Embracing Where You Live

Photo Credit: Marcy Kellar

“I could live anywhere but ____.”

“If my spouse gets an overseas assignment, I’m not going.”

I’m always mystified when military spouses say things like this, but I’ve heard different versions of both of the above (Yes, I realize some folks choose to stay and let their kids finish school at a particular location–I’m not talking about that.). To me, one of the most unique aspects of military life is the opportunity to travel and experience places you may have never visited otherwise!

For instance, over the past couple of decades, our family has: skiied in the Alps, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, strolled through the streets of Rome, London, and Paris, and lived on two tropical islands. Our kids traveled to Greece, Poland, Lithuania, and other countries for mission trips, youth retreats, and sports tournaments when we were stationed in Germany. A little closer to home in the U.S., we’ve lived within view of the Capitol building in D.C., held onto our hats while skimming across the Everglades in a fan boat, shoveled feet of snow in North Dakota, and strolled through the coolness of the giant redwood forests. From my desk in Hawaii, I often stopped to watch submarines and ships slip into the Pearl Harbor channel. As a young girl growing up in the desert southwest, these were places I’d only read about, much less thought I’d ever see in person!

Yet, some military spouses don’t view a new assignment as the opportunity it is. I completely get the culture shock of arriving at a new location-especially overseas. I’ve even experienced a bit of a culture shock when moving from one part of the country to a completely different area.

My advice: give yourself some time and grace to get used to the new location. Then, get out there! During our last move, I heard people who’d lived there for years say they’d rarely left the base or hadn’t even made time to visit the basic tourist locations. What?! So that will be the first of my “get to know your location” tips:

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