February 18, 2016 10:50 AM

It’s been seven months since they got engaged on the season finale of The Bachelorette, and Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth are happily adjusting to life off camera.

“We were so excited to be normal,” Bristowe tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “For so long [while the show was airing], we were separated and told we couldn’t do this or do that. It was the most exciting thing in the world when we could go on our first date together!”

For exclusive photos and much more from Kaitlyn and Shawn, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Now, the couple are settling into their new Nashville home – and looking forward to showing their fans who they really are.

“We were disappointed in how the show played out,” says Bristowe, 30, of the drama-filled season, which often emphasized the tension between Booth and Bristowe’s runner up Nick Viall. Adds Booth, 29: “We had this amazing love story and all these great times, but so much was focused on Nick and me. We were confused.”

That’s water under the bridge now, they say. “It worked out, so that’s the main thing,” says Booth, 28. “Everything that happened, happened for a reason.”

Adds his bride-to-be: “It’s nice for us to be ourselves and show the world how we are together [and] what we like to do. It felt like starting over.”

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