant to give up the beautiful life we had built together in NZ at first, he couldn't have shown me a greater sign of his love than by sacrificing life in paradise to move to landlocked Germany with me.
I loved showing him around my home country, teaching him my language and sharing all of my country's traditions with him. It was endearing to see him form such close bonds with my family and friends despite language barriers and cultural differences. To me, making life work together while being torn between two places and having a home and family on opposite sides of the world was both challenging and rewarding in the most intense way. The highs I experienced were the highest of them all and the lows so deep they sometimes swallowed me whole, but it was all so worth it for a life so vibrant, challenging and wild that not even my German efficiency was able to help me tame it in the end.
You love and learn
My vibrant and wild relationship with that special someone from the other side of the world didn't stand the test of time in the end. I'd love to blame the fact that my partner wasn't able to get a visa to stay in Germany for longer, or the language barrier or cultural differences, but in the end, him and I, and the love we had shared, simply wasn't strong enough to keep us together.
Somewhere along the way between New Zealand, Germany and the rest of the world we had lost each other. Lost the plans we had made for the future, lost the laughter and joy we had shared, lost the invisible thread that seems to bind couples together, lost it all.
To be fair, I was still in love with him when he broke up but I did realise afterwards, while grieving all these losses for months, that some of them had already been there without me acknowledging them. Despite this break up being the most awful and traumatic time of my life and despite the fact that I never thought I would say these words out loud - I now believe that it might have happened for reason. That we were maybe never meant to last and that the universe might have only brought us together because we were meant to help each other find out what it really is we want from life.
Despite all the heartbreak, I'm so grateful to be able to say that we are still friends today. There are few people in this world who have shaped me more, and finding your true self and love within yourself, might be the greatest gift of them all and for this I will be forever thankful.
Loving and finding yourself
After losing that special someone by my side, I had to completely reset my life and get back to basics. I had to set myself down and focus on the things that are really important in life and ones that make you happy.
Friends and family have always been the most important pillar of my life, no matter how old I've been or what stage of my life I was in. However, like people often say, true friends reveal themselves when you are at your worst. I can definitely confirm that I was indeed at my lowest point ever during my breakup and I can also wholeheartedly confirm that I have hands down the most incredible bunch of friends anyone could ever wish for.
Friends I know from all around the world made an effort to visit me, call me, host me, take me in, take me out, cheer me up and throw me right back into life. You guys know who you are! Without you, I'm unsure I would have made it through. And it wasn't just old, life-long friends that were with me during this darkest hour of them all, it was people who I had only just met or known for a couple of years that brought me back to life.
Finding (new) love again
I felt incredibly lost after my break up and was unable to decide where I wanted to live. I was weighing the options of moving back home to Germany but couldn't quite allow myself to just "give up" on New Zealand because it seemed "easier". It felt like I was running away from my new life I had built and to some extent even from myself. So I stuck it out and built a new life in NZ, with a new place to live, new friends, new routines and a new future ahead of me. And while it was tough in the beginning, it is now that I look back, not the slightest bit less magical than my "first life" in NZ. Reason for this are my friends yet again - all the beautiful people that stuck with me no matter what.
After my friends nurtured me back to life during these 2 years following my break up - which were predominantly defined by newly gained freedom, confusion, soul searching, serial dating which was not just incredibly fun, eye-opening and exhilarating but also frustrating and at times heart breaking all at once - I finally met my new special someone. It came as it so often does, totally unexpected, but turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
This special man on my side is not only one of the kindest and most sweet natured people I know, but also turns out to be exactly the kind of human I need as a partner.
While we are wildly different personalities, opposites in our case really do attract and complete each other.
What really made me believe in the whole "meant to be thing" is not just that we met but under what circumstances.
It turns out that we, prior to meeting each other, were pretty much living parallel lives.
He too is from Germany, he too moved to New Zealand almost 10 years ago for his kiwi partner. He too was left heartbroken, he too considered returning back home to Germany but decided to stick it out and build a new life for himself in NZ instead, and he too didn't give up on love and helped me find it again.
After two magical years together in NZ that we spent exploring more corners of this beautiful country while joining our two new lives, friends and homes together, we have now decided that it's time for us to move back home to Germany together.
While I'm a little nervous that leaving paradise for our home country might be pretty challenging, I feel like the universe has brought us together to finally make happen what I've always wanted - build a life with someone who shares my unconditional love for New Zealand while having their routes in Germany, therefore making sure we keep both countries close to heart and in our lives.
Here is to new adventures and living life by your own rules with people who not only want to share a life with you but your wildest dreams too.
Until next time, travel on! - Nat
Author - Natalie Gruner
Nat is a co-founder of Travelher. She is a German globetrotter who has been living in New Zealand for the past 9 years. She has explored almost 50 countries so far but won't rest until she's efficiently ticked off the rest of the world ;-) She has decided to move back to Germany with her partner in July 2020 to be closer to home and explore more of Europe for now.