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Growing Up as a Military Brat

How My Experiences Benefited Me in College

I grew up as an Air Force brat, my father was a fighter pilot and my mother dedicated her life to taking care of the children.  Both of their sacrifices have led me to the place I am now. While I was not always thankful of that, I have learned to see that their sacrifices set me up for success. 

I used to hate the fact that my father was in the military.  We moved every one or two years.  I went to three high schools and graduated from a less-than-ideal school that I had only attended for my senior year.  I wish I had been more appreciative and excited about the things and places I was able to experience while I was there, rather than realize my good fortune too late.  I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.  

We lived overseas twice, once in England and the second time in Japan.  Of course, when you live in Europe, it's easy to travel to other countries, and we often did, but I was in middle school and hardly cared for the cultures and people that I met.  When we went on a 10 day trip to Italy, the only thing I seemed to care about was the huge helpings of gelato we got everyday. 

In Japan, I was a freshman and sophomore in high school, and everything had to be about me.  I had an attitude and hardly wanted to go out and experience the unique culture that I had the fortune to be submerged in. Now, all I want to do is go back there and appreciate the culture of the country and learn about their way of life.

Now that I'm in college, I wish I hadn't been such a self-involved teenager. I wish I had gone out more and had a better attitude towards the opportunities that I had.  When I got here, it was one of the first times that I was not surrounded by other military brats who could at least somewhat understand the things I had gone through.  Most of the people I go to school with have lived in one place their entire lives and few have left the country.  And those who have traveled, haven't been nearly as immersed in the culture as I was.  I realized that I was unique in this setting, and that I had a slight advantage over my peers.

Since I traveled so much as a child, I have developed the ability to adapt to new environment easily, so when I came to a school that was far away from my family, I was able to adapt and succeed quicker than some of my peers.  I feel comfortable in unknown places since I know I will find some way to make the place my home.  

Also, having lived in a country that does not speak the same language as me, I have a strong ability to communicate despite language barriers, which paid off well for me when meeting with professors and finding opportunities for research.  Additionally, since I've seen more of the world than most my age, I understand more aspects of certain cultures and people which has helped me develop a sense of respect for all.  

No one ever said that it's easy to be a military brat, but if you're in a similar situation as I was, know that it gets better and that you will come to love the experiences you have had and find that the skills you are developing right now will pay off.  Embrace the future, even if it's scary.

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