Today, I suggest you discover the story of a truly endearing couple.
A story that takes place between three continents, two nationalities and multiple obstacles, but with one certainty: that of having found the right person.
Julia is French, Bryan is South African, and they met each other… In Chile!
“I ran, almost like in a movie, to tell him how I felt.”
In 2018, Julia leaves for Santiago for her work contract. She finds herself in a large shared apartment, “Spanish Inn” style, where she meets a mysterious young man from South Africa. A strong friendship grows between the two, but neither of them dares to make the first step.
It is after returning to France for a while that Julia realizes she has no more time to lose declaring her love.
« I came back to France to see my family, I took some distance on my life in Chile. And that’s when I realized Bryan really mattered to me. I said to myself, “but why are we just friends?”. When I got there, I ran, almost like in a movie, to tell him how I felt.»
First steps, first obstacles
This is therefore the beginning of a beautiful story that will soon be confronted with the practical realities of a binational relationship.
« For us, the problems already arose before Covid. It was the end of my contract, he also had to go back for bureaucratic reasons. Everybody told me “it’s fine, it’s over, forget him“».
But for Julia, considering the end is not possible. It is with the certainty that her destiny awaits her elsewhere that she takes a one-way ticket to South Africa.
«I spent two months there. That’s when we realized that we were truly made for each other. You know, that feeling of having met the right person! No matter what people say, it’s natural, it’s obvious. Especially when you’ve had experiences with other people before.»
Their decision is then made. Julia will return to France and Bryan will find a solution to join her. Their future is together. In January 2020, they decide, a little on a whim, to get married.
«In fact, we missed each other so much during the two months I was in France that we had the same idea at the same time: we thought we had to get married!
The idea was that he would get a tourist visa, that we would get married in France, and then we could stay together without any issues afterwards.»
A family weekend that lasts 5 months…
And they don’t know yet that they will have invaluable luck. That of being able to get together just a few days before the borders close.
«He arrived on March 8, 2020 in France, he even almost missed his plane! Just a week before the lockdown. It’s incredible, he managed to join me just before the border closure. If we had had to live this time apart, it would have been complicated because we were still a young couple.»
But for Bryan, who has never lived in Europe, doesn’t speak the language, and doesn’t even know Julia’s family, it’s also a great leap into the unknown.
«We were going to stay for a weekend at my parents’ house in eastern France. And with the announcement of the lockdown, the weekend lasted 5 months. He arrived without knowing my family, without speaking French, to find himself confined with everyone. It was an adventure!»
Complications of a “covid marriage”
And with the Covid crisis, their marriage project is in jeopardy. The South African administration does not issue the necessary papers and Bryan quickly finds himself clandestine on French territory.
«We waited a total of 8 months to obtain his birth certificate. We didn’t know if he should leave or stay, his tourist visa had expired. But we knew that if he left, he might not be able to come back.»
Finally, the big day eventually arrived, a year later…
«We were able to get married on January 9, 2021. It was a “covid marriage”, my family was on Zoom. We will laugh about it in a few years, I hope! In fact it was a great wedding, there was no pressure. And actually I’m glad it turned out this way. For sure, if we go back to South Africa, we’ll definitely have another celebration there.»
Despite this happy event, Bryan has still not been regularized in France. But the couple is no longer surprised by anything, they know that the toughest is behind them.
For me, formidable ?
However, for Bryan, acclimatization to France is still in progress. Many cultural differences have surprised the two lovers. Julia explains to me that the social and political context in South Africa has sometimes created some misunderstandings between them.
«There are subjects where we feel that there is a real gap between us. It doesn’t create big conflicts, but we still have to step back and say that we can’t fully understand each other’s vision.
Their past is very heavy to bear. I feel it very much when we discuss politics. We don’t talk about the same thing. For example, on the issue of personal gun ownership for defense. When you’re French, it’s shocking, but when you understand the context in South Africa, it’s totally different.
The simple fact of walking freely in the street shocks him. In South Africa, violence is at such a high level. Bryan has been gagged several times, with a gun to his head. He thinks that people who talk about insecurity in France are crazy!”
And on a daily basis, it is above all their eating habits that surprised them.
« I taught him quite a lot in that regard. For him, making a frozen pizza in the evening and a burger for lunch is normal. While in France, we eat a little better than that… I encourage him to eat cheese as well. As soon as it has a strong taste, he doesn’t like it!»
And even though Bryan complains about the amount of cheese he has to eat every day, he says he is pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food in France. What still shocks him is the way the French communicate. Where the Anglo-Saxons are reserved, the French tend to say what they think in a direct and almost brutal way.
A shared vision
Beyond these few differences, Julia and Bryan are above all united by their similarities and their desire to create a beautiful future together.
«On many subjects, we have similar views, we share many references. Even though we have had very different lives, we grew up in opposite countries, we really have a lot in common.
And if at first my family had a hard time accepting this relationship, they ended up understanding the love that unites us. They tell me that if we managed to overcome this year together, it will be fine! We’ve been through so many hard times, it creates a stronger base for the future. »
Once again, Julia and Bryan demonstrate that attachment to one person is stronger than anything else. And that tolerance and compromise are the basis of any intercultural relationship.
«We thought that this time it was he who should follow me, and that maybe in the future it will be the other way around. You have to make compromises knowing that one day the compromise will be made on the other side. If your love is worth it, you have to fight for the relationship.»
You loved this story and want to read more? Check the beautiful experience of Paola and Friedrich.