by: Nicole Robb

People always ask me, “How is life in Australia different from America?”

I always answer, “ I live the Military life in America, VERY different to my life in Australia and probably very different to the non-military life in America.”

Prior to leaving Australia I was a 6th grade teacher, also running a family owned business. I had lived in 2 houses, went to the same primary school & high school throughout my whole education. My parents lived 20 minutes away and my sister about the same. I had never been alone, always had friends & family close by and always have had someone to share birthdays and holidays with.

I can’t even compare my life back in Australia to my life here in America. My husband is coming up on 17 years of service with the Navy and nearly 14 of those years we have shared together. We have 2 children (11) and (9). I have had 9 different addresses since moving to the United States. I’ve lived months on end in hotels during PCS moves waiting for a house to move into.

Many times I have moved alone, with only my kids in tow, no spouse, family or friends. Every few years I am out and about building new friendships and finding play friends for my kiddos.

Since living in the States, I have worked 8 different jobs and opened and closed my own business. I haven’t gone back into teaching. With each state requiring its own credentials, resulting in test taking and more money being forked over, it wasn’t worth it. Especially with knowing there was never a guarantee of work & another PCS move was around the corner. I came to the conclusion I would probably get back into teaching when the kids were older, or in typical military spouse fashion maybe I’ll find a completely different career!

For someone who grew up in one house and has always been very much a homebody, I would say to all my Aussie friends, I have changed A LOT. We’ve been very fortunate to have had great experiences with the Navy at all our duty stations, and have liked where we have lived. As much as I hate packing and unpacking, and the sadness my kids experience, saying goodbye to friends and schools, I do get excited with every move.

If it wasn’t for the Navy…

I would not have SO many life long friends from all around the world I can visit!

I would NEVER have had the opportunity to live in Hawaii!

I never would have travelled to Germany with my kids for FREE to visit family and friends!

We may well not have the job security we have!

We probably wouldn’t have driven cross country and experienced & seen so many different places!

My spouse would not have been paid to attend college & have tuition paid for, leaving us with NO student debt!

My kids wouldn’t be able to attend College with financial assistance from the GI Bill, giving us financial assistance for their future!

My family wouldn’t be able to participate in so many FREE and fun activities in the community!

We wouldn’t have been able to buy a home using the VA loan & get a head start without having a deposit!

I may not have become the independent and strong woman I am today who can achieve so much all alone!

Don’t get me wrong there are also a few negatives to go with …. “IF it wasn’t for the Navy….” Life could be a lot simpler, but the pros definitely out way the cons from my experience living the Navy life.

Yes my life is very different from the life I left behind in Australia, but I wouldn’t change it. A few more years and retirement is on the cards. Will I stay here and live the normal American life or go back to a life in Oz, which I do miss so much. Like I always say to family and friends, there’s plan A & plan B- and then there’s the Navy’s plan! Who knows!