Way back in 2017, when my husband was discussing with his Career Manager, where his next posting would be, we were very lucky to have an element of choice. We basically had two options, one elsewhere in the UK and one in the States. We took a long time weighing up all of the pros and cons – I love a pros and cons list! One of the biggest pros to moving here was that it would allow us, and our kids, to experience a different way of life and an understanding of cultural differences. However, one of the biggest cons was obviously moving away from our friends and family, i.e., our support network.
This is the first posting that Hubby has had which has involved a move for us, so I have always had my friends and family nearby and didn’t really have to think about what support might be available through the Military. I have discovered a great group of Military Spouses here and we regularly meet for various social events, book club, coffee, etc. Almost all of them are more experienced at moving every 2-3 years, more frequently in some cases, and have been a wonderful source of support and information.
What we didn’t expect, but are so grateful for, is the International community that we have also become a part of here. There are a group of military officers who are all based nearby but come from all across the world and their spouses are a close group. They welcomed me almost as soon as we arrived and I really appreciated being able to meet people who had all been in the same position as me – starting out in a new country without knowing a single person. It’s a scary prospect!
In this group we have a huge range of nationalities and it is really interesting to be able to hear about different countries and customs. We also use any excuse to be able to sample the foods from these different countries, which I love! We have been able to try foods from Korea, Turkey, Australia, Japan and aren’t our friends lucky that they can try shortbread?! Ahem. If only we could buy haggis over here, then they’d be in for a real treat!
The great thing about this group is that it is also family orientated, there are regular events which include our children and I’m so grateful for this. When we were deciding if we wanted to move to the States, we really wanted our kids to be able to experience a different country and culture. We have been so lucky to meet this international group as it has opened up conversations with our kids about how things are done differently across the world. Of course we could have easily talked to them about that in Scotland but for them to be able to understand a little more about their new friends has been invaluable.
We have also made some good friends amongst a group who have various connections to the UK, and Scotland in particular. They all live here permanently but it is so nice to be able to talk about ‘home’ with people who also consider it home. Please don’t get me wrong, we love living here but it doesn’t stop us missing home. The first time I met this group I remember thinking about nice it was to hear people using the word ‘wee’ in every other sentence. ‘Do you want a wee coffee?’ ‘I’ll be back in a wee minute’. Music to my ears!
Although I don’t have a language barrier to overcome like some of my International friends, I do still have to think about the words I use here. There are various words that are different here: pavement/sidewalk, lift/elevator for example. Although it isn’t difficult, I sometimes find myself overthinking what I say when I’m talking to others, in order to avoid confusion. I’m hyper-aware of the words I use and how easily they will be understood and sometimes it is a relief to video chat with our family/friends back home and not have to think about what we say!
The other important group, especially as a Stay At Home Mum/Mom, is my ‘mum friends’. I joined a great group called Hike it Baby and often meet up with other mums of young kids to walk in a park or let the kids play at a playpark. I really appreciate this group as they have all been so welcoming and very encouraging to get my kids outside in the fresh air. Many of them have become close friends and I know they are at the end of a phone if I need help/to moan about the kids. This has been particularly true in the last two weeks, which shall forever be etched in my brain as the time I stayed well and had to nurse everyone else in the house through a vomiting/diarrhoea virus… Fun times.
I definitely think we have found ‘our village’ and I couldn’t be more grateful!
To read more about starting to introduce myself to new people and make new friends see Changing Times.
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