Returning Stateside: Feeling at Home Takes Time

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A move across the ocean can be difficult whether a military family is moving to another country or returning to the United States after living overseas

Experienced military spouses offer their insights into the readjustment process:

  • Life tends to be more family oriented at overseas assignments, and it’s a tightness you don’t have in the States. I loved the fact that the (overseas) community is very close-knit, and now I miss that.
  • Coming home is harder than we expected. Suddenly home doesn’t feel like home. It’s almost shocking to be back in America where everyone speaks your language. In public, we sometimes feel a loss of privacy, because everyone can understand our English conversations.
  • Even the vocabulary is different. Back in the States, people don’t use words like “Stateside” or “downrange” much. They usually say “here” or “deployed.”
  • We missed American restaurants like Chick Fil-A when we were overseas, but what I wouldn’t do for a jagerschnitzel or a doner right now!
  • The first time we went to an American restaurant, we were distracted by how many times the waitress came by our table to ask how we were doing.
  • When we lived in Japan, I adjusted pretty easily to driving on the “wrong” side. Now that I’m back, I keep getting into the passenger seat of my car and wondering where the steering wheel went.
  • We didn’t recognize the slower, more relaxed pace of life in Germany until we returned to the frenetic pace of life back in the U.S.
  • At first when you move overseas, you are frustrated by having fewer choices, as in doing most of your shopping at the Exchange or commissary. You learn to live comfortably within those options, and when you come back, it seems there are too many choices.

Families who have been there (and back) agree that the culture shock of returning to the United States is very much like the culture shock of moving overseas. Any adjustment takes time. Knowing this up front helps a family set reasonable expectations. Some challenges are major, others are minor, but all can be overcome with some preparation and patience.

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