As an expat, traveling is what I do. I have been to multiple countries, many different regions of my home country, and now that I live in Asia, I have been able to explore Japan and South Korea often.
Dating someone who lives in another country, though, has given both of us a new appreciation for not only where we are from or where we live, but the places we get to visit together as well. I read an interesting sentiment once that went something like, “When you find someone, travel with them, and if after a week you don’t want to kill them, marry that person.” It has some humor to it, but I think it’s valuable advice. Traveling, rooming with someone, eating every meal with someone, etc. for a week will give you a definite sense of whether or not you can handle being around them all the time.
When Junkyu and I met, we were already embarking on a trip to a new place. It was my first time in Nagasaki, and he was visiting Kyushu to take a break from his normal life in South Korea. We didn’t end up doing much together that first time, but we did walk around Nagasaki City, eat lunch with my friends, and discussed things to do and see. It was fun both being a little lost for what to do, and since my friends took us around, we got to enjoy the freedom of not having a plan.
When he came back to visit me for the first time after realizing we both had feelings for each other, I tried to plan the best dates for us so that we could be prepared and enjoy ourselves. We went to a little island off the coast of Kyushu called Nokonoshima and it was blissful. We took walks through the gardens, fed bunnies, sat and watched the view of the ocean, ate ice cream, and painted cups for one another at a ceramics shop. I was proud of myself for planning such a great day, and the gorgeous weather had us beaming at each other the whole time.
However, I also think we bonded more when I went to Korea to visit him, especially because not everything went as planned. Friends we wanted to meet up with had changes in schedule, our trip to Seoul was more stressful than we wanted it to be, and on the day we set up our tent to camp in the woods, the sky unleashed the heaviest rain I’d experienced all summer. Because of this, however, we learned how to communicate frustration, we saw each other in stressful situations, and we learned to consider each others’ needs and to adapt. In my mind, our trip was perfect. We were together, and considering how long we have to wait each time we see each other, I’ve come to see how much we appreciate each other’s presence.
This past weekend, when Junkyu came to Japan again, the rain canceled our trip to Saga, so we had fun cooking lots of food and people watching at Starbucks. I also got to see Japan from his point of view. He tried all the food he can’t get in Korea, and he tried to read all the signs that were in Japanese. I had fun just watching him experience my city, and he was able to understand how it felt for me to visit Korea, where everything was new and every drink at 7/11 looked delicious.
Although long distance is demanding and difficult, until we can be together at last, I actually really appreciate how we live in such different places. It means that our dates are never boring, we always learn things about one another, and we get to see the glimmer in each other’s eyes every time discoveries are made.
I’ve read a lot about long distance relationships, and some people seem to think that it’s mostly bad because the time spent apart is lonely, while the time spent together gives you a high in which all imperfections are glossed over or forgotten. I disagree. When we are together, we appreciate our time, yes, but we also have the ability to see each other in every light, good and bad.
So get out there and travel with your significant other, your friend, your family members, and see what types of things you discover. You might learn about each other’s annoying habits, but people are flawed. The more you open up to each other and explain your feelings and emotions, the better your trip will become.
Do you travel with your significant other? Or your best friends? What do you learn from traveling with them that you don’t from everyday life? Let me know in the comments!
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