A few weeks from now will mark our six-month anniversary of living in Italy. Six months! It feels like I just announced we were coming out here yesterday, but that was actually a year ago. Before we arrived I did a lot of research about PCSing (it was all brand new to me), the base, our new area, living overseas, how-to this and how-to-do that, and everything in between. I was engulfed with information and felt like I had a pretty good grasp on what we’d encounter once we arrived.
But there was one piece of advice I kept coming across that I contentiously brushed off. Several bloggers, people I met in real life, and different articles all said something similar: take your time once you get there, because it’ll take a good six months before you really feel settled after a military PCS.
Originally, I scoffed at that statement. Six months seems like a pretty long time to get your bearings. Not to mention, traveling internationally, living in another country, and moving aren't really new aspects for me and I pride myself on adapting to new situations quickly. Six months before I feel like I belong here? No way, Jose; I’ll feel settled in three months tops. Challenge accepted.
Unfortunately, I can safely admit that I lost my own challenge. Three months ago I was nowhere near feeling “settled.” There were still moving boxes taking residence in an entire room, our walls were completely barren, and I had yet to join any of the organizations I said I would when we first arrived. Not to mention, I avoided going into a few places because I didn’t think I knew enough of the language and didn’t want to get laughed out of this country. I was—and to be honest I still am—in that weird stage where I’m testing the water and finding other women I’m compatible with out here; I’m essentially speed dating to make friends. The weird thing is that I don’t remember it ever taking this long to make some place feel like home before, but maybe that's because I was younger and more carefree back then.
So here I am, almost six months into this move and I finally feel more comfortable here. The boxes long gone, there are photos on the wall, I’ve joined a few groups on base, and I’ve found a new favorite café right next door to my house. As for friends, well, I’m finally moving past the awkward first dates and, to take a cue from Grey’s Anatomy, I’m starting to find my people.
How long does it take you to feel settled in a new location?