I am diligently working on finding more couples to interview for this series, and I am in the works of something new, for all of you out there who want to read about the couples that didn’t quite work out. I can’t say much now, but I am hoping to share this with the Pineapplers in the upcoming months! But for now, the International Couples Series is here to show that no matter the distance, the language barriers, or cultural confusion, love can triumph!
This month’s feature on the International Couples Series brings together one Mexican and one Croatian who didn’t even meet in their home countries! Maja and Jaime have lived in each other’s home countries and have gone through quite a few cultural mishaps, which now make for funny stories. What happens when you get a Mexican and a Croatian together? Read their interview to hear their love story!
The Quirky Pineapple: Tell me your love story! Where did you both meet, who made the first move, how did it come about?
JAIME: We met in a latin club in Madrid in 2013. I saw her watching how everybody else was dancing, so I asked her for a dance. She told me she wasn’t a good dancer, but I told her it doesn’t matter, just to follow me. Luckily, she agreed and we were dancing for hours until the moment she left the club with her friend. I managed to get her phone number before and the rest is history.
MAJA: I was traveling with my best friend around Portugal and Spain. She was flying home the following morning so we decided to go out to dance. In Spain, everybody invites you to dance and so did Jaime. We danced and when he asked for my number, I decided to give it to him. I had no plans for the following two days in Madrid and I thought it would be nice to hang out. And it was. So nice he came to visit me in Berlin where I moved short after and I went to Mexico two times before we decided to move in together, after almost two years of hard long distance relationship.
TQP: Where are you living now? If it’s not both of your home countries, why there? What do you like about it?
JAIME: Currently we are living in Maja’s hometown, Croatian capital Zagreb. Before we lived in Mexico City, but after a few months we decided to move to Croatia, because Zagreb is a calm city, less stressful than Mexico City and much safer. As far I really like to live here, I have a great job, I meet really nice people and I have more time to do things I like, for example run, which I had no time for in Mexico.
MAJA: As Jaime said, we are in Croatia at the moment. We’ve been here more than a year already and it seems we will stay here for a while. When we were deciding where to live, we thought about lots of factors – safety, job opportunities for both of us, language, quality of life and so on. Since we spent a few months in Mexico City, we decided to give it a shot in Zagreb. The initial idea was to move to some big European city as soon as possible, but it seems we postponed that plans. Here we have enough time to run the blog, travel, enjoy with the dogs and friends, what is there not to love?
TQP: What languages do you both speak? Which is the common language that you communicate in?
JAIME: Well, I’m from Mexico so my mother tongue is Spanish, but also I’m fluent in English and currently I’m learning Croatian. Maja speaks more languages than me, but we mostly communicate in English or Spanish.
MAJA: I speak Croatian and English at the daily basis, I communicate in English maybe even more because of my hotel job. My Spanish is pretty good too and I could help myself with few words in Arabic and German. Jaime and I usually talk in English, but with the funny mix of Croatian and Spanish. Sometimes we use all three languages in one sentence and there are some words or phrases we use in a specific language only. If you were listening to us talking, you would have lots of fun. Also, when we do not want somebody to understand, we always talk in the language that person does not understand (evil, we know) – I hope Jaime’s Croatian will get much better by March, so we can chit chat in Croatian while traveling around Mexico.
TQP: What are your nationalities? What are your ethnic backgrounds?
JAIME: I’m 100% Mexican, Maja is 75% Croatian and 25% Slovenian
MAJA: Hahaha. My grandma was Slovenian so he is always telling me I’m not pure Croatian lol.
TQP: What is the most frustrating thing or has been the most frustrating thing about being in an international, intercultural, and interlanguage relationship?
JAIME: I wouldn’t call it frustrating, challenging fits much better. For example, I needed to get used to the different foods with less spices. The cold weather during the winter here in Croatia was something new for me, because in Oaxaca (my hometown in Mexico) the lowest temperature during the winter is around 10ºC. Imagine how shocking for me to see it’s -4°C when I go to work. Also, there are many funny situations due to the language barrier. Sometimes when we don’t know how to say something in English, I say it in Spanish and she in Croatian, and then we Google both words to see if we are right.
MAJA: Sometimes we do not understand each other. We come from fairly different cultures from completely opposite sides of world, and some things in our lives were just different while we were growing up. Many times we need to compromise and find the solution in the middle because we do not like how the other does something. Language, family, the way of life, there are many things we needed to adapt to and accept other ways and opinions. This relationship made us more open to new things, but there are still situations when we yell at each other “How you can do thaaaaaat like this?!” 🙂
TQP: What was or is one thing about your partner’s culture that was the hardest to get used to?
JAIME: The language. I think that is my biggest challenger for now, besides that I don’t think there’s another thing.
MAJA: Spicy food! I haven’t get used to it and I never will. In Mexico, I always get frustrated when eating out because I cannot try any salsa and many other dishes. My mouth is burning for hours if I even try to.
TQP: What is the one thing about your partner’s culture that you love the most?
JAIME: This one is hard, there are a lot of things that I like from here. People are so easy going, when you are driving everybody (well mostly) is polite, they respect the traffic signs and so on.
MAJA: I adore Mexican colorfulness and how they respect their families. Wherever you look to in Mexico, you will see colorful figures, paper, clothes… When you combine it with big families, you get a great fiesta. Ps. Can’t forget about guacamole!
TQP: What have you adopted from your partner’s culture that you would try (or want) to incorporate into your own?
JAIME: Oh, well, since we are living in Maja’s hometown we are trying to incorporate a lot of Mexican traditions in our everyday life. This year we celebrated Mexican Independence Day and “Día de los Muertos”. If we ever move back to Mexico, I would like to incorporate some Croatian dishes because the food is delicious here.
MAJA: I’m trying really hard to learn how to prepare as much Mexican dishes as I can – and I’m quite good at it. In September we prepared a beautiful Mexican fiesta for our friends and colleagues and everybody loved it. For us, food is a big part of our cultures and we are doing our best to prepare traditional dishes from both countries.
TQP: Can you describe a funny situation when you were “lost in translation/culture”?
JAIME: The very first time I went for a haircut all by myself, I went to a hair salon and I said: “Oprostite, dobra večer, govorim malo hrvatski, ali trebam šišanje, hvala” which means “Sorry, good evening, I speak a little bit of Croatian but I need a haircut, thank you”. The lady who was there started to talk a lot telling me things I didn’t understand so at the end of her talk I just stopped and said “da ili ne?” (yes or no?). She said ne. So I left and I went to another one and the same story repeated until somebody said yes. The lady asked me which haircut I wanted so I took a photo from my wallet and I showed to her. Then she tried to make conversation but I have no idea what she was talking about hahaha.
MAJA: Our first wedding anniversary was a few months ago and Jaime bought me some flowers. While I was hoping for a lavish bouquet, he bought a basket full of leaves with just a few flowers. In Mexico, they like it. In Croatia, we take it to the cemetery. I cried when I saw it hahaha.
TQP: Where do you both plan on living in the future?
JAIME: Interesting question, we do not know that yet, but for now we are happy living here in Zagreb.
MAJA: It seems we are going to stay here in Zagreb for a while. If Jaime gets a job somewhere in Europe, I would follow him, no questions asked, but let’s see. Maybe we will move back to Berlin. Basically, the location is not what matters the most to us.
TQP: Do you have any suggestions or advice for people who find themselves in an international, intercultural, or interlanguage relationship?
JAIME: Do not give up, it’s hard, complicated, tiring, and whatever else you want to add but at the end, it is all worth it. Do not overthink, just go for it.
MAJA: We always say, if there is a will – there is a way. It is more complicated than a “normal” relationship, but it is so much more rewarding. I got to know a whole new culture, language, traditions and cherish them together with my husband.
Extra Question: Jaime, what is your favoritephrase you’ve learned from Maja’s language?
JAIME: “Malo sutra”. A friend at work taught me that phrase, he said that is kryptonite for relationships. I don’t know how to translate it, but it can be used like an answer for something that you don’t want to do or you are never going to do.
Extra Question: Maja, can you give any advice or tips about the process of getting married?
MAJA: When we decided to get married, we knew it would not be easy. We needed to do so many things in 3 different countries, it took several months to collect all the papers and we could not wait for the day he would finally get a Croatian residency. If you are interested in how our getting married mission looked liked, you can read the whole post here. Besides that, it took another two months for Jaime to get a permission to stay in Croatia for five years. I’m not going to lie, the whole process was long and tiring, but it is behind us. Everything passes, just do not give up.
Thank you so much, Jaime and Maja, for sharing your love story with us! Reading about what you both went through, the funny, the difficult, and learning from each other is so inspirational! Despite all of the difficulties of being in an International Relationship, you both worked at it, were patient, and made it work. I think it’s pretty amazing that you both are able to speak to each other in a mix of three different languages! If you are interested in following Jaime and Maja’s story, spanning from Mexico to Croatia, you can follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also read their blog, Mexatia, that covers life in Croatia, Mexico, and lots of different recipes from both countries!
The International Couples Series was created to inspire and highlight some of the challenges and funny moments of being in an international relationship. My hope is to inspire those who are in these relationships, that if the relationship is healthy, it can really be worth all of the paperwork and visa headache! Thank you, again, Maria and Martin for sharing your story! If you’re in an international, intercultural and/or multi-language relationship and would like to be featured on The Quirky Pineapple, please contact me so we can set up an interview and you can share your love story! (:
Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too:
Spanimerican: Arguing in Spanish
International Couples Series: Matthew & Gina
Spanimerican: Combining Three Different Cultures
International Couples Series: Allison & Jack