The story of Amos and Karina
Amos and Karina first met in a café, and have been together for almost 4 years since March 20, 2015. They currently live in St. Petersburg, Russia with their hamster Kiko (who is gaining popularity on Instagram!). Amos is a Singaporean orchestra conductor while Kari is a Russian lawyer and freelance photographer. They both share a love for traveling, photography, videography, cooking, and good food around the world. Kari is Amos’ biggest fan, and they often travel together when he has to perform in another country, like France, where Amos proposed to Karina at the gorgeous Trocadero in Paris. The couple is currently planning their first wedding in St. Petersburg, and next- Singapore!
Questions to Her
On Our first date…
I immediately realized that he was the One. It was easy and interesting for us to communicate, without any embarrassing or awkward moments. He told jokes, showed me magic tricks, and I liked it! He was confident. We talked about ourselves, about our family, our hobbies, our favorite books, films, and our tastes coincided completely. I remember thinking “Wow, this guy reads books. That’s very cool!” I was surprised by how perfect he was. At the end of the meeting, I thought to myself that something was wrong because he couldn’t be so good. Everything turned out to be even better.
During the first months of dating my deal-breaker would be…
If he turned out to be a smoker, loved to drink, or if he was a womanizer and or a liar. I learned that he has the same negative attitude toward smoking and alcohol as me. He’s also the most honest guy I’ve known, in years.
I learned He is right for me when…
I just felt it from the first time we met. So far I always feel his care and love when he prepares me lunch for work, even late at night if I’m asleep from fatigue;
When he writes me letters on beautiful postcards and gives my favorite flowers, not only on special days, but just on ordinary days too, and I sometimes re-read them and feel nostalgic (there are a lot of them);
When traveling we are always on the same wavelength, we are not bored and there are no disagreements, we love seafood and there are no questions that we will eat, we both love photography and walk till we are tired;
When we just spend weekends at home, order pizza and watch TV shows or play Nintendo Switch and laugh that we are like two lazy seals. At such times I feel he is right for me, my place is right next to him, and I feel cozy at home with him. Even after a year, the feelings are just as strong as in the first months. We are as one. I just can’t imagine what could be different.
A bit of mysticism. After a while, maybe half a year or a year, I noticed a lot of signs saying our meeting is fate, and the most amazing signs are-
his birthday falls on the same day my father left this world, they are both his conductors (musicians), both my dad and Amos also graduated from the conductor’s faculty in St. Petersburg (before I knew no other musicians, and there are not many conductors in my city), and when we met, he lived in the house of my childhood, from which I moved from many years ago.
Imagine in a city with a population of 5 million, what are the odds?
I had a cultural shock when He…
said that to give shoes to someone you love is a taboo, I did not know. And he doesn’t eat bread when we have it every day like it is a normal thing to do.
3 things I love about Him are…
His courage – to move to another country, to learn a foreign language, to meet with influential people, all in order to find a job, get above and all for our future, for our family. He is very brave!
His kindness – he never told me a rude word, he is caring towards me and others;
He smart and funny – he knows a lot from different spheres, I’m always kept interested while talking to him, and learned a lot from him;
His ability to cook – I realized that cooking is not my path (haha!), I can cook something delicious, but it will take a very long time. But Amos can cook VERY delicious food and quickly! In fact, it’s hard to choose only three things, I like much more things about him.
The biggest misconception about His country and culture was…
in fact, before meeting him, I knew almost nothing about Singapore, I knew that this is a city-country and probably that’s all. I didn’t have any misconceptions, I recognize his country from zero without prejudice and I think I can talk about Singapore endlessly and interestingly, after my stories at work, already 6 people went on a trip to Singapore, and it’s not cheap for Russia. But I can tell you about the misconceptions that I heard from other people:
1) a very strict, conservative country – this is because of the many laws and fines that surprise people, such as fine for chewing gum or for drinking/eating in the subway.
2) concrete jungle, high-rise buildings everywhere, and no nature.
Recently heard the most ridiculous misconception that:
3) after 10 pm in Singapore you can’t assemble a company of more than 2 people on street.
Also, people are surprised when I say that in Singapore everyone speaks English fluently. Well, I always act as a destroyer of myths and stereotypes about Singapore.
The most beautiful thing He ever did for me was…
when he proposed to me in Paris at the Trocadero in front of Eiffel Tower, pretending that it should be our usual self-made photoshoot. Then he surprised me and he told me that he asked permission to become my husband from my mother, and also my father at his grave. It was very touching. He also remembers all my religious holidays (I am a Muslim) and always congratulates my mother first, even though I don’t always remember about them. For me that’s beautiful!
During this relationship the most important thing I learned about myself was…
*I actually know English, (haha) because before meeting Amos, I didn’t speak English much.
* I’m good at photography. Amos discovered that talent in me. I always liked to take photos, but he developed my self-confidence and gave a push to do it more seriously. He always says he’ll support me in any of my endeavors!
If there is a piece of advice I could give to my fellow Western girlfriends who are into the AMWF relationships that would be…
in every relationship, there will be some problems, and in AMWF frequent problems happen usually because there’s no real understanding of each other’s culture and language, and both parties try to remake the other into the standards of his or her country.
Here is advice for both girls and boys: you need to be able to hear each other and make compromises. You were born in different countries and cultures, this must be understood and respected. Recognize each other, be interested in traditions, customs, history, learn the language of your partner! Your couple is a new “country” where everything should be in harmony and balance. If you don’t learn the language then when the entire family of your partner meets together, he can feel alienated. Think about the future of your children, they should feel comfortable in their family speaking both languages.
You also need to help your partner and understand him, if he is a person who is not in his native country, not with his family, and everything around him is different, including language, people, even food. Try to cheer him up and surprise him, cook his favorite, home country food that he misses, celebrate with him holidays that are close to him, even if you didn’t celebrate them before. Watch movies together in his native languages, like how we’ve found the golden means always go to the cinema for films with English voice and Russian subtitles. Try to make it so that he would feel at home in a foreign country.
Questions to Him
Asking Her out for the first time was…
easier than I thought it would be. I guess I was sincere with my words and was not too pushy, and she probably realized that too. We had our first date in a café, where we talked for hours and I tried to impress her with a paper flower and a star made out of two straws. I was leaving for Poland in 3 days, and I really wanted to see her again so I asked her out to dinner a couple of days later, and gave her a single large red rose. After that, I did not want to lose her after my trip, so I asked her to be my girlfriend that night. It was also a special day, the March (Vernal) Equinox.
I learned She is right for me when…
I asked her to be my girlfriend of course! Well, actually it was after my work trip to Poland the day after I asked her to be my girlfriend. We talked over the phone and had video calls every day, and I realized that I miss her a lot and I just wanted to get back as fast as possible to be with her. The day I was back she had a huge smile and a hug for me and I just knew we will be together for the rest of our lives.
I had a cultural shock when She…
added sour cream, or smetana, into soup! Russians LOVE their sour cream, and practically almost everything and anything is served with sour cream. I love several Russian soups, but imagine the horror when I saw her adding sour cream instead of pepper into a soup as a garnish!
3 things I love about Her are…
She is extremely caring and puts me before others. She takes care of me when I am ill, cleans the house when I am busy, sends me to the airport whenever I leave the country for work, bakes a Christmas cake when there is none in St. Petersburg, fixes my coat when it is torn, takes the day off work to celebrate the Singaporean holidays with me, and many other little surprises and acts to make me happy and solve any problems I may face in Russia.
How she is like my best friend- she understands me so well that she could literally read my mind, and we never run out of things to talk about. Sometimes I only have to say something like, “Huni (sic), let’s go…”, and she would know how to complete my sentence. We can also talk and laugh about anything and everything in the world, and she always listens to the jokes and random facts and news I come across.
The adorable little quirks and traits she has. Karina is extremely intelligent but like everyone else she does have some quirks and traits, such as how she types with two fingers, bad at math and takes some time to do mental arithmetic, putting her hair behind her ears, and always feeling cold, even in summer, where I am wearing minimum clothing and she’s all covered up!
The biggest misconception about Her country and culture was…
Russians are cold and unemotional. It might be true that Russians do not smile a lot, but it is just because they are reserved, and do not see a point in smiling at random people and looking like a person who is high on drugs. Russians are very welcoming and friendly- they are always more than willing to help, assisting others, and opening personally.
The things that She likes to do for fun with me are…
exploring new places around the world, binge-watching Netflix, and playing loads of games on our Nintendo Switch. Despite our busy schedules, we try to travel together a couple of times a year, and in the last 3 years, we have visited 8 cities in different countries. We always enjoy a lazy weekend at home together where we would binge-watch TV shows such as Westworld, Stranger Things, or trying to outsmart and beat each other at Puyo Puyo Tetris, Mario Kart, and Mario Tennis.
She hates when I…
am multi-tasking while she is talking to me. If she hears that I am typing something on my Macbook or doing something while she is talking to me, she would try to check if I am actually listening to her and tests me by asking me about things she just said. I never fail the ‘tests’ though!
During this relationship, the most important thing I learned about myself was…
l should not compare myself to others. As an orchestra conductor, a musician, there are others out there who are younger or of the same age who would have achieved a lot more, or gain more fame than I currently have. We also live in a digital world where it is easy to feel defined by the number of likes, followers, comments, and feel the pressure when reading about others on social media. Karina has been my greatest fan and critic, and she always reminds me that I should not compare myself with others, as there would always be someone more successful, more established than me. She reminds me that this comparison can be punishing, and she always encourages and inspire me and tells me that I am great in my own way.
If there is a piece of advice I could give to my fellow Asian friends who are into the AMWF relationships that would be…
love is sometimes not enough in a relationship. In my experience, you can love someone very dearly, but the relationship can still fail. You have to be patient, open-minded, clear, honest, and most importantly, willing to compromise in the relationship. Both of you would be very different, and you have to embrace the differences rather than make it a threat. Remember, sometimes you have to let her win because losing the argument is easier than losing her.
If you love the interview with Amos and Karina check out his Instagram.
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