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Long-Distance Cross-Culture Relationship Advice
Lindsey and Juo met while Lindsey was studying abroad at Ewah Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea in 2015. She was there to study for a year when Juo soon after sent her a message on Instagram. Lindsey was hesitant at first but decided it would be a good way to make a friend in Korea. After several times of casual friend dates, Juo asked Lindsey to be his girlfriend on his birthday in November 2015. Since Lindsey returned to the US in June 2016, they have been in a long -distance relationship with Lindsey living in Florida and Juo living in South Korea. They meet every 4 months for 2 months each time. Giving their full effort to the relationship and using the distance to grow their hearts. Lindsey and Juo will both graduate from college this December and Lindsey plans to return to Korea in July of 2018 after applying to become an English teacher there.
Questions to Her
On our first date…
I honestly kept thinking of all the things that could happen… with the worst case scenario being a scene from the movie “Taken”. He traveled to my campus and patiently waited for me with flowers and a heartfelt handwritten note. We took lunch, tried to talk – but nerves got the best of us, and then we went shopping for a winter coat because I had no idea how to prepare for winter after spending my whole life in Florida.
During the first few months of dating my deal-breaker is…
any kind of lying. If you’re not honest early in our relationship, that’s the recipe for instability later on. Another (crazy) thing for me is eating with your mouth open…that’s always been a pet peeve of mine.
I learned that He was the one for me when…
He told me that he will always take care of me and no matter how long it takes he will wait for the day when we can be together. His dedication sealed the deal.
I had a culture shock moment when…
we decided to wear a couple outfit for the first time! In America, it’s not popular for couples to show off that way by wearing matching clothes, so what we did, I thought it was really fun but I LOVED it at the same time. Now, I feel like Juo and I match some parts of our outfits more often than not and we both enjoy that!
3 things I like about him…
the road he cares about me. He always asks me if I have eaten or how I slept. He offered me his coat when I was cold or his shoulder when I was tired. For example, we were going home on the subway one night after a long day and Juo took the opportunity to use his jacket to cover my legs so I could sit comfortably in my skirt while resting my head on his shoulder.
Second thing is that he understands me. He took the time to listen and listen to what I had to say. He would listen to me vent and then tell me everything was OK and let it go. He will not let our language difference get in the way. If he needs more clarification he will ask and never say no or give up and to me that is important.
Third, he gave everything to our relationship. He always thinks about our future and he talks about it openly. He is comfortable around me and he continues to show me his love. There was never a moment when I could not sense his true thoughts or intentions. For example, a recent topic we’ve been discussing is the idea of adopting a dog or cat when I move to Korea. It may seem like a simple topic but it is really planning a part of our future and wanting to grow together.
The biggest misconception about his country and culture is…
The idea is that Korean men in Korea will never see a relationship with a foreigner as a real relationship. I was always told to be careful and that they might just see you as an easy target or a fun experience to brag to their friends about.
The nicest things he has done for me are…
Create a personal photo book of all our memories from our first year together. As a one-year gift to me, Juo made a big book full of pictures of all the things we did together. He has dates written on all the pages and little captions for each photo. I can’t believe he did something like that and for me, it’s the most special thing I’ve ever received because I can see all the time and love he put into it. This is something I will cherish forever.
Second, he was proudly waiting for me at the airport with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers I’ve ever seen and we both fought back tears as we hugged for the first time in months. Seeing the love of your life standing there waiting for you with the biggest smiles on their faces is one of the best moments anyone can experience in a long distance relationship. Those moments are priceless.
During this relationship, the most important thing I learned about myself was…
that I can be patient and I can say that I have learned what it means to show love in ways that go beyond physical actions. Love can be seen in the words you say to each other and the effort you give each day. I know distance is only an issue in a relationship if you make it one. I have become a patient person and now I understand that waiting is only part of our journey. Juo and I are in it for the long haul and if it means waiting months on end then so be it. To be honest, this is a skill I used to lack but this relationship has changed that.
If there was one piece of advice I could give to my fellow Western girlfriends who are in AMWF relationships it would be…
to be yourself without limits. There is no limit to how much you can learn about another person’s culture. There is no limit to becoming a better version of yourself without changing who you are. Ultimately, there is no limit to who you can find love and connection with. Know that it’s OK to accept those of different races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures because no one says you have to find love within someone or something familiar.
Questions for Him
Asking him for the first time is…
exciting. I saw her for the first time on Instagram and thought she was so cute that I had to send her a message. After a while, I couldn’t bear to meet him in person, so I got up the courage and asked!
I know He is right for me when…
He told me he would love me forever. Some people think that is easy to say but for me, it is something very special because I feel his mind. Also, he always knows how to surprise me. For example, he would send me letters in the mail for no reason and fill them with our photos. He always writes me a sweet message inside too.
I had a culture shock when…
he told me that there really isn’t a public transportation system in Florida. He said there was no subway or big bus system and I was shocked! After I visited him in Florida for the first time I later understood that most people use cars so there is no need for public transportation.
3 things I like about him
He loves me unconditionally. I have never felt this kind of love and it makes me feel special. No matter what, I know he’s by my side and I’ll do anything for him.
He always thinks of me. He recently told me that every time he talks about me or thinks about me, he touches our couple’s ring that we wear. I feel we share our feelings. If I’m happy I can share it with her. If he is sad I can understand his sadness and I will do everything to make him happy. He understood me, she makes me happy, she’s beautiful… how could I not love her? Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m his girlfriend!
The biggest misconception about his country and culture is…
that I think their eating habits are similar to what I have seen in movies and TV shows. I thought that when I went to America I would see everyone eating fast food or frozen dinners every day, but that’s not true. I will say that I think eating out is definitely more popular there than in Korea but it’s not what it looks like in the movies.
The things He likes to do for me to enjoy…
traveling and talking! We are obsessed with traveling and making memories around the world. Whenever we go together, we always plan a trip. Our first trip together was Tokyo, Japan in 2016! These days we are already planning our next trip for me to visit him in the US. With him, there was never a dull moment. Whenever we video chat or call or message we always laugh about something or smile at each other.
During this relationship the most important thing I learned about myself was…
the need to understand. After almost 2 years of being with Lindsey, I understand and listen better. Even though he’s American and I’m Korean I realized that it didn’t play a role in our ability to understand each other. I feel that we know each other better because we are both interested in each other’s culture.
If there was one piece of advice I could give to my fellow Asian friends who are in AMWF relationships it would be…
that if you are in long-distance now or you want to have a relationship in a different country in the future I just tell you not to give up! Even if you are not together now, you should show all your love and affection for that person. Talk about your future. Find out where you both want to be in the future and plan for that. This will get you excited and create a goal that you all can reach.
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