How a personal experience affected my life and made me who I am.
I have never lived in one place for more than four years at a time. The reason? I am an Army brat. Some feel sorry for me, but I think my life was greatly enriched by moving so often. My life has given me many unique opportunities to observe and live in other cultures, including a whole different lifestyle within the military community itself. I feel that this experience as a military child has positively developed my character and has enabled me to adapt readily to new situations. Moving exposed me to many different countries and cultures. I was born in Germany and subsequently moved to Minnesota, Hawaii, Holland, Hawaii again, Pennsylvania, and finally back to Hawaii. In all these situations, I was struck by both the differences between people and places and our remarkable ability to get along anyway. For example, people of many countries converge in Hawaii, where one can hear five languages spoken around him at once, whereas Germany is a fairly homogenous place. In Holland, I attended an international school for two years and befriended Canadians, British, Germans, Dutch, and Yugoslavians – a wonderfully diverse group that found plenty of commonalities to share. Living in a place is the best way to learn about its local culture, but traveling is a strong runner up. I have been fortunate to travel to many countries around the world and to many places in the USA. This traveling has made me realize how important it is to learn about other societies. Travel has taught me to be more open-minded, to accept others, and to appreciate how others may view life in a different way than I do.Military culture has also affected who I am. Being part of a military community is different than growing up in what we call “the civilian world.” The rules – including my parents’ – are stricter than elsewhere. We live in close proximity to our neighbors, and that requires learning to get along with them. Learning to build relationships easily is essential to survival as a military brat since you have to make new friends and meet new people each time you move. I also attribute my independent and outgoing nature to the moving associated with military life. Moving and leaving friends behind is never easy, but these experiences have prepared me for change and taught me how to adapt. Because of these experiences I recognize that life is unpredictable and that sometimes there’s nothing I can do about it. I try to look at things optimistically and be the best person I can be.Despite the negative connotations of the term, I am proud to be a “military brat” and I know that the experiences and skills I have developed as a result will benefit me in college and beyond.