For those of you planning a move to Okinawa soon, we hope Marie’s descriptions of the process of their travel and first months of settling in can help you with a few of the “unknowns.” To read more of their story see links at the bottom of the post.
CONTRIBUTED BY MARIE LEWIS
Kenny and I have turned over a new leaf in Okinawa: celebrating our first Christmas and New Year here. We didn’t take any exotic trips or do anything particularly glamorous. In fact, we spent New Year’s Eve playing board games and sipping champagne in our sweatpants with close friends. It was fantastic.
It was fantastic because we had a chance to look back on the year with a deep sense of accomplishment. Last January, I was a bundle of nerves. Would I clear the medical screening hurdles? Would my husband have to move to Japan without me? What if we got here together and I hated it? What if I couldn’t find a job? What if I couldn’t make friends? How would I survive without my family?
If you are on your way here, you may be agonizing over the same worries and fears that consumed me back then. My mother always told me that everything happens for a reason. It may be a tired old cliché, but I still believe it’s true. Once I accepted the fact that certain things were simply out of my control, I could attack my doubts with a clear head. Worrying wasn’t getting me anywhere. Educating myself did.
As Kenny and I checked items off of our ever-changing PCS checklist, I spent my spare time surfing the web to find out all I could about Okinawa. I’ve harped on this before and I’ll do it again. In my research I discovered Okinawa Hai – what I like to call my “online angel.” She inspired me to open my mind, and now she helps me with everything from directions to JCI tips.
I didn’t stop once we got here. I practically camped out at the Personal Services Center on Camp Foster and made it my mission to perfect my resume and snag myself a coveted job. It worked.
There was a pivotal moment, sometime before we arrived here, when I thought, “I’m just going to DO this. I’m going to make it work.” And you know what? Once my attitude changed, everything felt easier. When I helped myself, God helped me even more. It was like making an investment that always gave good returns.
We love it here, and we wanted our families to have a piece of this important place in our lives. We started our Christmas shopping in July – taking advice from others on this site – and we saved ourselves from a lot of stress in December. The job of bubble wrapping and packaging took several hours, and we spread the project out over a few weeks. We mailed everything home on December 1, just before the USPS deadline for standard shipping. Every box reached its destination before Christmas Eve.
We have big plans this year. Plans to travel to other countries, plans to save for a house, plans to host more relatives who visit. We want to uncover more treasures on this island. We look no further than this blog every time we’re seeking to explore a new corner of Okinawa.
My mind is a world away from where it was last January – literally and figuratively. This year, I have no qualms about what’s coming. I am in cruise mode. That’s not to say I’ve lost my resolve to improve in 2013. Sure, I’d like to try yoga on the beach and eat a few (okay, a lot) less cookies this year. But I have no heart-stopping questions lingering. And if the military (or anyone else, for that matter) throws us another curve ball, I feel more prepared to take a swing.
More and more, I feel our “island newbie” status slipping away. I know the shortcuts home from work now and I don’t think twice about driving on the left side of the road. It’s time to take our training wheels off. Or maybe they already came off on their own – sort of like a young Forrest Gump running in slow motion until he’s completely uninhibited by the braces on his legs. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. But you get the idea.
I sincerely doubt my Newlywed PCS posts moved you to tears the way Tom Hanks did in that epic movie. However, if I saved some of you a little time here or a little worry there, I’m happy. This will be my last Newlywed PCS post. I’ll be sure to write about new things to do here as I stumble upon them, but they will stand alone outside this series. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful 2013!
Read all the posts in this series: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
We are arriving in April of this year– and your posts (all 14 of them!) have been WONDERFUL and LIFE SAVING! I have used your blog as a constant reference!!! Thank you so much– I do hope you continue writing for Okinawa Hai… I look forward to reading about your expeditions and travels now that you are a ” old pro”!
Thank you again!
Actually, at least a few of your posts did bring me to tears. We PCS’ed here in October, and your posts were helpful with one thing my endless PCS checklists could not help me with: my peace of mind. Glad you’re still making the most of this beautiful place, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future!
I am where you are last January. We are pcsing from Camp Lejeune and I am on overload. I am so glad to hear it gets better and easier. Thanks for the blogs…I feel like a blog stalker, ha ha. Any advice? We will be traveling with a six year old and a one year old? How long were you in TLF?
Cheryl – Props to you for keeping the ball rolling while juggling two young children! I’m afraid I can’t offer any first-hand knowledge of traveling with kids, but we were only in TLF for two weeks. We had our house picked out about a week after arriving but had to stay in TLF a few more days before our move-in date.
You will want to register your six year old for school once you arrive. (You can’t register online, it has to be done in person.) I’m pasting below a link to all of the registration forms you’ll need to fill out. There’s a checklist as well to help you out. http://www.okinawa.pac.dodea.edu/regforms/
I will certainty miss “experiencing” all the wonders of moving to a foreign country! Your writing style always made me feel like I was there sharing in your adventures.
This is such a beautiful send-off message on your newlywed series. It made me cry. I have enjoyed reading them so much and will continue to go back over and over to relive the moments you so wonderfully described. But I am so excited to read what comes next as well as be a part of that experience!!! As always, you are such a beautiful writer!!!