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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband is an officer in the Navy, and we are up for orders, which we got yesterday. Looks like we will be headed for Okinawa. I know nothing about it other than it is a 63 mile island with several bases, mostly Marine. I was just wondering if anyone knows what I should expect. How are the schools? I have a 10 year old who will be going into the 6th grade next year. We are planning on having another child, what is the healthcare out there like? We will be there for 18 months.
I won't be able to take all my books, and I have never been more thankful for my Kindle. I will be able to get internet, so can still come visit KB! I am very excited about seeing more of the world, but nervous too! I have never lived outside the US before (well, I'm from San Diego and spent half my summers in Baja, but I don't really count that!). I am going to have to look into book recommendations and load up before I go!
Thanks for any info anyone has!
 

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We have good friends. . .Air Force. . .who were stationed on Okinawa for 2 years.  They loved it.  We went to visit them for 2 weeks and discovered there is a lot to do.  First of all, get involved with the wives (spouses) club.  They have lots of events and trips to various places in the area -- or nearby other countries.  They also have local jewelry vendors come on base to sell; excellent quality stuff and it's relatively cheap.  Our friends went over with minimal furniture and came back with a houseful. . .lots of Asian themed stuff.  Not beds and stuff but fancy armoires and shelving and such.

They were reasonably happy with the schools -- on the AF base -- DoDDS schools in general tend to be on par with the above average school systems in the US and much more flexible than most.  (My son was in a DoDDS school when we lived in England -- 5th thru 7th grade.)  Mind you, it depends on the teacher and administration. . .and on the parents being involved -- much like any school.  Their kid's were in Jr/High and High School at the time.

You'll get to learn how to drive on the left side of the road, like the Brits and Aussies, but it's not really hard.  Going off base is a bit of a challenge if you don't read Japanese, but close to the bases most of the signs are also in English.  It's only when you go farther afield that you begin to feel a little illiterate.

The weather is tropical; don't bother packing heavy winter stuff. 

Have you or will you be assigned a sponsor?  When my husband was active duty and we were being sent overseas, there was always someone assigned to us that we could ask questions of -- and a wife I could ask questions of -- ahead of the move.  It was a great help.

I also think you'll find that, once you get there, people will be very helpful -- they'll all know just how you're feeling!  We were stationed overseas 3 different times (I'm counting Hawaii because all though it is still the US it's not like mainland culture at all.)  Each time we treated it as an adventure.  And we noticed that the folks who approached it that way, were much happier.  The ones who didn't enjoy it spent a lot of time complaining about what they DIDN'T have or COULDN'T get.  And most of those tours were before the Internet so it was even harder to keep in touch with family.

I'd also suggest getting involved in the Chapel community. . .they have a lot of stuff going on too.  And, if you can afford it, take trips to lower Thailand or Australia while you're in the 'neighborhood'.  In short, look at it as an opportunity to do things that were never on your radar before and you'll find that the time will fly by.

Good luck!

Ann
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much! That is just what I needed to hear in order to put my mind at ease! I am kind of new to being a Navy wife, while my husband has earned his stripes in the last 12 years of service, I have only joined him in the last 3. We have only moved once, and half the time since we got married he was in school, so the "Navy Life" is still an adjustment. Funny thing, I always walked away from sailors until I met him. I never wanted this life, but when you find "the one" you do whatever you have to. I am happier than I have ever been and really excited about this newest adventure!
 

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From an old Army wife - everyone is in the same boat as far as missing family, friends and home, so you will come to view those you are stationed with as extended family.  We spent 3 years in Germany (best years of our lives!) and the people we met while there are still the ones we keep in touch with 25 years later.  Like Ann said, your attitude is everything and if you go into this as an adventure so will your child.  Enjoy, make wonderful friends and memories!

Kathy
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Children, actually, I have an 18 month old too! Thank you for your input! I love hearing about the experiences of others. I know I am not alone in this, but sometimes the remider is nice to hear (read)!
 

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I am so jealous!!  My husband is in the Marine Corps and we had 2 tours (6 years) in Okinawa. We would go back there in a heartbeat. Our kids loved it. The schools are DoD, so you are getting quality education. The kids will also be immersed in the local culture, which is fantastic. Base housing is great, built to withstand typhoons (which everyone looks forward to actually because it means everyone has the day off). The sights, the beautiful emerald green water, the friendly locals cannot be beat. Okinawa is more Americanized than you would think and for that we've probably added to the obesity out there lol. They have malls, KFC, McD's, Toys r Us, you name it, they've got it.

When we first went there we only had one American channel but the second tour, they finally got cable! You have all the modern conveniences of being stateside. We scuba dove, we also took martial arts from the grandmasters themselves and loved all the fresh sushi.  ;D  Not to worry about the language barrier cause most of the Okinawans know English, it may be broken English but nonetheless understandable. They do love it when you learn how to speak some Japanese, "Thank you, Excuse Me, Sorry, You're Welcome, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, etc". And of course, you can never bow your head enough, shows respectfulness.

There are a few things you do need to know about their culture, such as passing food from one chopstick to another. If sharing your food, do not pass it from one chopstick to the other person's chopstick (just place it directly on their plate). This is because the passing the chopstick to chopstick is only done as a burial ritual. When their dead is cremated, the bones are picked up by the eldest with a chopstick and passed on to the next elder sort of like a chain to the urn. Oh yes, and slurping is highly accepted there (they see it as a sign that you are enjoying the soup, meal, etc).

Well, I guess I've ranted a lot about this place lol. To fully enjoy the experience, make sure you get out in town, meet the locals, enjoy their holidays, invite them to ours (they love our Thanksgiving lol), just completely immerse yourself in their culture. It's Japan's Hawaii, all the people from Mainland Japan go there for vacation and there are a lot of resorts and tourist attractions out there to see. Please remember though, Okinawans are very proud of their heritage, so don't make the mistake of referring to them as Japanese.

If you have any questions, please email me, my husband and I will be more than happy to answer them. Oh yeah, and enjoy the extra money you'll be making out there (COLA), don't go spending it all on one place lol. You'll soon learn how to negotiate prices.  ;D
 

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Cannot comment on the move, but am very excited for you and hope you will post about your adventures!

However, don't worry about loading your kindle prior to moving since you will have internet, you can order and download to your computer and then move via the usb cord, easy easy easy.

Congrats on finding "the one" - ain't love wonderful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh, thank you all so much. I am getting really excited about the move now.
Surfmom66- Thank you for the advice! I will take you up on those emails as we get closer to our big move!
Anju- You're right! I always use WN and forgot about the USB! DUH! And yes, love is totally wonderful!
 

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You're welcome and I'll look forward to answering your questions. :) I think Okinawa was the best tour of duty my husband has had in his 27 years in the Marine Corps. It is the best environment for raising kids and everyone becomes your family.

The only ones that hated Okinawa were the ones that stayed on the base, in their barracks, who simply did not want to enjoy what was outside the gates. Attitude is everything. This is a once in a lifetime (twice for us) opportunity, take every advantage of it. Be adventurous! You'll love it and so will your family.  ;D
 

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My parents did 2 years in Okinawa in '81-'82 and loved it. My dad wasn't military, he was with AAFES, but...same difference when you're in a military community. I think if they could have stayed, they would have.

Not that helpful, I know. But dang they loved being there.

The Spouse Thingy did 20 years in the USAF and we moved every 2-3 years, but oddly we never made it overseas. I didn't ind that at the time but looking back I wish my son had had the chance to live outside the US. My dad was stationed in Germany when I was little and I regret my son never got to see as much of the world as I did before I was 10.
 

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How exciting for you and your family!  DH, I and 2 and 4 year old lived in Iwakuni (Marine Corps Air Station) on the "Big Island" for 3 years - we absolutely loved it and would have gone back in a heartbeat.  We got to visit friends on Okinawa a couple of times and they also thought it was the best duty station ever.  As you have already been told, base schools tend to be above average everywhere, medical facilities are convenient and you develop real "family doctor" relationships with the medical personnel.  Definitely take advantage of the wives' club and don't restrict yourself to doing everything on base, your experiences will be richer if you shop in local markets and try out off-base restaurants, etc.  We got to travel to Hong Kong and Korea easily and COLA is great!  Maintaining contact stateside with family and friends has to be so much easier now with the internet (we budgeted a half hour phone call to grandma once a month at $3/min).

All of the other military and DoD personnel are also far from home and looking for new friends - they wil become family.  My best friend to this day (also a fellow kindler!) was made during that time and even though we live across the country from each other now, we maintain the closeness developed through shared experiences overseas.  You can also PM me anytime with questions or to share joys and God Bless your husband for the job he does.

Chris
 

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Okinawa!! Its so beautiful. Its climate is a lot like Hawaii. I lived in Misawa, but I made my way to Okinawa a couple of times. DOD schools are awesome. Living overseas is great. Its a great for the kids. You gotta try to sign up for and attend as many base trips and festivals as you can. Don't forget about 'hops'. My mom and her best friend used to head to Korea to go shopping.  The cherry blossom season just finished up. Still there are a whole lot of festivals through out the year especially in the summer.

I was only 11 when we first moved to Japan. Never in my childhood...or now...did I have that much freedom. My brother and I rode our bikes everywhere. I still have my japanese city bike, which I ride around las vegas, still. In the three years my family lived in Japan, we went to numerous festivals and historistic places. On weekends we'd take family road trips or day trips. Get the kids involved with base sports and school activities, although the ones that involve travelling to the different bases are mostly for the jr&sr high schoolers. When I played for the softball team in Misawa (the base only had one girls team), we'd travel to different bases to compete.

I don't know much about Okinawa, but I know its home to the second largest aquarium in the world. They have 3-4 whale sharks and....its been six years since I've been there.

As for food, OMG! Once you've had Japanese food in Japan...its going to be difficult to find anything to match once you get back to the states.
 

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MAGreen - I'm so excited for you, you have such an amazing experience ahead of you.  I really hope you will start a new thread when you get there so we can hear all about your adventures.

Forgive my ignorance, what's a "DoD School"?  Does DoD just refer to Department of Defense?

Vegas - I love your enthusiasm!
 

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kim said:
MAGreen - I'm so excited for you, you have such an amazing experience ahead of you. I really hope you will start a new thread when you get there so we can hear all about your adventures.

Forgive my ignorance, what's a "DoD School"? Does DoD just refer to Department of Defense?

Vegas - I love your enthusiasm!
DoD is just an abbreviation of Department of Defense. The schools are taught by civil service employees who are contracted and housed on-base in Okinawa.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am getting so excited about this move now!
I love hearing all of your stories! I can't wait to get there and make some of my own. My son will be in the 2-4 year age range while we are there, as he is developing language skills. I am hoping he will pick up Japanese while he learns English. My daughter is so wrapped up in herself, I am hoping this will open her eyes to the wide wonderful world out there!
 

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At that age, I'm guessing your son will pick up the language easily.  You will probably get frustrated because you won't know what he's talking about  :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Aww heck, it all sounds like gibberish now anyway. At least it will mean something to someone out there when he does learn it! ;)
 

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Surfmom66 said:
The only ones that hated Okinawa were the ones that stayed on the base, in their barracks, who simply did not want to enjoy what was outside the gates. Attitude is everything. This is a once in a lifetime (twice for us) opportunity, take every advantage of it. Be adventurous! You'll love it and so will your family. ;D
As an old Air Force wife (and mother of a current AF wife) I just wanted to second this observation & advice. My husband's overseas assignments were all in Europe but we've always heard great things about Okinawa and I always harbored a secret wish to be stationed there. It won't always be rainbows & kittens, but then again neither is life here in the States. Sounds like you're going in with the right attitude - enjoy!
 

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I wish I had better pictures to share with you but here's one that I found. This is a picture of base housing on Camp Lester, where the old Naval Hospital used to be before they relocated it. But as you can see, the island is simply beautiful.

 
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