by Lindsay Swoboda, Guest Contributor
The overseas orders are cut and you are facing a whirlwind of preparation.
- Should you bring the car?
- What side of the road do they drive on?
- What is going into storage?
- Will you buy furniture there?
- Are you unlocking your phones?
- How many new immunizations are you going to be shot up with?
- Can you find work over there?
- Are there schools for your children?
- What will the language barrier be?
The list of questions is endless. There is a curious cocktail of excitement and fear of the unknown brewing within. You are not alone in feeling an intense roller coaster of emotions.
Moving overseas is one of the best and most challenging portions of military life.
It can be the holy grail of assignments: beautiful country, amazing food, cheap travel to places of your wildest dreams. Or it can rate up there as one of your worst duty stations yet.
The choice is yours. It’s all within your perspective, but there are 5 traits that will help you have the best experience you can.
5 Traits to Embrace for an Overseas Move
Embrace a Research Mentality
Remember in grade school when you received an assignment that you had to go to an actual library for? You flipped pages and clicked through the internet with an intense fervor?
It’s time to do this again.
With all the moving details that need to be squared away, your to-do lists will be long with prep and it’s easy to get lost in it. But find a few moments a week to study your new country. What is there to see? How do they dress? What will you eat there? Start learning how to say basics in the foreign tongue.
Knowledge is power, so the more you can brush up on your new land, chances are the better (and a touch more real) you will feel about this move.
Embrace Low Expectations
This sounds like the Debbie Downer of trait adaptations, but rest assured it is a mindset that will carry you far within your first few weeks. Wherever you have been stationed, it is a country unlike your own. You are no longer in America, and the rules and basic way of life are different here. You cannot expect it to resemble what you knew.
Unfortunately, you will always be an outsider wherever you are stationed overseas. Why? You are a temporary transplant to the scene. You will leave eventually. Getting by while you’re in country is possible – you will even be thriving in it in a few months! However during your transition time, you are best to not make comparisons and keep your expectations low.
When the expectations stay low, you leave yourself room to grow and find out what the country does have to offer.
It will start with little things like you don’t love your housing assignment. But at least you have a house. Your household goods and vehicle will take forever to get there but now you’ve pulled in tight as a family and made do with what you have. There’s no peanut butter (enter your comfort food of choice) but hey, there’s Nutella or something else you could love.
It’s easy to despise a place quickly because of how uncomfortable it makes you. Hang in there and start with low expectations, leaving plenty of room to move up from there.
This trait is of epic importance for you to enjoy your time overseas. If you can look at the new world around you with a child’s eyes – you are bound to find the small joys hidden everywhere in plain sight.
Try a new food!
Get a little lost in a rambling marketplace.
Take the train instead of driving.
Be bold in the knowledge that whilst you may not ever fit in here, you are open to discovering this new place and chapter of your life.
Life moves at a far different pace. It may be faster or slower than you are used to. Simple fixes to your house will probably take a far greater effort and/or the work crew might just rig something together that resembles a rat’s nest and call it good.
When you go to prepare a meal you’ve made for years – the ingredients might not be available in country. You will sigh and then drop whatever you need in an Amazon cart and wait 3 to 6 weeks for that familiar taste.
It is not easy to be patient, but it is necessary to not going insane over small details.
Somewhere along your road to adapting to your new country, you will need to tap into acceptance. It may happen naturally for you. But more often, you must choose it. You must choose to be present in where you are and create a new reality for yourself.
An overseas tour is an exciting, daunting, challenging and crazy time for a military family. It might just be the thing you signed up for.
Military life boasts amazing adventures so you have received a winning ticket into the unknown. Work on researching, keeping low expectations, cultivating curiosity, having patience and developing acceptance when embracing your overseas move.
You are well on your way to finding the adventure in this new journey.
What traits do you think are helpful for military spouses living overseas? Tell us in the comments section.
Lindsay is a military wife, mom and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. You can connect with Lindsay on Facebook and Instagram.