Love across borders: getting married in the Netherlands and China
Love has been the subject of many articles, songs and films before. This article is no different from all the rest. It’s not special, but the story is. Finding love at the other side of the world is.
The love story
Lasse (Dutch) and Qian (Chinese) met on a rooftop bar when they were both travelling through China eight years ago. They’ve learned each other’s languages, married and are now expecting a baby. However, it sounds easier than it is. They struggled through paperwork and some cultural differences. “It’s definitely challenging but we go through it together. It makes us stronger as a couple.”
Qian: “When we first got talking, it immediately clicked. The next day I was leaving for another city but ultimately, I didn’t go. I wanted to get to know him better. So we went for a scooter ride together with a friend of his and split up afterwards. We kept in touch luckily. That was the beginning of many travels and a happy relationship. We’ve been together for eight years already and lived in several countries; China, the US and some years in the Netherlands. I’ve never heard a story like ours. It is quite special, uh?”
Lasse: “It is pretty unique.”
Qian: “We always decided to live in a city that had good learning opportunities and was new for both of us. We both needed to make new friends, get used to a new environment and adapt.”
Lasse: “The first time we lived together was in China. I was learning Chinese and Qian English. It was fun but I also experienced a real culture shock. I had seen China as a tourist but never experienced it as a local. I had to get used to a different way of life. That same year, our families also met for the first time. Luckily both of our families are very supportive and open-minded. We can talk with such ease about our origins and cultures. They show interest and are understanding.”
Everything we've been through, it’s all worth it, of course. It’s a real adventure.
Qian and Lasse decided to move to Groningen together because they could both study here.
Qian: “It was complicated to understand which documents we needed to submit. We had to follow so many rules and steps. It was hard for me to get a student visa, now it got even more complicated because I’m not a student anymore. I am really lucky Lasse can translate the documents for me and give me a hand. As a foreigner who doesn’t have any Dutch help, I can imagine that the process is very confusing.”
Lasse: “Once she started studying, things were fine. Everything went really great and we decided to get married after several years. We got our official certificate in China, nothing romantic at the time. It was just a simple stamp on a paper, without even witnesses.”
Qian: “To be officially registered as a married couple in the Netherlands, things get, once again, a bit complicated. They need a complete picture of me, which I understand of course. Now we are partially registered; we still need to complete a few parts. It’s very difficult to get the documents in China because first it’s not sure they have it - like for example a birth certificate - and even when you get it, you still have to have it translated and legalized.”
Lasse: “It’s all worth it, of course. It’s a real adventure.”
As a foreigner who doesn’t have any Dutch help, I can imagine that the process is very confusing.
Officially Mr & Mrs Robroek
Qian: “We held the marriage ceremony where we met. Everyone was there. Our families and friends from both the Netherlands and China flew in. It was such a special day."
Lasse: “We wanted to mix the ceremony a little bit to have both our cultures represented. We had a Chinese tea ceremony and a Western style ceremony afterwards. Both our parents enjoyed it. As we said before, they’re very open-minded.”
Lasse: “At the beginning, we had some differences in what we expected in terms of money sharing in a relationship. In China, the man pays everything, just to show that he loves his partner and that he’s wealthy. In Holland, that’s not really a thing and can even be bad in some cases. Going Dutch in China, on the other hand, can be quite offensive.”
Qian: “Although we didn’t really struggle with it. We had already travelled and seen a lot and that helped. Besides, everything went a bit more smoothly because we’re open-minded. It’s important not to judge the other immediately. Don’t think that person has a weird personality. Think about their cultural background first. Once you understand that it is not something personal, you learn how to deal with it and talk about it.”
All you need is Groningen
Lasse: “We came back to Groningen after travelling the world. We’ve seen so many different places and at the end we chose Groningen because we wanted to live in a city that was nice for families.”
Qian: “We were tired of all the travelling. Now we feel at rest! We bought a house here next to the Noorderplantsoen. We’ve got nice friends, he has a stable job and most importantly, our little boy will be born in April.”
Lasse: “The baby is going to be born and raised in a Dutch environment, but we do want him to experience China as a Chinese person. We’re going to teach him Chinese, Dutch and English so he hopefully will speak three languages. We heard a lot of success stories so that motivates us mainly.”
Qian: “We’d love to go to China once a year so that he develops a connection with my family and my country even more. We’re planning to live in China for a while once he’s a toddler. We want him to experience that part of his blood is also Chinese.”
Lasse: “We’re ready for a new chapter! The only thing that we don’t know yet is the baby’s name. Imagine, it has to be pretty and pronounceable in three languages…