Military life involves moving…so much moving. Perhaps you are leaving your town for the first time, or you’re a seasoned spouse who can easily hop duty stations every few years. No matter the case, there are days you’ll feel homesick.
Home could be your hometown, your college town, or even a previous duty station. This place is special because you identified and connected with it, and made memories with dear friends and family. In this place, you felt like YOU.
I am the type of girl who puts down roots and lived in my hometown from birth to age 23. As a military wife, the idea of living in different towns and countries every few years is challenging to say the least. As they say, home is where the military sends you…but I know where my true home is.
Feeling homesick? Here are ways to lessen the distance:
Display reminders. If you walk in my house, you’ll see photos of family, a fridge covered in magnets from European travels, German beer steins and sports paraphernalia from Florida State University. Visuals help me feel more connected to faraway places I hold dear.
Request local favorites. Ask family or friends to send you a care package of local items or foods that can only be found back home. A special coffee mug, shirt or taste of that familiar place can quickly bring you back.
Remember your people. Maintain connections with those from home through messaging, phone calls, emails or video chats. Use technology to your advantage and actively stay in touch because that accent from home can be music to your ears.
Follow social media. By doing little things like adding your hometown to your weather app, and following groups from your high school, hometown news sources and sports via social media, you can keep a pulse on what those from home are experiencing. I was amused when it was colder for my family in Florida than it was for me in Germany.
Find an outlet. Sometimes you’ll just be sad. No amount of memorabilia will do the trick, and that’s when you just cry over a bowl of ice cream. Chances are you have a friend experiencing this as well and the two of you can commiserate over wine or coffee. If you need more productive outlets, take a walk, create a home photo album, or get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
Visit. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but if it is important to you, make it happen. Begin with: 1) Budgeting and saving. For great ideas on picking up extra cash, start here; 2) Asking family to help bring you home (perfect if they want to know what to gift you for birthdays or holidays); 3) Signing up for travel alerts for airfare to your hometown; 4) Utilizing Space A. If getting home is too difficult due to work, finances, school schedules, etc., ask friends and family to come to you.
Home sweet home will always be in your heart. These strategies can help you stay more connected when the military takes you around the world. Cherish your past, but make sure to also savor your present. Do what you can to feel at home in your current duty station. Perhaps one day you’ll look back on it and feel slightly homesick for what you have now.
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops chronicles her experiences in Europe through American eyes. Born in Florida and stationed in Germany, the mother of two enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Currently she is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and a recurring on-air guest with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen traversing Europe with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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