Submitted by Patricia M. Sanchez
When I was 15 years old, during the summer, my mother came to me and told me that she reenlisted in the army and that she was getting transferred to Germany. She told me that we would be living on a military base and that we would be moving after her, in January and that she would be leaving in September to get things ready for myself, my sister and her husband.
Being a child of someone in the military, I was used to moving a lot, but moving overseas was something new, but I didn’t realize everything that we had to have in order. I was doing a summer program at the time, so I wasn’t paying attention to everything my mother had to do in order to re enlist in the military.
Right before my mother left and at the beginning of my sophomore year in high school my mother decided to do my birthday party a week before she left, so that she wouldn’t miss it. The week after my party we drove my mother to the airport and said a short goodbye.
At home, I began working to save some money and began making preparations for leaving. I know that the first thing we had to do is get our passport pictures done. The passport takes 6-9 weeks in order to receive so we needed those done as soon as possible. We found out that we were only allowed to bring two dogs with us overseas, so not only did our dogs have to get extensive checks, we had to re-home one of our dogs. For us that was really sad, it was losing a family member. We ended up keeping our two dogs together that were mother and son and re-homing our dog bear to a family that lived by us.
Our vaccinations were up to date for the United States, so my sister and I passed our physicals needed. We packed up what clothes we were bringing with us, and the military actually have people come in to pack up your homes when you are moving overseas or back.
Before my sister and I left, the dogs had to get shipped over, due to the cold on the plane, shipping was more humane. They had to get put in a kennel large enough for the two of them and off on a boat they went.
My sister and I flew out very early in the morning after the New Year. We took two planes, one smaller plane out of the local airport and then a transfer to a larger plane in Philly. The larger plane was a 9 hour flight where we would get dinner and breakfast on the plane. I was glad my sister and I were able to get seats next to each other and the flight was full, this was the first time we were flying.
In the morning, we ended up in Frankfort. Our passports and military ID’s (for children over 9 years old you have to have a civilian military ID) in hand we began going through customs. That was a four hour long experience. We had to pick up our bags then we stood in the longest line you can imagine. So little by little we were able to move up. We were patted down and our luggage was searched. Once we got to the other side, my mother was waiting for us.
After being over in Germany for four months, she still wasn’t able to get an international license, apparently the test is very hard. We took the train from Frankfort to Hanau and then a taxi to the front of the military base. The pawns guards who stand at the front checked my mother’s ID, my ID and my sisters. And we were then home. A few days later, we were able to pick up the dogs after they were shipped there.
Even though my dogs and my sister and I arrived, our furniture was still not there and my step father had to sell our house before he came out. It took our military furniture about a month to get there.
When my sister and I began school on the 8th, apparently we were missing vaccinations that were needed to attend high school on the military base in Germany. So, of course, we go to the military clinic and begin the three rounds of the vaccination that is necessary. We used the public busses to get to school or we walked, after my first year I chose to walk to the school.
Being in the military and going internationally, I know it is different than just moving internationally, I am not sure if it was harder or easier. I know that also being under 18, I probably didn’t know everything that my mother did or my step father, I can only give my own point of view and what I remember happened. We did learn, because we were on a military base, that we had to follow the laws of the US and of Germany, which can be difficult, but it was some of the best years of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Coming back was just as difficult if not more because we had two cats as well. It was all worth it for anyone who plans on moving out of the country or just traveling out of the country, have all your ducks in a row, I can’t imagine how different things would have been if we were not well organized and prepared months in advance.
Submitted by Patricia M. Sanchez
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