Military Matters: Steps to Prepare for Life Abroad

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Upon receiving news that you will be stationed in another country, innumerable thoughts run through your head. What should I bring? What will daily living be like? How will my family adapt? It is an exciting, stressful, and uncertain time for you and your family. How do you begin to prepare for such a drastic life change? One step at a time.

Begin learning about the culture.

Check out various guidebooks and informative literature from the library. Get a feel for your new country’s customs and practices. Start learning a few words of the new language. Once you become better informed on the culture, your upcoming move won’t seem as overwhelming an idea.

Talk to other service members.

You probably know a service member or two who have gone through the process of overseas relocation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get the details of their experiences. You can benefit from their knowledge and gain helpful tips for your big move. There are also online communities that specifically address concerns of military personnel moving overseas.

Talk to your sponsor.

You will be assigned a sponsor who will help you get around your new country and find accommodations. This person is also a seasoned veteran when it comes to living abroad. Ask him or her all the questions you have leading up to departure, from what kind of grocery items you can expect to find, to the size of closet you can anticipate in your new home.

Make lists.

Whether electronic or on paper, lists are good for everything. Write down what you need to accomplish before you leave, appointments you need to make, items you need to ship and those you need to store, contact information and emergency numbers, rules and guidelines, and important customs to remember. You cannot be too organized when it comes to moving your life thousands of miles away.

Scout it out.

If you can, take a preliminary trip to your soon-to-be home. This will allow you to explore your new environment under less stressful circumstances. Bring your family or a friend and treat it like a vacation. You will be able to gather important information about living there, and you will start out with a positive, relaxed mindset regarding the move. And your passport will already be in order!

Moving to a foreign country is one of the most stressful, exciting, and memorable things you will ever do. By planning carefully and in advance, you can make sure you remember all the important aspects of the move without going crazy. Enjoy your new adventure!

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