You know the drill with romantic comedies: Boy finally realises that he’s in love with Girl before he rushes to the airport to stop her from leaving forever (Ross and Rachel from Friends, anyone?). In fact, the airport has long been a locale — be it in real life or ‘reel’ life — for bittersweet goodbyes.
However, for Joshua and Joanne, the airport was where their romantic relationship began. While the couple insisted that their destined encounter wasn’t as dramatic as what most of us have witnessed in Korean dramas, their ‘meet-cute’ did occur due to unexpected and extraordinary circumstances. Read on as the couple opens up to us about the pivotal moments that led to where they are today.
The romantic leads
Joshua and Joanne both dream of saving lives, and are third-year students at the University of Glasgow (UOG). Joshua, 23, is studying to be a doctor, while Joanne, 22, is studying to be a veterinarian.
The unusual setting
"When COVID-19 first hit in March 2020, my flatmate and I were afraid that Singapore would soon close its borders. We quickly decided to book our flight tickets and rush back home,” revealed Joanne. As Joanne and her flatmate arrived at the airport, feelings of uncertainty and anxiety were looming in the air — given the unwelcome arrival of the pandemic and the abrupt arrangements many international students like Joanne had to make in order to reunite safely with their families.
Amidst a flurry of unknown faces rushing in and out of the arrival and departure halls, Joanne’s flatmate spotted a familiar figure in the crowd and hollered, “Hey, isn’t that Joshua?” Her flatmate’s exclamation broke a little of the tension that Joanne had experienced all day. It felt nice to meet with another person who was going through the same predicament as them. “I’ve briefly seen Joshua at university events before, but I didn’t really know him,” said Joanne.
Having heard a voice call out his name, Joshua swiftly turned around and saw two young women — Joanne and her flatmate — who were also waiting to board the next flight back to Singapore. “Here’s the thing,” added Joshua. “I could’ve ended up on another flight instead of this one as I had planned to travel back home with my friends. But I eventually decided to go solo instead.”
Without thinking much, he walked over to the duo and greeted them. He recognised both of them but had failed to recall Joanne’s name. Still, he proceeded to initiate a little small talk. “I thought to myself: I could probably say whatever I wished since I’m probably never going to see them ever again. Boy, was I wrong,” he admitted.
Joshua and Joanne’s first encounter didn’t involve any dramatic fight scenes or gut-wrenching moments. However, throughout the course of their 18-hour journey en route to Singapore, romantic sparks flew and both experienced multiple instances that made their hearts skip a beat. It started with Joshua sharing photos of his new pup with Joanne, and unbeknownst to him, Joanne was an avid animal lover!
The turning point
Joshua’s second major ‘win’ in Joanne’s eyes happened when she noticed his consideration for others. Turns out, during their stopover in Dubai, Joshua had patiently waited for Joanne and her flatmate to freshen up in the restroom and had also continued to accompany them throughout the flight. “I honestly believed that we would’ve gone our separate ways after landing in Dubai. But I was pleasantly surprised! He hung around with us even though we weren’t that close at the point in time,” gushed Joanne.
Having exchanged good feelings and plenty of friendly, harmless banter during the trip, Joanne decided to hit “follow” on Joshua’s Instagram. What then followed were countless late-night conversations, virtual movie dates and more, which eventually culminated with one of them confessing their love for the other three months later.
Plot twist: Girl confesses her love for Boy
“Who wouldn’t be afraid of making the first move? You’re dealing with potential rejection here! But when I pieced the puzzle together, I thought that the feeling was mutual. I didn’t feel the need to hold back any longer. It was a matter of who’s going to initiate the conversation first,” confessed Joanne.
Joanne proceeded to send a lengthy text message to Joshua after checking it multiple times. “I felt so nervous after sending that text. I even had to ask my friend to distract me,” she shared. Once again, to Joanne’s delightful surprise, Joshua replied to her note in a matter of minutes and told her that he’d like to give her a “proper response” that she rightfully deserved and would get back to her as soon as he could.
“That was so considerate of him and as promised, he replied me an hour later, fully addressing everything that I wrote in my note. Also, his grammar was perfect,” Joanne added.
From Joshua’s point of view, he was content with taking things nice and slow with Joanne. “Over the course of the COVID period, we became much closer and talked every day. But from the moment we met, I thought we were quite compatible since we had hit it off from the start. I always knew that I would end up liking her,” he admitted. This time, it was Joanne’s confession that came as a lovely surprise to him instead.
Compatibility + compromise = recipe for romantic success
“With my previous relationships, I always hoped that even if my partner and I weren’t compatible as a couple, we could still try to make it work. However, after meeting Joshua and realising how comfortable and compatible we are with each other, it’s made the relationship so much more natural and enjoyable. I used to fixate so much on celebrating anniversaries, but with him, I didn’t feel the need to prove anything. It just felt right,” revealed Joanne.
As for Joshua’s perspectives on relationships prior to meeting Joanne, he had assumed that a marker of a healthy relationship was that “you don’t fight at all.” He soon realised that like any other couple, fights happen and what’s most important is “learning to resolve problems together.” Joanne added: “Yes, and that you don’t let each other go to bed angry. After every fight, you grow as a couple as you learn more about each other. But also, compromise!”
Looking back at how their meet-cute at the airport brought them together, Joanne shared: “I thought our chance encounter was simple yet unexpected! We don’t hear of such stories happening in real life, but it was quite cool how different factors led to where we are today.”
So, if this meet-cute were given the chance for a do-over, would the couple have rewritten this scene and done anything differently? Both gave a resounding “no”, with Joanne concluding, “We wouldn’t change a thing because that’s what makes first encounters special. We’d allow things to happen naturally and let them play out the way they were meant to be.”
And with the chemistry, connection and compatibility that Joshua and Joanne share with each other, their love, too, was meant to be.
(Cover photos from: Joanne and Ekaterina Belinskaya via Pexels)
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