Changing states is hard enough, but what happens when a PCS calls you and your family to another country completely? Different customs, cuisine and perhaps a whole new language…
To avoid being overwhelmed with culture shock you can prepare yourself by making important property decisions, acclimating yourself to change and learning as much as you can about the location.
English speakers might surround you, but you may still want to learn the local language. According to the Department of Defense numbers as of 2010, the largest military installments are in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Kuwait. Consider language programs like Rosetta Stone, which has 31 different programs (including the languages of aforementioned countries). Check with your command, Rosetta Stone is often offered for free or at a discounted rate to military.
Kwintessential.co.uk provides proper etiquette and protocol for multiple countries. For instance, if you go to Japan, pay special attention to facial expressions. Frowning is considered disagreeing, while scratching your eyebrow is seen as disrespectful. Do the research so you know what your body language is saying and you can avoid social faux pas.
Simply knowing which side of the road to drive on won’t cut it when you consider foreign driving. An Associated Content article lists must-haves for driving in a foreign place with a U.S. license. Consider:
• Insurance: does yours extend to other countries? You may need proof with an International Motor Insurance Card.
• Driving Regulations: speed limits, cell phone usage, blood alcohol content levels, etc.
If you decide to ship your car, you will need to make sure your vehicle is acceptable. You may need to make modifications on items like lights and mirrors to make it drivable. Also, consider replacement parts for your car. They will most likely need to be shipped, so allot time and have a manual on hand.
According to this Associated Content article, large vehicles are seen as “American” and may not be the most conducive to narrow roads. They may also be the target of damage and theft.
If you decide to purchase abroad, look into the base you’ll be transferring to. You may be able to buy a car from service members returning to the states.
Will you need adapters for electricity? Voltage Vallet provides an index of countries, their electric voltage, and proper adapters to accommodate each. Also, most countries have smaller living arrangements than that of an American home, so be aware of what you pack.
Learn the currency exchange rates and monetary values. If you’re wondering whether or not your bank is available at the installation you’ll be moving to, there is a website that indexes each bank per location. You still may want to consider opening a local account. Paying your bills in a foreign currency can be made easier and cut the costs of funding money transfers.
Photo thanks to lukehoagland via Flickr Creative Commons