Love is in the air all year long, but every year on Valentine’s Day we like to highlight some of our favorite love stories from abroad. This year, we received so many stories that we needed to create two posts. The first post published on February 14, the American Valentine’s Day. While many countries celebrate Valentine’s Day, not everyone does it the same way. For example, in Japan, it is common for women to give men chocolates and gifts on Valentine’s Day. So when do the women get their gifts and chocolates? Well, folks, that’s today, White Day!
White Day was first celebrated in Japan in 1978 and began as a way for men to give back to women after Valentine’s Day. Today, White Day is celebrated in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China on March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day.
We’re up for any excuse to share amazing stories of people who met and fell in love on their study abroad trips. So in honor of White Day, here are 10 more love stories from abroad!
Jessie Taylor | Florianópolis, Brazil
Toward the end of my semester in Florianópolis, Brazil (Spring 2015) I met an amazing woman named Elisa. She had seen me at various events around the city before, wondering “who is that gringo?” Finally, we were at the same party and she caught my eye. In fact, when I saw her she was looking at me with a huge smile on her face. It turned out that we had a lot in common. We both studied economics, we love history, art, and of course, travel. We fell in love and my last month in Brazil was spent with her.
We kept up a long distance relationship for two years and visited each other a few times. It was hard and we spent long stretches of time just missing each other. I learned the true meaning of the Portuguese word “saudade,” which some say has no direct English translation, but essentially means deep nostalgic longing.
Well, life is full of surprises. After my last visit to Brazil, we found out we had a baby on the way. I quickly completed my graduation requirements, finished school, and got back to Florianópolis as quickly as I could. We were married in March of 2017 and our daughter, Maria Theresa was born in May. Our life isn’t perfect, but we are a family and we are happy.
Just two years ago I could never have foreseen things ending up as they did, and I think that’s just how life is. We have all these plans and schedules for our lives. But love is a force to be reckoned with, and sometimes you simply cannot fight it. The strong currents of love and time swept me back to the sandy shores of Florianópolis.
Samantha Snyder | Accra, Ghana
In the spring of 2014, I met my now boyfriend Max on a USAC study abroad trip to Ghana. We both were coming from schools on opposite sides of the U.S. and wouldn’t have met otherwise. We started dating long-distance after becoming close friends from our transformational study abroad trip. It was easy to fall for each other, both sharing a love for adventure and learning about other cultures. After both graduating college, we have been living in Indonesia for over a year now, working and exploring Southeast Asia together. We are both super thankful that we shared such an incredible experience together in Ghana which sparked our relationship.
Lindsay Eng | Viterbo, Italy
I met my boyfriend, Collin, while studying abroad in the summer of 2015 in Viterbo, Italy. I was born and raised in Idaho, while Collin is from Ohio. We have been together for almost three years in May.
We met in Rome while getting off of our group flight. We got to talking about his previous study abroad trips and he tried to impress me by telling me about his time in Ireland (which, I admit, worked pretty well). For the first week of us arriving in our town, Viterbo, everyone was excited and would explore the city and taken tons of pictures. Collin and I would sit down and look at each other’s photos from that day and tell each other how artistically inclined the other was. We both were still shy with each other and tried our best not to show how much we liked one another. He was very shy but funny, and being with him was very natural.
It wasn’t until the end of the first week that he and I struck up our relationship. We were both invited to a group outing to a local cafe, Cafe della Arte, where there was music, fun with our new friends, and wine. Maybe it was the Italian cafe illuminated by the golden streetlights at night, the beautiful music, or the wine, but we both told each other our attraction to one another. And after then, we were never apart.
After almost three years, we are still almost never apart. We both live in Ohio now and have traveled all over the world together since we met in Italy. We traveled while in Italy to so many different places including Florence, Pompeii, and Naples; have studied abroad in Germany for a summer, and have traveled to Ireland, Paris, Scotland, England, and Iceland. All are very beautiful and I could never pick between them as my favorite. But Italy holds a special place in my heart because that’s where I met the love of my life.
Brooke Wooten | London, England
This past summer, I had the chance to study abroad in the United Kingdom. I would begin in Edinburgh and travel to London for the remainder of my stay. I was so excited, and had everything ready in anticipation of the week I would finally embark!
However, when the week finally arrived, I made a serious error. I mixed up the date for my flight and ended up not getting on the group flight, believing it to be the next day. Needless to say, it was awful. I scrambled to get myself on the next flight, (thank God for flight insurance) and was a day late to the party. I would not realize until the following day, that my little error would bring me to current boyfriend.
Because of my mistake, some girls immediately took me into their group to make me feel more comfortable, as everyone had already met. We planned on exploring Edinburgh’s nightlife, and the people and parties were even better than expected! We decided to head to a local pub. I spotted a handsome ‘lad’ across the room but was too nervous to speak to him. Eventually, to my excitement, he came and spoke to me. We talked for a very long time that night and got along great. We planned on meeting the next day, but I was not confident it would happen.
To my surprise, he met me out the next night, and we had an even better time than the first. When I had to leave for London the following day, I was a little sad, which bothered me. I told myself not to go getting attached so soon! Despite this, during my time in London, we kept in touch, texting constantly, which eventually led to us being on the phone together almost every night. I mustered up the courage to ask if I could go back one weekend and visit him, and lucky for me, he was all for it! I went back to visit him with some of my friends, and this time around, all feelings were confirmed. When I had to travel back to the States, I was devastated at the thought of it all ending.
But we were determined to make it work. Two months after leaving him, I went back to Scotland and stayed with him. He showed me even more of Edinburgh, and it quickly became one of my favorite cities. He even took me to meet his mother in England. We explored the English countryside, and it was like a dream. He came to visit me in Florida in November, and got to experience his first American Thanksgiving! He recently visited again, and I took him swimming with the manatees so he could get a taste of what life is like in sunny Florida.
We will see each other next in March, and I am so grateful for him. He is a wonderful person, and we both find it a blessing that we live in other countries and are able to show each other new parts of the world. We miss each other when we are away, but we are confident it will all work out in the end.
Nataly & Marty | Heredia, Costa Rica
Marty and I were part of the USAC program in Heredia, Costa Rica in the Fall of 2015. I decided to apply for the program two days before the deadline, at the suggestion of a new coworker. Marty originally applied to study in Ecuador, but that the program was canceled and his advisor suggested Costa Rica instead.
When I arrived at the San Fransisco airport the day of departure, I was told that my flight was delayed and thus I would be missing my connecting flight in Dallas. I was frustrated but agreed to rebook and fly to Houston and then to Costa Rica from there instead. That flight was also delayed and we landed 10 minutes before my new connecting flight. Despite my asthma, I ran as fast as I could across the Houston airport. The flight attendant quickly scanned my boarding pass and I ran down the jetway… and then another flight attendant closed the plane door right in front of my face. I had to spend the night in Texas and I called my mom crying and cursing. My mom told me “Mija Dios sabe porque hace las cosas” which translates to “Mija God knows why he does things.”
I was rebooked for a flight the next morning. A flight which Marty also happened to be on. I remember the very first time I saw Marty. He was wearing a USAC shirt waiting for his luggage at baggage claim. I watched him grab his bag as I waited for mine. He was biting his nails with a very confused look on his face as he scanned the signs for the exit. I remember thinking “ahh this poor white boy can’t read Spanish, I should help him.” I initially lost him in the crowd but found him as I was exiting the airport. I said hi and then spotted my host family. His wasn’t there. My host parents asked him in Spanish if he needed to borrow their phone to call his family. I went to translate for him and to my surprise, he replied in near perfect Spanish. On our way home my host mom joked that people in the program got married all the time and what if we got married. I laughed at her.
Marty and I got married last June (2017) with some of our amazing USAC friends by our side. Sometimes, God really does know what he is doing.
Lauren Hall | Prague, Czech Republic
I go to California State University, Chico in Chico, CA and in Summer 2015, I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. USAC has two sessions for the summer in Prague. My now boyfriend attended college at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, CA (three hours away from me) and studied abroad in Prague that summer as well. Although we were both exploring the same cities and were the only two people that had all the same classes together in the program, we did not really interact much until a little over a week before the end of the program. About five days before the end of the program is when we really started to hang out together. One night we walked the entire city from one side to the other, and then back again. We learned all about each other’s lives at home and realized that we had the same interests and sense of humor. He and I became really good friends. We had fun with everyone in our program for those last few days; it was probably the most fun week of my life so far. When the program ended and it was time to say goodbye, we gave each other the biggest hug. I was really sad to say goodbye to him; I hoped to see him again since he only lived three hours away, but I did not know if that would ever happen. Less than a month later, he and another friend from the program drove up to Chico to visit me for less than 24 hours. I saw him about once a month after that, each of us driving to see the other. We finally made it “official” in February 2016.
We moved in together this past summer and are living in Chico while I finish up my last semester in graduate school at CSU Chico. Once I graduate in May, we have to pick where we want to move and live next. I’m excited to see where we end up.
We always joke that we had to travel 5,790 miles across the world to meet someone who was only 165 miles away. I love getting to tell the story of how we met and saying that we met in Europe, in a country that actually looks like a fairytale. We are forever thankful to USAC for allowing us to meet and do what we love most- travel.
Jasmin Del Rosario | Viterbo, Italy
It was the last week of summer session I in Viterbo and I was out in a bar (Al Settantasette). There was a guy at the bar standing behind me, that I kept stepping on and when I turned around, he was the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. We hit it off the first night and walked around Viterbo while talking until morning. In my last week, I saw him every day except for one day. I met his family on my last weekend and I ended up staying an extra two weeks. We kept in touch, I came back a month later, and he followed me back to America to meet my family. Two days after his visit to America, we had all of our paperwork set and he talked to my family and we have been happily married since September.
Jessica Vallet | San Ramon, Costa Rica
Everyone told me I would meet a “Tico” and be swept off my feet. I told them they were crazy, that I was 19 and not at all interested in that situation. Then there was Connor. The “gringo” in my Spanish class. He was easy to be attracted to. He has the biggest smile in the room and is easily the best person I have ever met. He instantly became my best friend and still is. He became the reason I forgot I was homesick and the best part of studying abroad.
So there we were, spending the first three months of our relationship where people could only dream to spend their honeymoon. We laughed until we cried, fumbled through traveling with our Spanish and drinking coffee as we watched the sunrise. I thought it couldn’t get any better than that.
Fast forward to four years later and I am still laughing with my best friend; only now we are also planning our honeymoon. Costa Rica led me to my future husband and my perfect other half. I never imagined that studying abroad would lead me here. I never imagined that my love story was going to start in San Ramon. For that, I will always be grateful.
Tom Sudholz | Stellenbosch, South Africa
I had arrived in Stellenbosch, South Africa with four years of university completed, and without knowing anyone else in the nation – nor the continent! And yet within 8 weeks I had been welcomed and settled into a life which I felt I had always been searching for. Inge and I have traveled far and wide, not just in the pursuit of adventure but in the pursuit of each other!
Closing in on two years later, we are working towards living on the same continent, from there we can focus on the same country! My experiences abroad have been incredible but none compare with finding someone who matches you in every way. Is it cliché? Of course! Is it hard? Terribly so. Is it worth it? More than words can relate, yes. So, from a chance meeting to be in a group project, to find the one you love – on exchange – is not just for the movies.
I arrived back from my latest visit to South Africa two weeks ago to visit that incredible girl who has left an indelible mark on my soul, and I cannot wait to be back again in a few short months! Take the chance, and remember; you’ve gotta risk it to get the biscuit! Inge, jy beteken die wereld vir my.
Julia Ryan | Accra, Ghana
Max and I met while studying abroad in Ghana in the Spring of 2017. We often joke that it was not love at first sight as we had strikingly different backgrounds and personalities. A friendship began to blossom – we played basketball together on the school’s outdoor courts, traveled, and spent countless hours telling stories.
Max’s friendship was very special during this time because it helped to alleviate the burden of the events that transpired while in Ghana. I faced a variety of unexpected health issues during my study abroad. During this time, Max and I became ever closer and our relationship began. He often made the journey with me to the hospitals – taxi rides through busy Accra traffic. Hours were spent in waiting rooms playing cards and attempting to do our Twi homework.
It was recommended that I be medically evacuated in April but I chose to stay. I wanted to finish the program and stay with Max. He filled my days with laughter, comfort, and adventure. Although each day was physically painful, we visited several places in Ghana and traveled to Togo, Benin, and São Tome.
We explored the ancient kingdom of Abomey in Benin, swam at the beautiful Boti Falls in Ghana for Max’s birthday, toured the coastline of Togo via wild moto rides, and canoed to the equator in São Tomé. He is an amazing travel partner and very proficient in French which made our journeys a lot easier!
Today our relationship is long-distance – Max lives in Wisconsin and I in Philadelphia. My health has significantly improved and we continue to support each other. We are currently planning our future adventures!