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How Being A Military Child Helped Me During My Study Abroad

This article was sent to us by Taylor B., a college sophomore stationed in Texas. Do you have a story to share with your fellow military teens? Visit our writing page to find out how you can submit to Bloom!

I’ve had the opportunity to study abroad twice in my college career. In the summer of 2022, I studied German at the Goethe Institute in Dresden, Germany, and in 2023 I studied travel writing in Maastricht, Netherlands. Each program provided its own advantages as well as disadvantages, but that is to be expected. What was most surprising, however, was seeing the differences in how I handled some aspects of studying abroad compared to my peers.

After some reflection, I realized that the main difference in how my peers have approached certain challenges was our upbringings. As a military child, I am more comfortable with change and transition, so while my friends were stressed about leaving the country, I was stressed about the classes. I came to understand that there are four things that were significantly less difficult than I anticipated.

Handling the Transition and Culture Shock

Since I am so accustomed to moving, the actual transition was far less difficult than I had thought it would be. It wasn't seamless by any means, but I was able to recover quickly and jump into the program full force. I wanted to make the most of my time there: be fully immersed in the culture, planning trips, and getting to know my peers.

Making Connections with My Peers

I was able to be more open and honest with my peers in the program, becoming close friends and traveling every weekend. We ate dinner with one another and helped each other with homework. I made an effort to befriend everyone and I have kept up with those friendships that were created on each of my study abroad trips. I found this came easily since I spent my whole life connecting with strangers every time I moved to a new place. Being able to make quick and meaningful connections is something that military life has given me.

Openness to Travel and Spontaneity

While my newfound friends and I would brainstorm where we would want to travel that weekend, I found that we separated into two groups: those who wanted a heavily structured plan and those who just wanted a plane ticket. I was in the latter group. I found myself to be more spontaneous and open to new experiences than some of my peers. My family definitely instilled that in me. Since we would move so much, my parents made an effort to travel between PCS’s and on school breaks.

Maintaining Connections at Home

Something I was proud of was my ability to maintain my relationships at home. Just because you’re abroad doesn't mean that life back at home stops. Remembering that your family and friends would rather hear your stories from you and not through your social media is important. Moving helped me with this because I had spent years apart from some of my best friends and had to keep in contact with them if I wanted that friendship to remain strong.

All of these things helped me have the best time I could on both of my study-abroad trips. I was able to transition into a different culture and make quick connections with my fellow students. I was more open to traveling and as a result, had many stories that I was able to share with my friends and family at home. Being a military child helped me in positive ways that I hadn’t expected.


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