He grew up in a small town, like me. He is about my age and also studied chemistry. He was my colleague for a few years but we couldn't be more different. I could hardly find a better example of cultural difference among my experiences. He had a girlfriend. She was beautiful and wore very sexy clothes. That's the one, he thought, but she was not easy. She gave him an ultimatum: he would either finish his PhD and get a good job, so he could support her, or she would leave him and find another man. He was planning to go to England or Germany for a few years, so he could return to his homeland and become a big scientist. He hoped that would be enough for her. I asked him if he thought she liked him for who he was. His answer surprised me, as he assured me obviously no, not yet. He would have to become a big professor first. But shouldn't she like him for who he was then, not who he would become? He tried to explain to me that that's not how it worked in his country. There, the rich men get the beautiful women. That's also why they are beautiful, he said, because they don't work and they have money to buy all the beauty related services. Men accept that because they want to hang around with a beautiful woman by their side. I became fascinated and horrified at the same time. We were in the 21st century! Our home countries were separated by 3000 Km, but our views were lightyears away! Another time I saw him holding a red rose and I commented how cute I thought he was trying to conquer her heart. He laughed at me. He said that the red rose was solely to guarantee that she would allow him to sleep with her that night.
It was not only him surprising me, but the opposite as well. He couldn't believe when I told him I was moving to another country because I had found a new job there. It was hard to believe for him, that I would keep working when I had a boyfriend that could support me. Another time, after I commented that I would get a lower salary when I would move, he shrugged his shoulders and said But you are a woman, you will get more money and things from your boyfriend.
I tried to explain him my views, over and over again, but he just couldn't believe it. He thought I was strange. I thought he was strange. He had probably never met any really independent woman before. I had never met anyone like him before either.
How about now? Has he changed? Has he been abroad and confronted with a different reality? Or is he paying for that or another girl's fancy lifestyle? I have no idea. I have never seen or contacted him again. I probably never will.
No matter what, I hope he is happy and enjoying whatever life choices he has made.