Learning how to transition gracefully
July 18, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - No move is ever stress-free. With support and a positive attitude the task can be accomplished more smoothly.
As a military child, during my first 13 years, I moved from state to state eight times. On my 14th year, I no longer moved from another state, I moved to a different country.
Our duty station was in the Republic of Korea, and we were anxious about what to expect. Not only was the jetlag a killer, but also adapting to a whole new culture was hard. The continent of Asia was fast-paced and technologically up-to-date, and the language barrier was difficult to overcome. It was rare to encounter a person who could speak and understand English.
But as the months flew by, things got easier. We began adjusting to everything; from how to ride the trains, how to bargain with taxi drivers and discovered all of the popular shopping areas.
In my two years of living in Asia I became more experienced with technology, the means of transportation and surprisingly, the language. Once we received our orders to another country, Germany, we were prepared for anything.
We landed in Germany and were unaware that we were in for a rude awakening of European customs. The lodging we stayed at had no air conditioning, the windows could be accessed three different ways, and there was no wireless Internet.
Asia was so enhanced with all of the newest machinery and tools; it was hard to realize that Germany was the complete opposite. Whereas in Korea we lived in a 24-floor apartment complex; it was quite different in Germany. My family and I were now living in a house that had no air conditioning, which caused us to use fans.
We weren't sure if we would enjoy our new duty station until we realized that there was so much to see and do. European countries aren't that far apart, unlike Asia where the countries are separated by bodies of water. We could now travel by car and not have to pay the expense of a plane ticket.
Immediately, we started to explore different destinations. We had great experiences in countries such as France and Ireland. Both of these countries consisted of a lot of activities and friendly people.
This summer we plan to travel to other countries as well.
The best advice I can give a child or family on transitioning to an unfamiliar state or continent is to never be closed-minded about any aspect of the new place. If you don't get out to see what that state or country has to offer, you will be missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Try to be positive and imagine being a person who has lived in the same place his or her entire life. Then you'll learn to appreciate that you have the chance to explore and experience new things.
If you can open your mind, you will never be disappointed. (Kierra Carr is a volunteer with the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office. She will be a senior at Wiesbaden High School this fall.)