Going Back

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In front of De Kathedraal in Antwerpen, Belgium
As I have said in previous blog posts, I spent the first ten years of my life growing up in Belgium. A couple of weeks ago, my family went back for a few days to play tourist and re-visit our old homes and neighbors. Being able to go back after fifteen years was really amazing. The great thing about Europe is that you can pretty much count on things remaining pretty much the same. Even after fifteen years, I was excited to be able to wander around our old neighborhoods and find everything relatively unchanged. It really made walking down memory lane that much sweeter. The other highlight of the trip was being able to show my younger sisters (eleven years my junior), husband, and sister-in-law where we grew up. Having a professional photographer (my husband) with us to take some really great pictures was definitely also an added bonus. :) (Pictures can be viewed on my Facebook page).

Brugge, Belgium
A lot of people are able to relatively easily show their significant others the areas that they grew up. Showing them childhood homes and schools. Giving their significant others a little glimpse of their past. Unfortunately, doing so is a lot more difficult for those who have grown up in different countries. I had the privilege of seeing my husband's childhood home, neighborhood, and school, in Paraguay in 2008, but I didn't imagine that I would have the opportunity to show him around my past in return. It may seem like a small thing, but to be able to show my husband the country and culture that I grew up in and has helped in shaping who I am truly meant a lot to me. After being able to see all this, my husband told me that it has helped him to understand me a little better. Teasing me, he told me that he has found out where some of my little quirks and habits were learned.

Playing tourist with my family was also a lot of fun. We were able to roam around Antwerpen, Bornem, and Brugge, walking the streets, looking through the shops and looking at all the pretty lace. We ate delicious stoverij, mussels, frites, waffles and chocolates (of course) and drank some great coffee and sipped beer. We were also able to see the sites in Antwerpen and take the canal tour in Brugge.

I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to go back with my family for a time of reminiscence and to create new memories. Being able to know and understand someone's childhood is always helpful in a relationship, but I have realized that when in an interracial marriage (where both of us were third culture kids) being able to actually see and experience each other's countries and cultures really makes understanding and relating to each other that much better. Although it is not always easy, I highly encourage anyone in similar situations to go back to their expat countries with their significant others. It really is enriching and fulfilling. Now I am looking forward to going to Taiwan in the future to see my husband's other country and for me to show him South Africa. We may just figure all of each other's quirks out yet. ;)

Windmill on the canal in Brugge, Belgium

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  1. Bethany, I loved this post. I am in an interracial marriage as well, except I married an American. Sometimes we forget (because of our accents) that we aren't from completely different places. Its refreshing to read how different we truly are as couples when we marry someone from a different culture. I'm excited to see you and Dani (sorry, just can't call him Dan like he wants me to ;) haha) go to South Africa! I wish I could go! :) geniet jy daag!

  2. I completely relate about getting to show your significant other where you grew up! Met and married my husband in Germany, so showing him my childhood home in America was really special. It changed the dynamic of our relationship and I really felt like he did understand me and my culture better afterward!