When Being Stationed Overseas is Hard

When Being Stationed Overseas is HardWhen Being Stationed Overseas is Hard

It’s been 5.5 years since we have returned to the US from Germany. We were over there for four years. In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago. I look at all the photos from that time and they warm my heart. I think about how simple life was then. How beautiful everything was. How much I got to see. It is easy to forget that our time there wasn’t always easy, especially since my husband was deployed twice for a total of 2 years and 3 months.

I tell people that if they ever get the opportunity to go overseas, they should. Being overseas is an amazing experience and you never know if you will ever get the overseas option again. You might not and this could be your only chance.

What to Expect When You Are Stationed Overseas

It is important to know what to expect when you get over there and how sometimes being overseas can be hard. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, it just means that you should be aware that when you are over there isn’t necessarily going to be 100% wonderful all of the time. If you think being overseas is going to be like that, you might get really disappointed when life doesn’t work out that way.

Living overseas can be difficult because you will start to miss certain things about the US. You will miss your family and might not be able to see them for the years you are over there. Yes, for some people being overseas means going years without being able to see your family. Not everyone can afford to visit home and not everyone has family that can come visit. You can sometimes feel like you are stuck in a Military world and it can be difficult to take a break from that. You might have small children that are hard to travel with and a spouse who is always gone.

I think being away from family can be the hardest part about living overseas. You can’t go home for the weekend. You can’t even go home for a week. If you go home, it is going to be a huge trip.

Missing Your Home Country

When we were in Germany I started to miss a lot of the restaurants and stores I loved that were in the states. Although there are a lot of great opportunities for new food experiences overseas, sometimes you want something you are used to having on a regular basis. There is a Chilli’s at Ramstein and ended up being closed when we were there. Thinking about that right now with one just 5 minutes away makes me laugh but I was pretty bummed out at the time. The PX will have American food. Ours had Taco Bell, Popeye’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and a Subway. I told myself I would never eat from those places again once I moved back but that didn’t last too long.

The Military Community Overseas

When you are overseas you are going to have access to the Military community in a way you don’t in the US. I never really understood that until we got to Fort Campbell. In Germany, we had to depend on the post for a lot of things. Our mail, all our healthcare, any American items we needed, etc. The Military post was “home” in a place that wasn’t home. The military installation was a little break from having to be the outsider. Because of this, the Military community is a lot closer than it is in the United States. This was even truer when we were at Schweinfurt because there were only about 3,000 soldiers who were stationed there.

Embracing Overseas

When being overseas is hard, try to remember the bigger picture. Yes, you will miss things about the United States. You will miss your family and all of that can be so difficult. But if you are able to get out and explore, even in your Germany city you will start to see the benefits of being stationed overseas. If you can truly embrace being overseas you will make memories that will last you a lifetime even when being stationed overseas is hard.

 

Have you felt like this when you were overseas? What did you do about it?

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “When Being Stationed Overseas is Hard”

  1. Totally agree! Being so far away from family is hard. This is our first time away from our daughter, who just turned 21 and is in college at our previous duty station. We haven’t seen her in two years. My husband’s mother is in her 90s and will likely not survive our return date. I missed the deaths of both my mother and sister. Our story is not unique for OCONUS military families.
    Everything is “extra” when you’re stationed OCONUS. Everyday errands can get complicated and you can’t take ANYTHING for granted. The language barrier can get exhausting, even for those of us fortunate enough to speak the local language. It’s hard not fully understanding the culture and customs you live among, and always feeling like an outsider. Misunderstandings are often blown out of proportion because of the gap in cultural understanding. Often, residents of your host nation don’t even really want you there. Or they’re obsessed with American products and want you to buy them everything in the PX (American KitchenAid stand mixers are in high demand among our German neighbors–hint: illegal and totally not worth the trouble you’d get into).
    And on post, privacy is at a minimum because it’s a smaller community; everyone knows what you’re up to–what food you buy, what mail you get, whom you’ve argued with, whom you spend your time with ( I once showed a young man around the commissary and three wives approached me later that week on three separate occasions to ask me who he was, since they knew he wasn’t my husband)!
    There are many amazing opportunities for those stationed overseas, especially those who explore the local culture and all the travel opportunities. But you have to approach the situation realistically and realize that it will often be difficult and confusing. And that’s okay.

  2. Living overseas is tough. We have only been in Spain about 6 weeks. My husband has been gone for 4 of them. Since he has been gone our son (6) got sick then our daughter (1) did. Our daughter ended up having to stay at the hospital on base. I had to stay with her so my son ended up staying with a family I had just begun to get to know. My neighbors and new friends checked on us constantly. I have never liked to depend on other but I will say that you have to when you are overseas. Thank the good Lord for my new friends and neighbors. I am so thankful I opened up to others. We haven’t been here long, but even with all our trials, we will make this the best station we can.

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