Adjusting to College — Military Brats

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From left to right: Omer, Cody, Nancy, Melissa, Samantha, Kinza, Benedikt (me)

I’ve been in college for two years now. I’m finally on my own and have been able to spend my time, energy, and the limited amount of money I have however I choose! This has led to a surprising amount of magical and constructive moments. However, the one experience that surprised me the most, and continues to surprise me, was how long it took to adjust to college — in fact, I’m still not fully accustomed to it. Getting to know and becoming close friends with the other students as a military brat was harder than expected. Traditionally, military brats are infamous for being too good at adjusting from one PCS to another. How come my college transition isn’t going as smoothly? If this school was going to be my home for four years, it shouldn’t take two to get settled.

Last October, Corvias provided the opportunity for 4 other Corvias scholars and me to attend Lead365, a leadership conference in beautiful Orlando! Although we had never met before, the other scholars and I experienced an immediate sense of friendship and the familiar military brat camaraderie that could’ve only been noticed if you’ve been without it for some time. We compared where we’ve been stationed, seeing if we were close to running into each other at some point in our lives and finding seemingly random mutual friends from our pasts. As the conference progressed, the scholars provided an open-environment for emotional conversation and the refreshing feeling of being at home. Although it wasn’t intentional, the most valuable lesson I learned in Orlando was how important it is to be surrounded by students who understand and can relate to your upbringing, and ultimately, your identity.

Since Lead365 I haven’t found many military brats at school, although, I recognize that the close friends I do have are almost identical to one. They grew up going to 5+ schools; they know what it’s like to be the new person in a group. They know how to make the best of a situation, even if that’s not where they want to be. They know that distance isn’t a reason to grow apart from someone, rather, it’s more of a motive to keep in touch. They know that their home is not where they are, but who they’re with. Their friendship has made the world of a difference to my college experience. It has positively influenced my decisions and comfort and I’m indebted to them for making my school, my home.

I say this because most of the schools attended by current scholars, alumni, and military brats have fewer military students than the high schools and/or neighborhoods with which we’re familiar. That means you’ll be part of the 5% instead of the 75%. It means more people will be curious about what USAA is or why you have a separate ID exclusive to the armed forces. It means it might be hard to adjust even though you’re so good at adjusting, because in the real world only 1% of the United States’ population are immediate relatives to the military. If you find yourself in a similar position that I was in, don’t be afraid to reach out to other military brats, international students, nomads, and their families — both at your school and through Corvias. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll become acquainted, and how easy it is for a friendship to blossom. Always remember, home is not where you are but who you’re surrounded with.