Being in the military is not just a job like any other; it’s a lifestyle.
When your spouse is in the military, you can expect major life changes without notice. Anticipating such changes, like orders for an overseas posting, can help you handle the stresses involved.
And while some of those stresses are certainly pleasurable — like the excitement of living in and discovering a new country and continent — others are not. The fact that you’ll soon be separated from your family and friends and everything you’re used to can be tough to deal with.
Culture shock should be expected. The upside here is that while your spouse may be expected to hit the ground running, you have time to acclimate.
And once you conquer the initial challenges that come with such a move, you may find that it has actually become the best experience of your life.
Here are a few tips that will come in handy when you get your first OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) orders.
1. Choose where you want to live.
Deciding whether to live on or off post is one of the most important things you will have to do when it comes to your overseas PCS.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each, but the ultimate decision is uniquely yours. What may work for one family won’t necessarily be right for another, so weigh the pros and cons in light of you and your family.
2. But don’t hide in the comfort zone.
One of the major challenges about being posted to a new place is the newness of everything.
Living on base is so much easier; you are basically recreating the same lifestyle you had stateside. According to Spousebuzz, living off base allows you to experience and explore a new environment when you are still fresh to it all.
Although it may be harder at first, it allows you and your family to learn about the local culture that surrounds you, including the cuisine and language.
3. Think about scaling back.
The process of deciding what to sell and keep, from the house itself to everything in it, can be daunting. Every duty station overseas has a limit to the weight of household goods and unaccompanied baggage.
It takes up to eight weeks for household goods to be delivered while unaccompanied baggage arrives in three weeks. The unaccompanied baggage is an express shipment meant to transport essential household wares. This shipment might contain pots and pans, your TV, bed sheets and kitchen appliances, plus extra clothes and whatever else you feel you might need immediately.
Large appliances like a refrigerator or dryer can stay in storage provided by the military. If you’re not shipping your car, then you’ll need to decide if you’ll store it or sell it. Household items you can do without can be got rid of by way of a garage sale.
Before storing your furniture at home, see if the new house is furnished. If not, compare the price of buying new furniture with that of shipping or storage.
On moving day, make sure everything is packed and sealed before you sign off on it; this will make any loss claims easier to file, if necessary. Make an inventory, color coding the items so that unpacking is easier.
4. Take “comfort items” you might miss from home.
It’s a big move; you don’t want to get to your new home and realize a week into your stay that you can’t find your children’s favorite pancake mix anywhere.
For this reason, stock up on all the durable goods you can. While you’re at it, check that your driver’s license is up to date and that your mailing address is changed to the new one.
5. Do your research.
While it won’t alleviate culture shock or homesickness, reading up on your new country can at least give you a sense of familiarity when you’re actually there.
Try to learn simple words and phrases of the language spoken there, especially if you’ll have locals as neighbors.
Originally published by Military Spouse. Used with permission.
Author Bio: Caylin White is a freelance writer and an avid artist. You can find her work at StockHax, a blog for stock traders and investors that features tips, trading news and investment tactics.