We, your friendly neighborhood intercultural, interracial, covid couple are getting ready for the first of our home country trips. We plan on going to Nigeria in March and we will be going to the States this summer. We have been doing visa processes, interviews, applications, more vaccinations(for me...had to update a few for me to go to Africa... I prefer not to get to typhoid or Yellow Fever), and of course, starting to plan with our families about this to do and people to see. We HAD plans to go to the States the summer of 2021, for our wedding. We had our ceremony all planned, but Samuel's visa process was held up by covid, so we had to cancel everything... and we got married on Zoom, with our legal ceremony in Copenhagen last July.... but that's a story for another blog!
You can see our trip to Copenhagen on our YouTube Vlog!
As a cross-culture couple we deal with the nuance and pull of differences of culture on a daily basis. Certain things come easy and others are more tricky to navigate through. As we dated, and have now lived together for several months, we have become accustom to this dance of culture. We talk, ask questions, ask for clarity when we don't understand or get confused... or ask the other to repeat what they just said, because what they said makes no sense... like when I use weird American colloquials or when Samuel speaks in Pidgin. We are both native English speakers, however quite often we speak a completely different language. I find this to be a fascinating phenomenon, some things are complete cultural differences, some things are personality differences, common place "gender" differences or even home of origin. We grew up on opposite sides of the World, in difference cultures, with different experiences and complexities of life. And I know every couple deals with familial culture shock! This is part of the dynamic of all married couples. Two people becoming one takes some give and take... and at times we need an interpreter to talk! We have to speak clearly and listen even more carefully! Slow speech...quick listening , and slow to frustration!!! That verse of the Bible is a bedrock of communication!!!!! FOR REAL!!!
We have found it helpful that from the time that we met, that the other had at least some context to the other's culture. Samuel had been to the States and I have been to Africa! This gave us at least a visual and starting point to ASK QUESTIONS, dispel stereotypes and really dive in and appreciate our differences. Samuel is not some Nigerian Prince with an email scam and multiple wives. I am not rich, I don't spend every waking day at Central Perk, nor do believe in divorce!... Yes... these are some of the real stereotypes we discussed!
We also talked extensively about troubles we would or could face as an interracial couple. We started dating in 2020, amidst the BLM movement, George Floyd and horror stories of discrimination in the States. This was a shot of reality for me, because it made me think of potential dangers my husband would face when visiting my home country. It terrified me even more when I thought of my future children... mixed third culture kids, that we plan to raise as global citizens, visiting my home states of Oregon and South Dakota...both are pretty ultra WHITE! Don't get me wrong, I still have some faith in my own country and I am hoping all good things. But I also know that some people are ignorant and loud. Additionally, my husband is AFRICAN!... not a black-American or even African-American...big difference!
The flip side... Nigeria presents its own problems to for a white female. I am tall, so white that they will see me coming in the dark and have I a presence that tends to stand out in a crowd... There is NO WAY I can hope to "blend in" when I go to Nigeria! This makes me a potential target for scams, kidnapping, and generally being accosted just by walking down the street. We have been talking strategy for transit, what to do in the airports and generally what to expect so we are both stay safe. But we know certain things will just be overwhelming to both of us. Samuel is definitely introverted and it will be new feeling for him to draw so much attention, while just walking down a street in his own country.
But this is just external environment.... Our families are a completely different story!! Both sides are loving, supportive and welcoming! We are so happy to just spend time together... but there are still some nerves at the idea of meeting everyone. I know from my side... my fam it loud.. especially when we are all together! And I am also nervous about not speaking Pidgin, or understanding when people are talking about me!
At this point there are many unknowns... external factors come and cause nerves, fear and some general anxiety. But really, one of the reasons we fell in love is because we love our differences. And these first trips are all a part of the adventures to come!