Three years ago my husband received the military orders that many dream of — we were on our way to Hawaii. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be paradise turned out to be a nightmare for me for our first year living there.
In Hawaii, I felt lonely, far away from family and friends, and missed many of the “normal” things from my previous life. Living in one of the most beautiful places in the world was more difficult than I had imagined and numerous factors affected me. It took a year before I adapted and became comfortable and happy in our new locale.
Picking up and moving thousands of miles away from friends and family to a foreign place can be a difficult task. However, there are a few tips and resources you can utilize to make this somewhat drastic transition an easier one.
Do your research
Moving overseas means new customs, food and languages. Before you go, use the internet to learn about the area in which you will be living. Knowing these things ahead of time will make for less of a culture shock when you encounter them. And though it’s great over time to get used to shopping at the local markets and stores, you’ll want to research and find out where you will be able to get some of the items that make you feel close to home too.
A new time zone is one of the biggest changes to get accustomed to when the military sends you overseas. Keep the time difference in mind and figure out the best hours to connect with family and friends back home. Skype is an amazing tool and can be used to make phone calls and video chat. In addition, services like Vonage allows you to call anywhere for one set low price. Knowing that you can talk to loved ones whenever you want can make the whole experience much better.
Italy, Germany and Hawaii are just some of the exotic dream spots the military affords us the chance to live in. The idea of exploring a country where English is not the first language is a bit scary, but military have the privilege of utilizing the MWR Travel Office on base. It is here you can learn about activities to do on your military installation, group bus trips and other travel specials. The idea of traveling through services familiar with the country and who speak English will be a relief.
Join online spouse groups
Facebook has positive advantages when it comes to meeting others who share similar situations. For military spouses overseas, there are a wide range of groups where you can interact with families already living abroad. Take this time to not only ask questions but develop friendships, so when you move you already have a small group of support in place. A simple Google or Facebook search can lead you to a group for the military installation you are moving to.
Immerse with locals
My kids went to school in Hawaii for almost three years. My son’s kindergarten teacher was from Japan and spoke Japanese better than English. My son, at the young age of 6, became well versed in many of the basics of the Japanese culture and language because of this amazing teacher. Additionally we took time to visit restaurants and eateries that were off the beaten path and immersed ourselves with the locals. It was by talking to many of them that we began to truly learn about the beauty and history of this amazing place we had the privilege to live.