Every tenth student in Germany is a foreigner. Therefore it's not surprising that most mixed couples meet at university. It’s a great way of finding out how to say the most important words in the world in a different language.
A German- Nigerian couple
Christoph learnt to say “I love you" in Chinese two years ago when he first started going out with Xing. It all began in a Bonn café where Xing was working to finance her studies. Christoph would often stop in for coffee after class.
"One day, this smallish Chinese woman spoke to me and asked if I wanted to go to a concert with her. It’s nice to be invited to concerts by pretty women,” says Christoph.
Xing insists,"I just asked him because I hadn’t found anyone else. It was during the Beethoven Festival."
25-year-old Christoph studies law in Bonn, whereas 27-year-old Xing has already finished her translation studies. They came together thanks to their common love for classical music, especially Beethoven, and Bonn. But mixed relationships are nothing out of the ordinary in their circle of friends:
"We have a Sino-German couple, a Tamil-German couple, an Ecuadorian-German couple and a Bulgarian-German couple. You’re much more likely to find a foreign partner as a student than as a bakery apprentice. But that has to do with the nature of university,” explains Christoph.
However, it’s not always easy being part of a mixed couple. For instance, Xing’s parents know nothing about the relationship although they have been living together for a year now. She says her parents would worry too much.
"If I had a Chinese boyfriend it would be easier for my parents. They would be able to communicate with a Chinese person and form a first impression,” says Xing.
But the couple aims to surprise Xing’s parents at Christmas and is flying to China. Christoph wants to improve his Chinese by then. One way of doing this is to watch Chinese movies with subtitles.
Cultural differences can also make a difference when it comes to arguments. Christoph likes to talk about every last detail and he admits that this is a very German way of dealing with things. But Xing is more emotional. The more emotional she gets, the more Chinese she speaks.
Christoph and Xing say they are always ready to compromise despite their cultural differences. At the beginning, Christoph had some difficulty getting used to eating extremely spicy food and it took him some time to get the hang of chopsticks. But Xing says that he now cooks better Chinese food than she does and can whip up a mean noodle soup with just the right amount of chilli, garlic and ginger in no time. Chinese food won out over German fare.