Making it the (long) distance

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    Sep 06, 2012
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Fallen in love with a man from another country?  Don't speak the same language?  Having difficulty knowing what the future holds?  Here are Tamzin Hardy's top 10 tips for making a relationship with a foreigner really work.

1. The first thing you can do is start to learn the language of your beloved.  Enrol on an evening course, buy a CD, go online and use the internet. Today there are hundreds of websites offering you the opportunity to learn another language.  Okay so perhaps it can get boring but if communication is the key, it needs to be done. Think of Colin Firth’s character in Love Actually when he falls in love with his housekeeper, and you have the idea.
2. Make the effort to visit one another’s home once or twice a year, or more if you can, to see if you relate to each others family and friends, as well as getting to know each other better.  Maybe one day you’ll make things between you more permanent, in which case you’ll already have a good idea of whether you can ingratiate yourself into a new community that probably has a very different culture.
3. When you are in his home town, learn the street names, best shops, restaurants, that kind of thing to absorb the way of living.  I found myself in a relatively small town in southern Italy where they speak local dialect.  I wandered around the Tuesday morning market in the town centre listening into other people’s conversations to at least have an idea of what they were talking about!
4. Prepare yourself for happiness, but also heartache.  The first few times my husband and I had to say goodbye to one another at the end of a visit, it was incredibly painful.  But I always knew if wouldn’t be easy and I made the sacrifice.  If you know he’s worth it, things will probably work out in the end.
5. Give your future some serious thought.  After spending enough time with him, you should know if you love him, he loves you, and can see yourself married to him in 5 years time.  With that, consider life without your current home comforts, surrounded by family and friends.  I still have a great group of friends in the UK who I miss like crazy, and now I live a life with my husband and a much smaller network of friends.  But the important thing is that I’m happy (and so is my husband whose name Felice means happy in English!).
6. If one of you decides the time is right to move to live with the other one, prepare for compromises, difficulties and misunderstandings.  My now husband was living with his parents but I said I’d only come to live with him if he found us a rented apartment.  He realised I was making a big sacrifice to be with him, so he did too, ensuring we had the time and space to get to know each other really well.
7. Making the move isn’t easy.  Be prepared to feel homesick and frustrated when things seem like a struggle.  But give yourself time to settle in.  I decided 6 months was my limit to feel at home in Italy.  Now my English friends tell me that I’m like part of the southern Italian furniture!
8. Once you’re there, see if there’s a course to learn the language at a local school or college.  That’s what I did and several months on, was speaking Italian like an almost pro even though I still get mixed up with verb tenses and can’t roll my ‘r’s’ like a true Italian can.
9. Enjoy it.  You took a big step to get this far so take things a step at a time and feel proud that you gave yourself the opportunity to experience a whole new way of life.
10. Accept that if things go wrong, at least you had the courage to give it a go.  How many people can actually say that?

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