Post by International Military Life Community Manager, Courtney Woodruff
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This November, next to my loving, supportive husband and my sweet, adventurous little boys, the opportunity to live overseas is at the top of my list of things I’m deeply grateful for in 2017. It has opened my eyes, inspired me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and changed me in ways I’m sure I won’t even realize until I’ve been settled back in the States for a while.
To gain a bit of perspective, I asked a group of military spouses who’ve been stationed all over the world - from Japan to Germany, from Spain to Italy, from North Africa to Hawaii - to share what they are most thankful for about their own overseas experiences. Here’s what they had to say:
Amanda, “It has been amazing to visit different places in Germany. I love all of the fresh food and I’ll truly miss it when we leave. Also being in Europe made me slow down a little bit and enjoy people more. The locals have been incredibly gracious and friendly. At the end of the day, the people and friendships I have made have been the most important. Friends become more like family when you are overseas because many of us won’t be going home to see our family until we leave. Although it has been trying at, times it has been well worth it.” - Amanda,
Karen, “I'm so thankful for all of my overseas experiences! I'm most thankful for the opportunity to see and truly experience the Japanese culture. Watching movies and reading articles about another country is one thing, but to live among the natives and experience their lifestyles and culture first-hand is truly an amazing thing! Some of it also gives you a different perspective on life and the things we (Americans) take for granted.”
Danielle from Nourish927, “Although we didn't get a full tour in Germany, due to a short notice Green to Gold acceptance, the short time we were there it was amazing. I loved how I could walk everywhere, how everything in Europe was at our doorstep. We could travel and see "bucket list" like places with little effort. The public transportation system was to die for and the food... major yum! The international experience was one I would never trade for anything in the world.”
Laura from Embark, “We traveled everywhere while we were in Germany. It inspired me to open my own travel agency and blog about traveling.”
Maggie, “Well, when you live in Italy, it's all about the food and sights! I am so grateful to take in so much history and culture in Europe and be able to expose my son to that too, even though he's little. It's hard living here at times, but that has only made us stronger as a family.”
Stacey, “Perspective. It's a gift that you didn't know you needed until you have it. Living overseas gave me a chance to gain a perspective that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I was able to see, smell and touch other countries and culture without a filter. It gave me the opportunity to understand how connected and yet disconnected we are as Americans from the rest of the world.”
Lizann from The Seasoned Spouse, “When we lived in Spain, we loved the chance to explore and travel in a new culture. Some people focused on flying to big cities like Paris or Rome. We preferred to do local day trips with our children and wander the streets of Southern Spain's smaller towns. Not only did we learn a lot about history and enjoy some great family time, but I also collected enough information about the area to publish my book, 'Welcome to Rota.”
Jennifer, “As a homeschool family, we loved being able to take advantage of traveling and learning about the places we had only read about or seen in videos. Our perspectives certainly changed, and we learned a new appreciation for so much. We feel like world citizens now.”
Nadia, “I had the opportunity to live in paradise! I loved getting to know the Hawaiian culture, its people, and the breathtaking scenery! I will never forget the aloha spirit!”
Elizabeth, “I’m currently stationed in Germany, and the most thing I’m thankful for is traveling to different countries with my kids. They should make a movie about our adventures.”
SJ from Fine Art America, “I am most thankful about the opportunity to learn about new and different cultures, as well as explore the foundations of ancient ones. My moves took me to Asia and North Africa. I was able to immerse myself in so many different walks of life and really understand and appreciate the history of our world and the perspectives of our host country nationals. Those are experiences few get to experience- as military families were are lucky to do so.”
Missy, “I am thankful that it challenged my kids and made them fearless. I sent my son off to his freshman year of college 2,500 miles away. Both of us have adjusted well, and I believe in large part that is because of his experiences of living 5 years in other cultures besides his own.”
Julie from Soldiers Wife Crazy Life, “Being able to see another country live their lives. Traveling is amazing but to actually live in a community and experience their lives was eye opening to me. And I am so thankful for that.”
Amy, “So many reasons to be thankful for our time here! I appreciate learning about other cultures, travel, and showing my children places I never dreamed I would visit, let alone take my children to! As a mother to young children, I also appreciate the sense of community that the military base provides. It has a very small town feel, and we don’t have a lot of the distractions that are in the US.”
Denise, “We lived in Yokosuka, Japan for three years and I’m so thankful my family got to experience the culture! Not only did we get to visit the most amazing sites and eat the freshest food, we also witnessed first-hand the Japanese people’s’ pride in their work, their deep sense of respect for others and their environment, and their discipline. We’ve been back stateside for over five years now, and we still look back fondly at our time in Japan, and hope to return for a visit someday soon!”
Miranda, “We were in Atsugi, Japan, and I am the most thankful for being able to experience firsthand the different culture, customs, traditions and lifestyle. Japan was very different from America, and I absolutely loved every moment of it!”
Katie, “Loved the opportunities to travel! Often and cheaply!”
Have you been stationed overseas? We would love to hear: What are you most thankful for about your experience?
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