Friday, November 4, 2016

Why I Loved Living Overseas

There always seemed to be two types of military folks you meet overseas- those who absolutely hate it and can't wait for their tour to be up and those who love it and would do it again in a heartbeat.  I fall in the later category and heres why.

1) is the most obvious- the travel! Travel is expensive no matter where you live, but it's way cheaper to see things in Europe and Asia when you live there!  Besides Europe has cheap airlines.  Supposedly so does America- um, no they don't!  or at least I haven't figured it out yet!  I could get to England which was roughly a 10 hour drive, plus a ferry ride across the English channel, plus however long to get to where I wanted to go in an airplane for $300 round trip for my entire family of 6!  I can't find an airfare ticket from New Mexico to Utah- approximately a 10 hour drive under $300 a person!  Cruises still cost about $1000 a person, but you hit 3-5 countries!  So much more worth the price!  The people that didn't travel much were always the ones that hated it.  People would complain that their husband had to go TDY (temporary duty) all the time.  Guess what, so does everyone's.  Travel takes planning.  It would take me weeks to plan and we had to decide where we were going way in advance so my husband could get the time off.  The nice thing was that the DoDea schools let the kids miss school without having a fit, so you could go any time you could spare.  They figured with all the history and cultural experiences they were sure to have while traveling it would make up for school they were missing.  You still had to complete the work, but if you could do that and travel too, more power to you! I miss that attitude, so much, now that we are back in "regular" schools!

2) Experiencing another cultural and another way of life is enriching and opens your mind and the mind of your children.  People who live in one place their whole life tend to think that is the only way of living.  Even moving around the United States, which is huge and varied helps, but going to another country helps even more.  I saw this debate online where people were commenting about Christian values and celebrating Halloween.  Some people were very against it- these people were by in large not from the United States.  To us, Halloween is just a time to dress the kids up cute and parade them around the neighborhood looking for candy handouts from our neighbors (that we will secretly eat while the kids are at school)- nothing else.  The Americans could not understand the force with which some of these people were negative about Halloween.  Living in Germany when I was younger taught me about Hexenacht- German's version of Halloween.  There were a lot of pranks played that night and plenty of destruction.  It was celebrated mostly by teenagers.  Now Germany has adopted our ideas and dress their kids up cute and seek out Americans to get candy from!  But if you had grown up thinking Halloween was more about mischief and destruction and horrible things, you would have a very bad idea of people that celebrated it.  A little understand of others views goes a long way in helping bridge the gaps between us.

3) Learning another language- so many good things here!  Just look up all that good research!  I always shook my head at those people that complained about how hard it was and how they (the host country) should try a little harder to make themselves understood, because after all, English was the international language.  Really??  People, seize the day, seize the opportunities to learn and to grow!

4) Different food, different stores, different ideas- all worth exploring.  Sure, Amazon got most of our money while we were overseas and sure it took forever to get there- you just had to learn to plan ahead, which isn't a bad thing!  But exploring different stores helped us find Primark!  Love Primark! And Kath Kidson and her cute bags.

5) Healthy living-The food was mostly fresh and free of dyes (and the chocolate divine- ok that may not be so healthy!)  Recycling is a must.  Solar and wind energy are prevalent, energy efficient cars normal and public transportation everywhere.  If you don't live in places like New York or LA public transportation is slim to none in America.  It's kind of frustrating!  They also belief in a good walk outside at least once a day.  There are walking and biking trails everywhere!  Now if only they didn't smoke like fire chimneys they might actually live a little longer!  There are so many people who are fighting like crazy over the research on global warming.  I just shake my head- who cares if it is true or not? This earth is ours and we have a responsibility to take care of it. Why would doing something that would make the world a better place (whether it helps with the warming or not) be a bad thing?

6) Sure, you miss seeing family, but you miss seeing family most of the time you are in the military.  Few of us live close enough that we can go see them on a regular basis.  Your European family becomes your family.  It includes people from all walks of live and experiences.   Mine included quite of few from other countries like Thailand, Brazil, Italy, France.  You learn a lot from these people and they enrich your life.

7) Edit for Rob- Rob wants to add round a bouts and priority roads.  He hates that America hasn't gotten up to speed on those two things.  They make driving so much smoother!

Now don't get me wrong- I love America and think it's the best place in the world to live!  Life in Europe, is getting a little more dicey.  You had to watch that you didn't make it obvious that you were Americans.  I remember the AFN "commercials" when I was little about fitting in!  We mostly laughed at that, but this last time we were there, we tried.   Living on base was really hard for people too- it's all stairwell living there.  I would have hated living over in the enlisted stairwells.  They were nasty!  But we had really good neighbors who rarely, if ever complained and for the most part were clean, so I didn't mind it!  It was always easy when you ran out of something to either go a block to the store or down one flight of stairs to the neighbors!  I really enjoyed my time over there and I really believe I gave my children a gift.


Searls Stuff said...

This is exactly why I'm excited that my daughter, Rebecca, decided to take Seth and move to Greece. Her husband has worked overseas for most of their marriage and this is the first time it was in a place they could actually live together. She is having some trouble adjusting to being isolated because they don't have the comfort of being around a lot of Americans. I think she'll get used to it. Another down side is the face that the only consulate school my grandson could attend was a boarding school. He is enrolled in online classes. I know they are sacrificing a lot but in the long run it will be an amazing opportunity for them. Thanks for sharing your thought about this unusual lifestyle. I think we fell into the same category as you!

Anonymous said...

written like a true Brat. We learned you well baby girl