originally uploaded by okinawa hai.

CONTRIBUTED BY LUCIA

Although we no longer live in Okinawa, the rhythmic tempo of PCS season remains with me. I remember the thrill and the challenge of arriving on the island….the search for housing, the strange car buying process, the over abundance of concrete architecture, the breathtaking sunsets, the intense heat, and the exhaustion of absorbing so many new sights and sounds. I also remember the summers that followed our arrival. The sudden shift in the population as we said good-bye to friends and greeted new faces. The huge increase in sidewalk treasures…furniture, grills, outdoor toys left on the curb for new owners or to be picked up by the trucks with towering loads. Each summer the island seems to swell and deflate on a daily basis with the arrivals and departures.

And I remember all too clearly our departure last summer. A very bittersweet departure. We were so eager to return to the States. Eager to see family and friends. Eager to have fresh summer produce (peaches, cherries, etc that aren’t frozen and aren’t outrageously priced!). We were sad to leave the island with its beautiful beaches, friendly people, vibrant festivals, and delicious food, but we didn’t realize how intensely we would miss it until we arrived back in the land of strip malls, road rage, and high stress. We suddenly found ourselves experiencing reverse culture shock and craving the island pace of Okinawa.

For those just arriving in Okinawa, welcome to a whole new way of life. I hope you will embrace the island and all that it has to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask for support or directions. Explore, connect, and enjoy. For those about to leave the island, savor your final days and begin to prepare yourself for a return to your home country with a new set of eyes. For those staying on the island during this PCS season, reflect back on your own experience and reach out with a helping hand. Watch out for those new drivers (you know the ones who stray to the right and turn on their windshield wipers when they meant to flip the turn signal). Take a walk in your neighborhood and you might find some new goodies on the curb. And most importantly inhale that island air and enjoy the small things that make Okinawa so special.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this and all of the Newbie blogs. I also feel like my sponsor has been a let down, and just FYI DONT say anything, cause you WILL get someone in trouble. It IS very hard leaving a HUGE house and knowing we are headed for a much smaller one. They took our last shipment yesterday, and our house is still FULL! I am mostly worried about my two kids, they have such great little friends here…but from what I am reading, they will find many more. I am thankful for any and all info posted….you all are great!

  2. Coming to the island May 31st. Husband is in the AF (Ssgt) and I am hoping to meet some people quickly when I arrive. I plan to work (I currently work in Special Education grades k-12) and I am wondering if anyone can explain how to get in touch with the schools there or help me find out where you can see job openings for the 2010 school year? I have a three year old (she will be 4 by the time we get there) and was also looking to see if you ladies have feelings towards the child care center or family child care program. Thanks for any help, words of advice. THIS SITE IS AMAZING, and I am so thankful for everything I have found so far. Thanks again!

  3. Thanks Joelle! I have scoured over those pics, lol! I guess I was trying to see something more specific as to what we would be moving into and the neighborhood we would be moving into. I did not see any photos of the type of house we qualify for. Seems there is a lot of different type of housing available, and it is the luck of the draw as to what we get when we arrive.

  4. I was wondering if anyone can share pics of the housing……we are pcs’ing the beginning of May and my husband is AF, E-7, and works in the medical clinic. Is it true they try to find you a house that is closely located to work?
    We have an awesome sponser, I just have not seen any pictures of exterior and interior of the housing and would like to get an idea of what our possible next home is.
    Thanks!

  5. Hi Ash…

    Thank u so much… I feel a little better now… my email is [email protected]. Thank u so much for taking the time to send the pics… I have so many questions about our pcs to Torii… But thanks again for your help…

  6. Hi Kris,

    I would think most likely you’d be stationed on Kadena or Camp Shields. My husband is in the Army, but he actually works on Kadena, not Torii. It’s about 15+ mins. to get to Torii. Okinawa is very safe in general. Children run around base all the time by themselves. I don’t have kids, myself, but my street is filled with kids (of all ages) visiting each other and playing outside w/o parental supervision. I can’t post any photos on here, but if you post your email, I’ll send you some photos of housing.

  7. Hello!

    First time ever to pcs overseas… I am a nervous wreck cause its all new to me and my family… My husband is an E5 in the army and I was wondering where would we be living since we chose to just live on base and how far will it be to Torii station where he will be working… I hope it isn’t too much to ask but, does anyone have updated pictures of how the base housing looks like… I do know and understand that crime happens everywhere, but how safe is it to live and raise a family on base… Our children are ages 3 and 7… Just wondering… Thank u!

  8. Mary,
    The real work from the sponsor is usually once you arrive. Your sponsor should take you to all of the housing agencies with your requirements and they will show you what is available. Its really not practical for your sponsor to secure housing or even to start looking without you here as the housing availability changes daily. If your sponsor doesn’t help you when you arrive, then I would request another sponsor. You may have to compromise on the commute. But with the expressway and the use of ETC, it may be possible to find your dream home here. Also, we sponsored a young couple and my husband took them to many housing agencies. They really wanted a house but ended up taking a new apartment instead, because it had more of the amenities that they wanted and it was right off the water. There are many newer spacious apartments with new amenities. I would try to keep an open mind about the options. I definitely understand your concern with the move being just 30 days away. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] with any other questions. If you haven’t already, you can read more about the expressway’s ETC here: http://www.okinawahai.com/2009/03/okinawa-expressway.html

  9. Hello!
    Not sure where to start sinceI don’t know if anyone even looks at this “part”..pcsing.. anymore, since no one has made a comment in almost a year on here. But if so, we are moving to Okinawa on May 8th. Actually we leave May 1st and are staying in Hawaii for a week, before coming to Oki. My husband is 0-3 in the AF and works w/ AWACS.
    I am hoping to be able to find the perfect home for our family.. 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, dishwasher and a small yard. We want to live off base, yet close enough that my husband does not have to spend too much time on the drive to work. We have a 2 yr girl and a 15 yr old boy coming with us, but have 4 other children whom will come visit or one that might even come live with us within the year. So that is why we would like the 4th bedroom. I think we are very picky on style and quality, as we have just built our DREAM Home and it is going to be tuff to leave it behind. I feel like if I am leaving behind something so new and loved, I will hold out to find a newer modern home that I am going to love there for 3 or 4 years. I don’t really want to have to move while there, so that also make me want to really wait for something I LOVE. My question here is, am I being unrealistic? The things I want….is it reasonable to think that I will find something newer and with the things stated above, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable amount of rent? It looks like our Housing is going to be 210,000 and the houses that I have seen online that I have had any kind of interest in are more in the 350,000 range… so that is scary. Please help!
    I have to say that our Sponsor… has been a huge disappointment to me. He sent us a Oki phone book and what looked like a few brochures and that is it. He has not offered to help with Housing, post office box, car shopping…Nothing!! With us moving there in 30 days… I am really starting to panic and would really like to just find a new sponsor, but do not want to start trouble for anyone (feel like a tattle tale), before we even get on the island, you know? So any help here or suggestions, would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
    Mary

  10. I loved this post! Our flight leaves to Okinawa on Aug. 6th!!! I’m sooo nervous, anxious and scared at the same time. All the feelings are getting to me and I can only imagine how it’s going to be when we get there.

  11. I forgot to ask about PCS season. Do you think it will be hard to get a house for an E-7 in late March? I think someone said the 2 housing areas would be McT or Courtney.

  12. Hi all, our flight is set for March 27th to leave San Diego on United Airlines. What shpuld I do right now from here? Should I get our sponsor to make us a housing appointment? What about the New comers class when and where is that? Hubby will be stationed on Hansen, what lodging should we get and how do I make the reservation? Should our sponsor do that too? Oh and who maked the reservations for pets we have 2 small dogs (my babies)

  13. Joelle, I didn’t have any problems taking the driving test on Foster and I am Navy(base on Lester). One tip is to take the test before the newcomer class. You will not be able to get your actual license until you finish the newcomers brief but you will miss the crowd. You can get your license while everyone is taking the test! Also, it is a good ideal to get a housing appointment as early as possible but I recommend getting into the first class for the newcomers brief since it is once a week only and then get your license.

  14. Another tip: if you happen to be Navy, you can’t actually take your test with everyone else at the Newcomers class thing — you have to go to the Navy side of Kadena and find a guy who only seems to work a couple hours a day in the office to give you the test. Took us DAYS to get it done (which at the time seemed like an eternity!).

  15. The thing I found great was our sponsor had our housing appointment scheduled for the morning after we landed. We were tired and exausted at this point, but we were able to get in before the rest of the people on our plane came in. The reason he did this was so if there was a list we would be on the top for our flight. Very Very Helful even though there wasn’t a wait and we came in August!! Others we talked to didn’t do anything on that day. Used it as recovery and then went car shopping the next day. Most housing appointments weren’t until after the weekend (to me a house is more important than a car. Especially since you can’t drive for at least a week until after you get here!). And if you are 25 or younger make sure your sponsor signs you up for the Defense Driving Class. It is the day before or after, don’t remember which, the Island Newcommers Class and is on Foster. If you are 25 and younger you can’t get a drivers licsence without it or even take the test to get the liscense. Our sponsor didn’t do this so I had to wait an extra 2 weeks to get into the class (yep, 3 weeks of being taken everywhere and not being able to even go to the store by myself!). Good Luck!

  16. This will be my first PCS and with it being overseas I’m a complete nervous wreck to make sure I get everything done. I would appreciate any advice from all of you out there as to what I should be getting done first when we get there. We will be arriving in June and from my understanding that is the heavy PCS season. I would like to pretty much hit the ground running so to speak to get everything done since there will be dozens of other arriving around the same time (once again this is what i had heard). So please bring on the advice, lists and experiences of what you wish you had known and done when PCS’ing to Okinawa! I want to make sure this is an easy transition for both me, my husband and our two dogs. This website has been a blessing and I appreciate everyones contributions to help those of us coming to the island an idea of what to expect.

  17. I’m sitting here in Okinawa, in my concrete apartment reading your blog and wanting to cry and laugh at the same time because it feels like we have to be the same person with what I’m reading. Great blog. I’ve been only thinking of the day that we’ll get to leave this island, but I think I’m going to work harder at enjoying it now. Thanks.

  18. Thanks for the sweet comments. I really do miss you guys and Okinawa. I know it is hard to believe while you are in Okinawa, but Supertarget gets old really quick and there are no soba shops around here. I am so happy to see this blog going strong. It is just what was needed! Kudos to all of you for creating it.

  19. Lucia, just wanted to say thanks to you. You were one of the first people that I met on island and knowing you was such a positive experience. Attending the playgroup that you started really helped to ease my transition here and I have a great support network because of it. Dylan and Ryan owe all of their little buddies to you too! Your presence here has been sorely missed!

  20. Thanks for sharing this perspective, Lucia. This will be the last PCS season for us to watch the island “swell and deflate” as you so perfectly put! And the picture is priceless. Along with your words, I was shot straight back into the emotional upheaval of our own move here. It’s been a great ride and I know the home stretch will be a whole other roller-coaster!

  21. Lucia,
    loved your post! Its nice to hear that you miss Okinawa even though you are in the land of Supertarget. Actually, reading your piece really made me miss you and Noah. Good to hear from you!

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