What You Need to Know About Being Stationed in Germany

So happy to have Malori from Warrior Life Wellness to tell us all about what it is like to be stationed in Germany! She has some great advice for anyone who will be pcsing to Germany anytime soon. Please let me know if you would like to guest post about where you are stationed!

stationed in Germany

Our OCONUS PCS

Moving to Germany is something that happens to “other military families.”  Just like I never thought I would marry a soldier, I never thought we’d get stationed overseas – even though it was a dream of mine to live in Europe.  Well, as you probably have guessed by now, I did marry a soldier and we did get stationed overseas! I knew we were in for the adventure of a lifetime, but I did not have proper expectations of what that entirely meant.

When my husband Mark received orders for Germany in 2017, he was deployed to east Africa.  I was back at Ft. Bragg, in my senior year of nursing school, so to say we had a lot on our plates is an understatement!  As it would happen, my husband had to report to Germany before I was done with school. So he did the geo-bachelor life for about three months.

stationed in Germany

This meant I had the pleasure of handling our first OCONUS PCS alone….while finishing nursing school.  (OCONUS = outside the continental United States) I don’t suggest these circumstances, but I did gain a certain sense of accomplishment from completing the move (and school) without anything major going wrong.  My parents came for my graduation and to help with the last-minute PCS tasks, like overseeing the movers. If you are ever in a solo PCS situation, especially overseas, get your family or close friends to help! It makes a world of difference.

Five days after graduation, I was on the Patriot Express to Ramstein, Germany; final destination, USAG Wiesbaden.  It was wonderful to simply live with my husband again after almost a year apart! But on top of that, we had a new country to explore together.  I definitely had my rose-colored glasses on, though. While having a positive attitude about any PCS is important, it’s equally important to have realistic expectations.  As my husband likes to preach: “expectation management.” This is not about being negative or complaining, but simply having a balanced outlook for your transition. It helps lessen that feeling of overwhelm.

Expectation Management

The first thing I did not expect was being so jet-lagged.  I had flown to Europe once before, when I was 20, and I don’t remember feeling particularly jet-lagged. But 12 years later? I felt like I got run over by a bus every day for at least two weeks! Even with sleeping 10-12 hours a night at first, I couldn’t conjure up my normal energy.  So my first piece of advice, for anyone moving overseas, is to give yourself plenty of time to adjust and sleep. It really does take several weeks to get over jet lag!

Another thing I did not expect was experiencing culture shock.  I again drew on my former European experience. I had spent 5 weeks in Austria for a summer music program, and I remember feeling like I fit in so well.  However, visiting Europe, even for an extended trip, is much different than coming here to live. (Austria is also very different culturally from Germany, despite both being German-speaking countries.)  I also assumed that since Germany is a first-world, western country, surely culture shock would not exist!  I even have experience with German culture, from doing Bavarian folk dancing and taking over four years of German language courses.

stationed in Germany

But my pride got the best of me and I struggled big time with adjusting.  Even if you live on post, like we are mandated to do, you have to get used to the driving rules, shopping on the economy, cultural nuances like shops being closed on Sundays, and most of all, the language.  There are also specific rules tied to being here with the military, like how to use VAT forms, what you cannot have sent to your APO box, getting your home-based business approved, and more. Expect that you will have a significant adjustment period to the culture. Because culture shock threw me for such a loop, I made a YouTube video about it! https://youtu.be/mqFEQIv4IjA You are not alone in your feelings.

Something else I have a bad habit of doing for any PCS is to believe that I can jump into a routine right away.  In our last PCS I was forced to do that, as I started pre-nursing courses almost immediately after arriving at Ft. Bragg. Other things like learning the best places and times to shop, learning the lay of the land, and finding your tribe take time.  Yet I always have this underlying belief that “this time” I’ll be more efficient. But with an OCONUS move, you have all the normal PCS adjustments to make, plus the foreign country aspect. With myself, I also had the added stress of studying for the NCLEX (RN nursing board exam), which I had to take in London, England.

stationed in Germany

So with an overseas move, I’d say to give yourself at least six months to feel fully “adjusted,” if not one year. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel homesick or are totally frustrated.  Normally OCONUS assignments are three years, so you will have at least two years during which you’ll feel pretty comfortable!

What helps with the transition overseas?

What makes a positive difference when moving to a foreign country is receiving your household goods.  (It IS possible for government housing to feel like home!) It also helps to meet your neighbors and to make at least one close friend with whom you can commiserate and go through this unique experience together.

stationed in Germany

Finally, get out and travel, travel, TRAVEL! The biggest mistake I made last year was isolating myself. I’m a combination introvert/extrovert, and after nursing school my extrovert was burnt out. I craved quiet time.  But after awhile, it got too quiet and anxiety set in. A great pick-me-up is finding a new place to visit during each month’s 4-day weekend! Make a list of your dream travel list, and then strategically plan your year according to the training holiday schedule.  It might take several trips to get the hang of European travel planning, but tons of traveling is something you will NOT regret!

Since a blog post can only be so long, I’ll leave my advice and tips at that. However, if you want more support in your OCONUS PCS and adjustment period, come find me on YouTube!  http://www.youtube.com/c/MaloriMayor14 I have a growing library of videos about how to PCS to Germany, as well as what life is like here.  I love helping other milspouses in their move to another country. It’s a monumental task, but you will be forever grateful for it.  Embrace the journey!


Bio: Malori Mayor is a registered nurse, classically-trained violinist, blogger and YouTuber, and most importantly, wife to Mark for almost 5 years.  Deployments, PTSD, and TBI may have rocked their world in past years, but they weathered through the hard times together and are currently enjoying an overseas assignment at USAG Wiesbaden, Germany.  Malori has been casually blogging for over 10 years on various personal blogs, but last year decided to create her business and new website, Warrior Life Wellness. On it she shares her take on health, wellness, and life in Germany.  She also creates YouTube videos about PCSing overseas and life in Germany for other milspouses who are walking the same path. She believes that rigorous organization is key to a smooth OCONUS PCS, so she recently opened an Etsy shop, where milspouses can purchase printable Overseas PCS Binder pages for creating their own organizational binder.  Connect with Malori on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook! 

Blog: https://www.warriorlifewellness.com
YouTube link:
http://www.youtube.com/c/MaloriMayor14
Instagram link:
http://instagram.com/warriorlifewellness
Facebook link:
http://www.facebook.com/warriorlifewellness
Etsy shop:
http://bit.ly/pcsbinder

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