“My Brain Kept Telling Me This Was Too Crazy, Too Different to Make It Work” Woman Shares Unique Intercultural Love Journey
For a scientist like Sierra, love was never a priority, but a distraction from her education and her goals. Life was a set of career achievements, nothing more. She’d done everything to avoid it at all costs and lived a life away from the craziness of love until it hit her hard, and right in the face.
Today at Bright Side, we are going to tell you their love story: one that has beaten a 13,000 km path all the way from the US to Ethiopia. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be an adventure!
Sierra and Tewabe met during their study at an archaeological site.
Sierra, an undergraduate student from Colorado was accepted to work on an excavation site. During this field study, they would have to sleep in tents and take showers in rivers, almost like living a life before modernity. The group consisted of Ethiopian and American students, who called themselves “friends in the dirt” as they were always dirty from their work. They would work on the field during the day, sit around the fire to sing, tell each other stories, and gaze into the stars at night.
During meals, they kept “communicating with their eyes.”
Tewabe was an Ethiopian student in the group, Sierra says she remembered him as the person who could make everyone laugh. During meals, they were “communicating with their eyes” and Sierra just decided to sit next to him, so they could talk more. As they kept talking, they found similarities that made them want to spend more time with each other.
Tewabe asked her to dance on Ethiopian Christmas.
On the day of Ethiopian Christmas, Tewabe asked her to dance. Even if they were fast to fall for each other, they were slow to admit it. After this dance, they talked whenever they could. A woman even tried to sell a necklace to Sierra, and she tried to communicate that she didn’t have any money with her. Tewabe then gifted her that necklace amidst the confusion.
Tewabe confessed his love to her when he was scared a dog would hurt Sierra.
Night after night, the Amharic culture piqued Sierra’s interest — she enjoyed learning more about it and getting to experience a different culture. On one particular day, a dog was barking close to Sierra, Tewabe pulled her closer and said, “I don’t want the dog to get you because I love you” — she immediately said it back without considering the consequences. They now celebrate that day as their anniversary, but it was kept a secret from the rest of the group.
Before meeting Tewabe, love was a distraction for Sierra.
Sierra was always ambitious about her career goals. “Before meeting Tewabe, I think I was trying to avoid love. I thought of it as a distraction from my work, my education, my goals. I stayed focused on these things, never looking for love,” she says.
A transatlantic relationship seemed impossible.
On top of this, it seemed impossible to make a transatlantic relationship work. However, after Sierra returned home to Colorado, even with the 9-10-hour difference, she and Tewabe kept talking via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Tewabe had an awful phone connection and no internet at home, and sometimes he wouldn’t have it at all. Sierra would need to wait until he went and got more data from the market.
Sierra could finally afford to travel back to Ethiopia.
Not very long after, Sierra was awarded a fellowship for graduate school, which meant that she could afford to travel back to Ethiopia.
Tewabe and Sierra planned for a 5-week adventure. Tewabe picked her up from the airport with a bouquet of roses. The next day, Sierra met Tewabe’s family, the part that lived in Addis Ababa. They traveled all over Ethiopia, seeing historical places and monuments for the whole 5 weeks!
Tewabe proposed to her by putting the ring in a glass.
On one of Sierra’s visits to Ethiopia, Tewabe proposed to her: “Oh, that sneaky jeweler, he must not have given me the ring! I’ll call him right now... actually it’s too late. I’ll call him in the morning — here, just relax and drink this.” Sierra tells us she almost choked on it!
Even if she accepted his proposal, she still thought there was no way to actually make it work. But after the weariness of legal processes, they made it!
Sierra has some final advice for LDR/multicultural couples.
“It requires mutual respect and compromise. Both people in the relationship need to completely respect their partner’s culture and be excited and willing to learn. And, because unfortunately it is impossible for an intercultural couple to be together and also live in both cultures/close to both families at the same time, each person in the relationship also has to be willing to make compromises. This requires strong communication and trust, to make sure that the compromises are shared equally as much as possible and are not creating a burden for either person.”
Overall, yes, if she could, she would do it all over again!
“Getting to know and falling in love with Tewabe helped me to see that there is more to life than career achievements. The experience helped me value love more and see it as something essential to a happy and successful life. Tewabe always makes me laugh and makes me feel special, and he is so supportive of my goals. We support each other through the hard times and have so much fun together. This is real love,” says Sierra.
Tell us your love story. We can’t wait to hear it!