Larissa and her handsome man are currently in a long distance relationship and living between India & Switzerland!
My name is Larissa and I am from Switzerland. I grew up and I am still living in small town in the eastern part of Switzerland. I have been traveling and living abroad for a quite a bit now. I lived in Canada for 6 months; and travelled to India 3 times. In the last two years, I have spent approximately 7 months in India, in the last two years. I am currently going back in September for another 3 months. My partner's name is Prageet, and he is from New Delhi.
Three words that describe you...
Kind, Friendly, Caring.
Favorite childhood memory...
I do have lots of favorite childhood memories. I especially loved the Summers, where we would pack up our stuff and leave for a week to go camping in Italy. The month of December involves a lot of favorite memories, too. Every day in December, we opened a little door of our advent calendar and got a piece of chocolate until it was my birthday, and until it was Christmas. What a loving time it was!
Where/how do you feel most inspired?
I think I feel the most inspired on the airplane! While the plane is taking off - with music in my ears. How nostalgic you can get when you are taking off the ground!
Where/how did you meet your spouse?
We met online. Simple as that, brings a lot of people questioning if it’s a real thing or not.
How long have you been together?
We have been together for a little over two years now.
What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
I really admire his power of endurance. It is probably a lot stronger than mine... I am working on it though!
Favorite memory together as a couple...
My favorite memory must be the one when we first met. I finally made it out of the Delhi airport and saw him waiting for me at the end of the exit, surrounded by a hundred of other Indians. To this day, I still smell the scent when I hugged him for the first time.
What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship?
To be honest, I didn't know that much. All I knew was that I never wanted to go to India - EVER! Like never ever!!! I used to say that I wanted to see all of the countries - but not India. Look at me now.... traveling to India all the time and spending up to 5 months there at a time. How life can turn out, is ironically funny!!!
How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship?
I didn't really tell them - I just said that I had a boyfriend and he was Indian. For the first 4 months of our relationship I mainly kept it a secret, apart from two close friends. Then I announced that I was going to go to India to see him. Most of my family was worried, which I understand now. But this was the only way I could find out if this relationship was worth the distance. My sister tried to warn me that "all Indians smell like curry", which freaked me out. It turned out he didn't smell like curry, and neither did anyone else I have met before who is Indian!
How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life?
This relationship has given me so much. It’s not just the love that I get from it - it is also the family, the chance to explore a new country, a new culture and to be part of it. It has changed me in a lot of ways. I am more open minded than before, more careful on how I look at other cultures. I am more respectful, but I also learned how to stand up for myself.
What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
We are not married yet, but I hope we will be one day, and for that I have dreams. I want us to have a happy life, with our children, and happy with our jobs too. I want us to be able to afford to see our respective families at least once a year.
What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship?
Being independent. Standing up for what you want in life. Also all the lovely holidays, like Christmas. For me, Christmas is a part of my culture - more than my religion. I think it may be harder when we have children, to figure out the perfect balance of both cultures.
What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse?
Since we are still in a long distance relationship, the things we do on a daily basis to stay connected is communication - talking on whatsapp, facetiming, sending each other pictures. It is important for me to be able to have as much of a “normal” relationship as possible.
In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
I enjoy the Hindu festivals, although I am not living his culture on a daily basis. I respect and am interested in learning and understanding his culture. I love certain aspects of his culture. And I am excited to have an Indian wedding one day, with all the traditions included!
Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
No, they haven’t. They are all very open minded though.
What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace?
The hardest thing for me is that as a girl, you are not allowed to be as independent as a boy. In Switzerland, I could go outside by myself without any problems, so it is hard for me sometimes. And my parents do worry for my safety in India.
Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
I like to think a lot about everything beforehand, so I usually don't have faux-pas. But one thing I cannot bring myself to do is touching the elders' feet. I know it shows respect, but it feels just so weird for me! I feel like it feels weird for them too, because I do it and I am white.
What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship?
We haven't had a very challenging time yet. We have been fortunate that his family is accepting and my family is very open too. I would say in the beginning, it was just hard to understand each other’s culture. Especially during the first visits with the families.
What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
The different culture brings so much joy. I love celebrating with them when I am there. And having a totally different family from what I had before! The worst is the distance. You don't end up seeing them a lot, because it requires a lot of money to travel back and forth.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
That they don’t work. They do work. And the misconception that most of them are just to get into the country or get a visa. And that’s not true. Just because some people do that for money or whatever doesn't mean that ALL of us do this. For most of us it’s LOVE.
What are the biggest misconceptions about Swiss women?
People think that I am the typical white girl, who drinks a lot of alcohol, goes out to party every night, has had lots of boyfriends. And that I am rich....ha ha ha!!! Just because I am from Switzerland doesn't mean I am rich! I am not any of the above.
Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
Be open to their culture, but also uphold your own culture. Try to work things out if it gets hard, because in the end it’s worth every cultural clash. Be understanding, but stand up for yourself if something's not okay to you. Talk with each other.
(All photos courtesy of Withlovefromlarissa)