Monday, December 21, 2015

A Little Bit of Reflection

After days like those described in yesterday's post, I always feel a little ridiculous, but I think that's part of the experience of living abroad.  At least it is for me.

We never want our stories, pictures or this blog to come off as bragging, which is why I try to include some of the not-so-great days we experience, as well as all of our adventures.  If I ever sound like I'm bragging, please tell me. We simply want to share this experience with you.  One of my goals of this blog was to document everything we experience and see, but I also wanted to share our experience with our friends and family back at home.  I think it's important to describe what our life is like in Turkey because if you just knew what is described in the news, you'd think we lived in a war zone.  Instead, we live in a city that's bigger than Los Angeles and wouldn't know about any sort of fighting if it weren't for the news.  Our travels are incredible and instead of bombarding your facebook with pictures that you can't avoid, I try to post them on the blog so you can look at them if you choose.

I'm approaching the six month mark (Christmas Day!) in Turkey and Mike and I have been doing a lot of reflecting and talking about this experience.  There is a running joke that the Olmsted experience is the best deal in the military and I have to agree.  This has been the experience of a life time.  The not-so-great days are vastly outnumbered by the amazing experiences that we get to have.  I've traveled to more countries in the past six months than I have in my entire life.  How crazy is that?  I've been places that I probably would have never traveled to otherwise (Saklikent, Patara and Demre) and seen things I didn't even know existed (Pamukkale).

Traveling abroad is one experience everyone should have, but living abroad is whole other experience that is just as worthwhile.  It's definitely not always as easy and fun as traveling abroad, but it's truly life changing.  I have been pushed out of my comfort zone so many times and been exposed to so many different ways of thinking that I've become so much more open minded and confident in myself. Mike has had to deal with countless more hardships and struggles than I have, from applying and getting into his Master's Program to dealing with Turkish bureaucracy.  We're both missing bachelor(ette) parties, weddings, birthdays and holidays at home, which is more emotionally taxing than anything I've ever experienced.  Despite the hardships, we're learning and growing so much, it's an experience that I'm glad we're having.

While it may be the best deal in the military, I can't think of anyone more deserving of this experience than these military men and women.  Before we began our Olmsted experience, Mike was attached to a submarine.  He was working 10+ hour days five days a week, as well as two to three nights on duty.  He's spent countless weeks underway on the submarine.  His six month deployment turned to eight and was full of unexpected hardships. Our only communication when he is underway is through emails.  I'm sure that the scholars from other branches (and their families) experience similar hardships.  So, while this may be the experience of a lifetime, we know that it's going to end in just a year and a half and we will go back to the life of nights on duty, deployments and emails.  These scholars are some of the hardest working people out there and they definitely deserve a little bit of a break every once and a while.

I guess what I'm trying to say is,  thank you Olmsted Foundation and the Navy for giving a little bit of reprieve and letting us experience the best deal in the military.  It's been an incredible six months and I'm anxious to see what the next 18 have in store.