My name is Nikola and I am a military wife. Together with my husband and our big fur baby, we're stationing in Kansas, trying to explore this new world every time we can and living our best lives here. I came here all the way from Poland for my husband, starting some aspects of my life from total scratch, in a totally different world that I thought, I was familiar with. From the Military..
“You never really know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” – unknown
I thought, leaving the job that I loved and moving overseas, far away from my family and friends was the toughest part of that military life. I had a really hard time going through this but in my head, I thought “you’ll go through this… everything will be fine, you’ll start a new life from the beginning…’’
Well, during this whole time of being a military spouse it took more than I thought, just to adjust to living in a whole different place in the world or trying to find a new job that I’d love. There were also things that nobody had told me about, and I had to go through them by myself and learn;
it’s easier to adjust to the new place and being able to start looking for a new job, getting into school or just getting around as a non-foreign person. Since I’m foreign spouse it takes more time to do any of those, and with this comes more frustration. The green card process takes so much time and can be like pain in the butt, but that’s what I have to go through just to function like a citizen in here.
Keep yourself busy. That’s what I heard from pretty much everyone when I got here, and it’s true. I wasn’t realizing that at the beginning. I always waited for my husband to get back from work and spend time with me. Days were passing by, and I waited, wasting all of this time for waiting, instead of developing some new skills, finding a hobby. Now, working on myself it’s best that I can do.
Moving every few years. It can be frustrating for many reasons. You made some great friendship and settled in, found a great job, your favorite local restaurant or spot that you love spend time at. You finally can say, “ I feel like at home”. But then it’s time to move again, and again…
Passion as your mobile career?! It’s a great thing to do what you love and being able to do that from anywhere, is a wonderful opportunity. You don’t have to be afraid where you gonna be working next or if the position that you’re interested into will be available, or if they’ll even want to hire you because they know you’ll be moving again.
You have to learn to make new friendships and realize it can be temporary… Not every friendship can last forever. People will always come to your life and leave. Some of them will just want to stay in your life and keep in touch even from far away, while some might just cut off and forget.
Saying bye over, and over. It can become a really hard thing to do, when knowing how lonely your days will become during those monthly training or deployments, without your soldier.
If you like to plan, GOOD LUCK… Everything is changing constantly, so there’s no point for a long term planning.
Living far away from your family isn’t easy as well. I see spouses saying, they’re missing their family that lives in a different state. It is some distance between them but it’s way easier to take a couple hours flight or spend a few hours of driving to see them, rather taking a 12 hour or longer flight to Europe, that can cost even thousands of dollars sometimes. I always remind them, they’re luckier.
FaceTime and WhatsApp are my best friends those days. I can Video-Chat with my family few times a week, and stay in touch with my Polish friends. It makes me feel closer to them and helps me to stay updated about what’s going on over there, even while being far away from each other.
Military life isn’t always about the unicorns and the rainbows and being a military spouse might not be the easiest thing. It’s good to know what we’re getting into and what to be prepared for.
It totally took me a while (like a really long while…) to finally write something in here. All this time I felt like it has to be something huge, that everyone would be excited to read about it and get back to my blog for more amazing adventures of an Army Wife. I felt like I need to get ready for it, have a plan and be prepared for writing all those perfect stories and other topics. But I also felt like such a boring person. Because what could I possibly write about, right?! How my day is the same over and over? How bad my writing skills are or how my knowledge of English sucks? I had all those struggles in my head, while the time was passing by and I haven’t even written a word, I haven’t even prepared to write…
Since the young age, I’ve stopped preparing myself for the classes at school. Everyone would say I was lazy, but the truth is I seriously didn’t see the point of doing it. I believed, it’s important in life to be prepared but I had all those plans and thoughts going on in my head which were making me focused only on them and the school didn’t have anything in common. Of course, there were a few exemptions that I liked at schools, like PE and art but that was totally it. I enjoyed being competitive while playing sports or being creative while making some painting, but competing with the grades?! Nah, thanks… But well, nobody did care back then about that, everyone was saying I won’t make any money from playing a volleyball or painting stupid portraits, so I totally gave up on everything good that my childhood was giving me back then and waited until the day I turn 18, so I could finally live my life as I want and not have to make anyone happy beside myself. And when that day finally came, it was actually my life changer, I could finally take an action on my dreams and make them come true. Well, looking at that time lapse when I became an adult and now I’m pretty proud of my actions and what I did. Of course, there was few ups and downs between but I guess that’s what needed to happen, so I could be happy the way I wanted. It was such a hard work but in the end, it was all I dreamed of my whole life.
Today and for the past few months, maybe even a year I had the same problem as the young age, I was missing an action in my life that would lead me for the goals I wanted to achieve. Until today I was so stuck with the past, and what happened back then. Everyone might ask why is it then? You’re not a kid anymore, still young, living in the US as you dreamed of, and also you’re married. It should be like a dream come true, right?! Yes, that’s true. I’m an adult, I’m still young, I’m living in the US and yes, I’m married. Being married is one thing but being married to someone in the military is a little bit tougher than a normal marriage. I’m married to a great man that I love but it’s hard when it comes to making any bigger plans or moves together. It’s not us deciding where we gonna live for the next few years, it’s not us planning an amazing weekend at some point because my soldier is on call and whenever that call comes up, he’s gotta be there. Plus extra few months of staying far away from each other, while some field training or deployment comes up, and trust me… It doesn’t make it easier… In this life, you have to be well organized and prepared for so many new and different things. I guess I was missing this preparation. The preparation for becoming an army wife. But how can you prepare for unexpected?! I believe it takes time…I can’t be mad about that, I’ve chosen the man who I love, not the Army, and just because those two are connected I can’t help it. For a while, I’ve been feeling like I can’t do anything and none of my plans can happen. I’ve been hanging between anxiety and depression. I guess it was only in my head because I’ve created all of those problems inside while there were some options of overcoming them. I feel like I’ve stopped looking for the way around that barrier of the problems, to take actions for my happiness to be back and do something in my life. There are still some other barriers for me as a foreign military spouse to go through, but I feel like I finally completed the first step and found the way to go around and start something new. Now, I only gotta get my shit together and move on to the next level. I’m not gonna prepare so much, I’ll just take a small step through it and hopefully I’ll get better day by day.
I remember how much happy I was when we’ve started dating with Eric. It was such a wonderful time while we enjoyed every moment together, and felt like didn’t have to care about tomorrow. Days and months have been passing and unfortunately, after quite some time of that bucolic tale the orders came up and it was the time when we had to make our big decision. What with us ?!
Somewhere inside, I was realizing that if we decide to be together, it would only mean that one of us will have to give up everything, just to be with another one. I knew it would be me. Within days I’ve heard those words that almost every woman wants to hear in her life; ” Will you marry me?”. Actually, there were few extra words in this situation because if I was about to marry Eric, it was obvious that I’d have to give up everything, and start from the scratch in a totally different place in the world. Back then, I actually didn’t care about all of that. I didn’t even think about it for a second before I said yes, like none of those had any meaning in my life. From that moment, all I was thinking about was packing my luggage, hopping into the plane, and starting a new life with my now husband.
It might be different for everyone, but that’s the usual scenario if you’ve met your foreign spouse in a place where you live, your own country. There will be always that time when they’ll have to leave, and both of you will be left with that important decision, what’s next? For some, it’s too much to give up their actual life and themselves, just for another person, and they decide to end it. While some, don’t care about their actual situation no matter how good or bad it is, they just pack their stuff and move across the country/ world because they want to spend rest of their days with love of their life. I guess I was that 2nd type…
I wasn’t even 21 while making this important decision. I loved my job, but I knew it wouldn’t be something, I would do for life. I haven’t established anything that would keep me in Poland for good, and I loved Eric. Those were mostly, the reasons for my decision. I’ve decided to follow my man.
By focusing on the person we love, our relationship. Hoping that our life will be only better, from now forward, we might not realize how tough life can be on this other side of the world. Even with the other half next to, we can’t pretend like it’s something that we know, or something usual because the truth is, that it’s not…
In this post, you’ll find a few things that foreign military spouse might find surprising or disappointing while moving to the US with their spouse;
GREEN CARD PROCESS
Since we’ve come from different countries, that quite often means we have more restrictions as a non-citizens. It’s not like, after marrying our soldier we’re Americans now and we have all the rights as locals… Our first step after saying ”yes” to our spouse is applying for the green card. It’s a long and expensive process, that we might find out painful in some aspects, but that’s the only way to live together with our spouse in the US and function as a normal citizen. The processing time is different for each state and can take from 6-12 months. In my situation, I’ve been told it might take even 24 months…
Honestly, I wasn’t realizing how independent I was until I’ve decided to marry Eric and move with him to the States. Before that, I had the job that I loved, a nice place I lived at, my family and friends that were always nearby. I could afford the things that I wanted because I was making enough money and that was my money, nobody else’s. Right now, while the process is pending I have none of those. It’s funny how as military spouses we have to be independent but coming from a totally different country, at the beginning we’re in 100% depending on our spouse.
We can’t go to work until at least, we get the work permit. That means we’re not able to bring any extra income home. We can’t let ourselves get stuff that we’ve been used to getting, no matter how big or small they are. Also, not being able to support the House budget is a minus. We depend on everything that our spouse brings home. Well, some people don’t mind spending other’s money, but I always feel bad, even if my husband says it’s okay if I buy sth extra… I really had a hard time going from an independent person, to someone who’s depending on someone else’s in a big part.
We might have no US drivers license, so we always have to ask if someone else, or our spouse can drop us off, or use the UBER to get around. I always feel like it makes harder to make new friends because of that. They might want to grab a coffee, or lunch and you’d have to be flexible with getting there and have some extra money in your pocket, just in case of getting anything. I’m lucky to still have my drivers license from when I lived in California as an Au pair, it helps me a lot with getting around, but I realize that not every foreign spouse has it from the beggining.
With moving to the other part of the world, I did realize that I’m about to say goodbye to each of them for a while. I’ve been always so close to my family and have wonderful friends that I’ve known for years now. I didn’t know I’ll have such a hard time making new friends. Knowing, it will be just temporary makes me so upset because I don’t like the short term friendships. I’m more used to those long term ones. WhatsApp and Messenger, those apps became my best friends with contacting with all of them, but there’s always this sad side when you can’t be next to. The biggest minus in this whole immigration thing is that we can’t cross the borders of the US, that could cause the trouble for going back, and at the same time makes a really long wait to see the family. The other things are the flight prices, those aren’t always the lowest. I hear sometimes spouses complaining about having a family in the nearby state, and I’m just thinking wow, it’s just a few hours drive, and it does not cost thousands of dollars. It’s really not bad… All of those things makes it tougher, if we’re so close with our families and friends from the countries we come from.
Every culture is different, and there’s no exemption. We might find it out surprising when it comes to so many aspects. Something that might seem normal in our culture, could be different in any other country. Or the way we say things. Some might find it out offensive, or we just might be understood wrong? It happened to me a few times. But there’s no shame in not understanding. We get used to and learn with time but this is a big change for us.
My biggest surprise, after I’ve traveled to the States for the first time was how open Americans can be. I felt weird, hearing all of those “Hi, How are you?!” on the streets and those short conversations with the people I’ve never met before, but it was kind of nice as well. In my home country, you could forget about it, nobody would ask you that, or even smile to you on the street. If someone has spotted you looking, or smiling to them, you’d probably get angry “what are you looking at?!”.
We might have a degree from our country and be well educated, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to get a job in the field we’ve graduated from. We have to realize that the other country might have different requirements, and it might happen that our degree will be worth nothing. All those years of hard studying can be a waste. We’ll have to start our education from the beginning, or decide to do something different in life. Something that we wouldn’t even like to do.
This whole change might feel like the craziness and all this immigration thing can make it more painful for a while. It’ll be gone with time, but some other aspects might be hard to accept, for the rest of life. We have to adjust to the whole different country and its culture, something different that we’ve been raised with. Some people might find it awesome, but there are still people that will call it stupid because of what we have to go through. It’s like with the Army thing, we didn’t choose it! We chose our spouse.
As we all know, the rotations or deployments aren’t about only one place and one country… They’re about many unknown places and countries that we can’t even think of.
Before my husband was deployed to Europe, he knew that he’ll be sent to Romania for a quite while. And since I had that opportunity, I’ve decided that I’m gonna take a trip to Romania, just to visit him. I really wanted to explore this country and see how it is for real, and of course, take an advantage of being able to see Eric.
Romania, it’s the southeastern European country with not such good opinion in the remaining countries of central, and western Europe. Known mostly from gypsies and poorness, which might feel like this place isn’t worth to visit. But for rest of the world, mostly known from the forested region of Transylvania and Dracula Legend.
I didn’t mind exploring that new world by myself, but my family knowing only bad opinions about this country, did only aware me before traveling there.
Beside the location where my husband was stationed, I didn’t know completely anything. I had no idea how am I gonna get there, where am I gonna be staying at and what I’m going to do there. I couldn’t find any trip advice in the internet about traveling there, so I had to do it all by myself.
I’ve started with the flight tickets. Thank god, Europe has them cheap flight connections, and for only 40$ I could fly from Berlin to Bucharest ( the capital of Romania). That’s a money and life saver! My exact destination in Romania was Constanta, a city based right by the black sea, about 200 kilometers away from Bucharest. That was another thing to figure out… How to get there next?! I had 2 options. Taking the train from Bucharest or renting a car. I always thought that car rental is very expensive, but after I’ve done my research, I’ve realized that it’s really cheap to rent a car, especially in Romania. Here is the rental place that I can honestly recommend while staying there. Low daily prices, numerous cars to choose from and good contact with the company. That’s what you should look for while your car rental research. About the trains; there were a few connections to Constanta during the day, tickets not expensive at all, but I realized that my husband is staying out of the city and I’d have to use everytime taxi, just to get to him. That was the biggest minus of it, so I’ve decided to rent a car. But if you staying only in downtown or somewhere around, it’s a good option to take the train.
Once I’ve landed and started my trip to Constanta, driving through the suburbs of Bucharest, I was shocked… Development of Romanians infrastructure was so poor, comparing to the other European countries. Many unfinished buildings left for itself by the roads. People pasturing their cows right by the highway and carriages on the speedways. That was crazy! You could see that many years ago in Poland and other countries, but I guess it’s still happening in eastern Europe.
After 2 hours on the way, I finally reached my destination, Constanta. I didn’t have to worry about the place to stay because my husband decided to book something for me, and just because I still had some time to check in, I’ve decided to grab something to eat. I had totally no idea what people are eating there and what could be good, so I just thought of some low budget standard that I could get everywhere, and chose Mc’Donalds. The menu was so different from what you can get in US, Poland or Germany. Actually, it’s pretty cool that Mc’Donalds in each country is different, you can see how they adjusting to the local ”taste”.
All the beds are hand made for this hotel !
Once I was done with my food, I could finally check in at my place. Based in the downtown, well-renewed townhouse, that’s where I was heading to. I really didn’t know what to expect, because I didn’t even book it or seen it’s pictures, but once I found myself inside I was so impressed by how beautiful this place was. This small hotel was French themed, with beautiful details in each room. I was so in love with that place, so I didn’t even get out until the next day! The place is called Belle Epoque Boutique Villa.
The picture can’t express how beautiful this view was
My second day seemed to be so great. My plan for the day was just some sightseeing, little shopping and after all, finally meeting my husband! With all that happiness I headed early morning to the rooftop of the hotel where my breakfast was ready for me. I really don’t know what was more surprising… The beautiful view of the black sea and Constanta, or that stunning breakfast which was made only for me. Sipping my fresh made orange juice and having caviar, while enjoying that sea view at the same time. In this particular moment, I could feel so luxurious for the first time in my life! I felt also so blessed and thankful.
This was the nicest part of Constanta
Right after breakfast ( which I couldn’t forget for a really long while), I headed straight down through the old town, to the seashore. While this walk I was passing so many restaurants, pubs, and hotels which were just renewed and looked really nice, full of people enjoying their winter holidays. I did also pass so many empty, old and abandoned buildings with some history, and amazing architecture that should definitely be restored. With each building I was passing, I could hear waves of the sea so well…
An old, destroyed casino based on the boardwalk is the biggest monument of the city.
After I made it to the boardwalk, I felt some kind of freedom and joy. The music that was played by the old man on his violin was so enjoyable. It wasn’t like anything I did hear before. The water was so clear and when I focused my sight, I could spot the jellyfishes. The air was so clear and the sky was so bright. While picking up the shelves I just thought, that even if it’s a poor country and has many bad opinions, I like it at some point. It was something very different, something that I really enjoyed when being there.
As a typical woman I couldn’t get out with nothing… I bought traditional Romanian shirt.
While still having some time to visiting Eric, I headed to the closest mall just to warm up and explore the Romanians mall. The only difference I’ve spotted was the amount of the products that you could choose from. In the US or western Europe, stores are usually filled up with the assortment, while in Romania there was only chosen products. Prices were pretty much same as in Poland, which means very affordable.
The evening finally came, and I could see my husband. Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky and couldn’t go anywhere besides the parking lot on the base. Cuddling and talking, that’s how we spent that night, but even tho, we enjoyed every minute of it.
My third and the last day went so quick. I had to pack up and say bye to Constanta and my husband. With the smile on my face, I was heading to the Bucharest from where I was flying back to Poland. I was so happy that I’ve decided to go there!
Deployments suck, and we were so lucky that I could come and visit my soldier in Romania back then. I believe that every wife would do the same thing for their husband if only they could. Just like I did.