My milspouse friend Lindsay has lived in some really cool places and shares a little bit about how she faces those down days and beats the funk of living overseas. I hope you can benefit from her advice. ~Rebecca
You have moved to a foreign country! Getting orders for an overseas duty station means an exciting, different land where unique experiences await. As friends and family find out that you have received a choice location many will get their own travel booked to come visit. Most will be encouraging. Some will be mad you are going so far away. A few will be insanely jealous. You will pour through travel books and be up to your eyeballs in moving details. All too soon the plane will land, the passport will be stamped, and your new life shall begin.
But the reality is that you are far from the culture you know. You may at times feel lost. It is incredibly difficult to have to move away from all that’s comforting. There will be amazing adventures in this new place, but there will also be harrowing days where you’ll secretly want to pack a bag and get the heck out.
As a military spouse that is enjoying (and enduring) her second overseas move, I know it is a roller coaster of emotions to get settled in a foreign country. If you are the military spouse, you have essentially been dropped in the country without a job, without a vehicle yet, not speaking the language, and with no idea how to get around. Your active duty member will go off to work, you will be left with days to fill and figure out. You will need to find your way around, find new friends, perhaps even job hunt and/or get kids off to school.
It is a tough and lonely time and you might find yourself feeling the Overseas Living Funk. Here are 5 ways to face it:
Admit the Honeymoon Period is Over
The swirl of moving and getting to country keep you busy for months. Then the tempo is increased when you arrive; you find your way around and work to establish community. But then a new challenge presents itself, called: You are LIVING here and NOT leaving anytime soon.
All they adorable things about the new country will make you mad and frustrated. You’ll run out of patience. The “carpe diem” well runs dry. It’s OKAY. Not every day in a foreign country is a perfect Instagram picture. Many, most, are not. Know that the feeling is normal, but don’t linger down too long. Admit the honeymoon romance is over, and work on cordially dating your new-now old, country.
Lean Into Low Days
Are you impatient with feeling down? Moving takes a lot out of you, and it’s easy to brush emotions aside or bury them somewhere. Find a way to lean in. Have a good cry about it. Watch a feel-good movie. Order your favorite food comfort from Amazon and rejoice when it arrives to your door. It’s best when you can be honest with your own overseas living journey. Continue to pay attention and take care of yourself, so that you may continue to care for those around you.
Culture shock, depression, loss of identity-these are real issues when you move overseas. Do not hesitate to ask for help if you feel you need it. Also get help from those around you. Your community is out there somewhere, and with today’s technology, a friendly face and voice may only be a minute’s phone call away.
Keep Being You
Remember that person you were before moving? Got a clear picture of them in mind? Okay then. You are a big brave dog. You made it all the way over here. Each day presents a different challenge, but you are a military spouse. You have most likely faced some tough challenges before. You can do anything you put your mind to, and you are still the same YOU. The beauty of living overseas is that a place can leave you changed if you let it, and you can also change a place. You are the only YOU there.
After addressing your funk, it’s time to face your next choice. Refocus on what this move can mean for you and your family. Set small goals to master. Whether it is walking to four new places a week, trying a different food, updating a resume, going back to school online or contacting family and friends more often, there are endless positive things you can do with this time.
No one said this was going to be easy. The reward of living overseas, of rising above on days you might not want to, is amazing. Every step you take out of your door is a new adventure. Some people live their whole lives in one town, one state, and one frame of mind. You are getting the opportunity to try another way. You may get in an overseas living funk. But if you do, you will face it- and shake it.
Lindsay of Uplifting Anchor is a military wife, mom, and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. A journal with scribbles is never far from her side, and being outdoors lifts her soul. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. You can follow Lindsay on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.