Billy from the United States and Mei from China just happened to be in the same hot tub at the same time and instead of soaking their troubles away, they found love.
After working at the student recreation and wellness center on campus, Mei Lu decided to take a swim, followed by a relaxing soak in the hot tub.
When she slipped into the hot tub, not only did her troubles melt away, but so did her heart.
In the hot tub with her was Billy Koenig, who also just finished working out and decided to relax in the hot tub.
“Because it’s such a small area, we had to talk to each other,” Mei explained. “After that, we exchanged phone numbers.”
It wasn’t much longer when the two decided to start dating, even though they couldn’t really agree on how the relationship officially started.
“We didn’t really ask each other out,” Billy laughed. “We started to see each other more frequently, we really hit it off. We were together often enough and felt connected to each other enough that we kind of decided we were dating!”
“He asked me out,” Mei laughed. “I think it was through a text message.”
Both agreed it didn’t really matter how they officially started dating. They picked Valentine’s Day to be their anniversary and they will celebrate being together two years today.
During their time together they’ve had to face some unique challenges, considering Billy is from the United States and Mei is from China.
“China is very different from the U.S,” Billy started. “She considers herself more traditional, it’s because of that I need to take the time to become more aware of cultural traditions and to understand them.”
For example, taking the significant other home to meet the parents can have a very different meaning in China than it does in the United States.
“I learned through Mei when you bring someone home to your family right away, that indicates you’re in a serious relationship. When we did that, I don’t think we were quite there yet,” Billy laughed. “She might have been freaking out inside!”
But Billy expressed how pleased he was that Mei is patient and flexible when it comes to learning about American culture.
“I think we have different hobbies or interests because of different cultures,” Mei explained. “He loves many sports and he goes bowling almost every day. And for me I’m good at math and have a high GPA. I think we have different interests, but we can match each other.”
When giving advice for others whose significant other is from a different country, both agreed patience is important.
“Patience is a necessity to gain the proper understanding and respect of other people’s culture,” Billy explained.
“Because of cultural difference, if you date a guy or girl from a foreign country, you may get culture shock. You have to tolerate and you can learn good and different things,” Mei shared.
Billy Koenig is a senior, teaching English as a second language major at Kent State University.
Mei Lu graduated in December 2012 with her master’s in accounting. She is currently on OPT.