When former Asia Exchange student, Mette from Denmark went backpacking a bit over three years ago to South East Asia she had no idea her life would change completely.
Long trip to Asia was coming to an end and Mette and her friends decided to spend last weeks in Bali on a surf camp in Canggu. Just two days before going back to Denmark, girls decided to go out with some surfer friends in Kuta. It was there that Mette met her future husband Darma. Meeting at Kuta´s famous surfer’s bar was not the most romantic start for a relationship one could imagine but Mette and Darma clicked instantly. The night went on with hours of dancing and laughing. Next day Darma asked sweet and innocent Danish girl on a date and that’s how the romance started.
At first, Mette was thinking that Darma would stay as a good memory from Bali but Darma had already made a deeper impression on her. They started to actively keep in touch, and it didn’t take long that Mette was already boarding to a plane to meet Darma again.
“We had a great time and everything just felt so natural between us. We went to Java to meet his family. This time I only stayed two weeks, and it was really hard to say goodbye in the airport.”
When it came to staying Bali for longer than a few weeks, Mette discovered Asia Exchange study abroad program in Bali. Mette was not studying at the time in Denmark but it felt like a great chance to learn the culture, language and see Darma at the same time. Since the study experience, both Mette and Darma have both been traveling between Denmark and Indonesia.
“We have always been very good at talking and writing messages to each other several times a day. But of course it is very hard to be apart sometimes for up to six months… It ican be super frustrating when all you want to do is to be together. “
A year ago came to the big decision to get married. At first, getting married in Denmark seemed like a clear first choice because of the simpler process, and that would mean not having to deal with any decisions related to religion, thus Darma being Muslim and Mette being protestant. In the end, the decision came to Darma’s family; in their culture, the marriage is very important so they decided to get married in Darma’s village in Java. All of Mette’s family and friends supported the decision and few from all over the world to get to be a part of celebrating the love of this Danish-Indonesian couple. For both Mette and Darma, it was very important to let everyone see where Darma grew up and also to meet his family.
Before saying “I Dos” there were a few paperwork related issues that had to be dealt with. Mette needed to get permission from Danish consulate for the marriage. The couple was making good progress with everything but then the holy month of Ramadan and ‘Eid celebrations came to slow things down. The process almost got stuck because of offices being closed during the Muslim celebrations.
Two weeks before the wedding Mette arrived to the island of Java to help with preparations and last bits of paperwork. The province where Darma was from had never come across with mixed marriage so that caused also extra paperwork. The couple also needed a permission from local police for marriage and health checks had to to be done at a local hospital. For their luck they had lovely agent who helped them with all the needed paperwork. It was not only the agent but also Darma´s family and neighbors who did amazing job planning the actual wedding. So many people came together to help with cooking and setting the wedding up.
The day before the wedding the whole family and friends gathered to the village. It was very exciting for Darmas village to see so many tourists visiting the region for the first time. The first part of the wedding was more western and both bride and groom were wearing fancy western style clothing. On the second part in the evening, Mette and Darma had traditional Javanese clothing on and they performed Javanese wedding rituals.
Mette and Darma’s wedding took place about one month ago and now Mette is back to Denmark and Darma is in Bali. So what happens to this newly-wed couple now? Mette has still two and a half years of studying left to do in Denmark so they are currently applying for a long-term visa for Darma. Plan is to get Darma a visa to Denmark and finally get to live together after all the years of occasional distant relationship. Being married does not guarantee a visa for Darma so they still need to face an expensive visa process with plenty of regulations and paperwork involved.
Getting married is not the easiest task when it comes to mixed-nationality couples. The process can be costly, and time-consuming. Love always wins, and the reward is well worth the extra effort needed.
So what is the advice for students who are in mixed nationality relationships and would like to go further – and maybe even get married one day?
“If you meet the right person, I think you are just lucky and I don’t think race or ethnicity really matters. I wasn’t looking for an Asian boyfriend or even for a boyfriend when we met. It just happened and I feel so at home and safe when I am with Darma.”
The couple has faced some challenges due to two very different cultures and occasional language barriers, but in the end, love conquers all. Mette says that it is very important to get to know each other’s families and hometowns. When you see where one grew up in, it is a lot easier to understand each other’s cultures and where they come from. Because Darma has also been visiting Mette in Denmark, he can also better understand where she is coming from now.
When asked what is the best piece of advice Mette could give to the readers, she said,
“If you end up falling in love abroad, just try it out and see what happens. You never know where it can take you. “
In Mette´s case it led her to have an amazing Indonesian family that she is proud to be a part of. <3