I have a love-hate relationship with overseas living. As rewarding as it is, it is emotionally and mentally hard as hell.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had, memories I’ve made, and friends I’ve met for anything; I absolutely love where I’m at. But at the same time, I hate it and I want to go “home.”
Nobody can prepare you for all the feels you get once you’ve settled into your new home abroad. On bad days, I yearn for familiarity and the comfort zone official orders forced me out of. On good days, I’m planning coffee or a girls’ trip to some European country with my new “village.”
Living overseas is such a hot and cold topic for so many spouses for several reasons. You can love it and plan to retire in whatever country the military shipped you to, you can flat out hate it and be counting the days until your next PCS, or you can love it and hate it all at the same.
I know at least one spouse hoping to stay, but I’ve witnessed another packing up her kids and moving back home to finalize a divorce. And then, there are the friends who could honestly go either way — stay or go.
Plus, I feel like it’s a bit glamorized – like it’s this incredible and unique opportunity. While it is not lost on me how blessed I am, it’s still a difficult stage of military life.
We currently live in the United Kingdom, our second overseas assignment in 10 years of military life. Our first was to Okinawa, Japan. While I look back on it and feel so grateful for those three years, it was one of the scariest and most challenging things I’ve ever had to do.
Fast forward to our current station, and I feel the same exact way. You’d think it would get easier — and I suppose the day-to-day does — but the reality of it is still the same.
We are tested in every way. It’s not simply moving from base to base stateside, as most of us are accustomed to; it’s moving out of the country. It’s leaving behind family and friends, throwing everything familiar out the window, and being shoved into different cultures.
Simultaneously, our service member is deploying or working long hours and if we want to at least tread water (and not drown), we have to build a life of our own. We are forced to find and create a new village and develop a routine and normalcy.
Meeting new people and making lifelong friends are among the most significant rewards of living overseas. Putting yourself out there, again and again — and I kid you not, there are so many spouses who put out ads for friends. It’s simply a must. I’ve met the very best people who I will know and love for the rest of my days.
One of the other benefits is the travel opportunities. Imagine walking down Harajuku Street in Tokyo, playing with elephants on a beach in Phuket, waking up with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and riding a gondola down the canals in Venice.
Living overseas is part of this rollercoaster life we live, and though it’s not easy, it’s most definitely worth it.