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Gerard and Komang met on Bali and moved to Ameland, where they work in a fish shop.

Cross-Cultural Couples: Gerard and Komang

By: Emma Kwee

This next portrait in our cross-cultural couples series came to us from an unexpected corner of the world. Yours truly was enjoying a nice mother-daughter weekend on a small, windy island in the Netherlands, Ameland! While on a cycling trip we decided to stop for lunch in the village of Nes. The girl working there looked decidedly Indonesian. That’s how I met Komang, from Bali, who turned out to be married to Gerard, who also works in the fish shop. They met on Bali 9 years ago and one thing led to another. Now they divide their time between their two most loved islands: Bali and Ameland.

Gerard and Komang met on Bali and moved to Ameland, where they work in a fish shop.

Gerard and Komang met on Bali and moved to Ameland, where they work in a fish shop.

Do you have an equally inspiring story to share? If you want to be part of this series, all you have to do is e-mail!

Please introduce yourselves to our readers.

We are Gerard Tiemersma (33) and Ni Nyoman Sriartini, but everybody calls her Komang (28). We live on the beautiful island Ameland. I grew up in Buitenpost (a small town in the northeast of Friesland province). Komang was born and raised in Tabanan on the island of Bali.

How did you meet and where?

We met 9 years ago on Bali. Komang was doing an internship in a restaurant in Kuta. As soon as she walked up to my table there was a click and we started talking.

How did your relationship evolve?

Actually it was love at first sight. I fell head over heels for her. I somehow already knew this was right. Komang felt the same way but she was still hesitant. She didn’t speak a lot of English either. I offered to teach her some English and that’s how we became good friends. That seemed better at the time because it would be so hard to have a long distance relationship, coupled with the cultural differences. Still, we felt we were in love with each other. Luckily just before I left something happened and we both said we were going to give it a try. After some years of uncertainty, waiting and humongous phone bills I finally found myself on the way to Schiphol to pick her up from the airport. In September we will have been married 7 years and we live in a nice little home on Ameland, the island where we both live and work.

Gerard and Komang on Bali

Gerard and Komang on Bali

What does it mean to your relationship to be of two different cultures?

When we started out we had some difficulties, but you get used to each other in a couple of years. The problems were mostly caused because I had to start working again which would leave Komang on her own a lot. But when she started to speak the language she quickly found a job as well, and everything turned for the better.

Has it ever caused any problems or miscommunication?

Yes, especially the cold and getting homesick. We don’t interact with our families that much here in the Netherlands. On Bali they tend to live together with their family.

How did your surroundings react to your mixed relationship?

In the beginning both our parents weren’t that positive. We had to deal with a lot of criticism from Bali, fueled by the Wild West stories of prostitution and also because of their Hindu beliefs. Luckily, by persevering and staying myself, trust has grown and now I get on great with my inlaws.

Gerard and Komang tied the knot 9 years ago

Gerard and Komang tied the knot 9 years ago

What are the biggest challenges you had to overcome?

For Komang mostly the freedom, the cold weather and Dutch food.

What are the best things that this relationship brings you?

Love and the fact that, after waiting for so long and dealing with so many obstacles, we can finally be together.

What makes you a perfect fit?

Komang is pretty strong headed, whereas I am a bit milder. We both enjoy good food, especially Indonesian food. We have the same taste when it comes to decorating our home; warm and lots of color. And we both love Ameland and Bali!

What language do you speak with one another?

We speak Dutch now, but we started out in English.

Are religious differences an issue between you and your partner? How did you solve these?

Komang was raised Hindu and I have not been raised with any faith. Most people in the Netherlands don’t hold on to one single faith. I respect other faiths but mostly believe in myself.

Fairytale in a forest

Fairytale in a forest

What are your future plans?

Our house has just been built and we enjoy living there tremendously. We don’t really have any plans for the future, even though we might want children in the future, we are taking it easy for now. We want to enjoy life with the two of us first.

Do you have any tips for other mixed couples?

Stay who you are and never give up. Love conquers all!

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