Military spouses are their own special breed. We find ourselves moving all over the world to be with our service member. We end up in foreign countries where we don’t speak the language or where we don’t know the customs or cultures. Even the most adventurous of people experience a little bit of culture shock with every OCONUS (Outside Continental United States) move. But there is one thing that we always have — friends around us that know why we want to throw a Super Bowl party and the knowledge that one day we will be back in the comfort of the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Foreign military spouses (i.e., spouses that come from another country other than the United States) don’t have the same luxuries of born-and-bred U.S. citizens. Not only do they have to learn the customs and cultures of the United States, but they are also sucked into the crazy life that is the military lifestyle. Military life is hard for many of us, so can you imagine if your time at “home” isn’t spent with anyone who understands the customs and culture from your country?
Brunella Costagliola is one of those spouses. She was born and raised in Italy and married into the American culture with her husband. For the past ten years as a military spouse, she has adapted to the military life while also trying to remain true to her culture and upbringing. Brunella recently gained her American citizenship but she, along with her family, continue to share in the Italian culture as much as possible. Brunella has three tips for fellow foreign military spouses as they adjust to both the American and military lifestyle.
1. Continue to Speak Your Language
One of Brunella’s most important tips is to continue to speak your language. Use it whenever you can, whether watching your favorite television shows or movies at home (isn’t streaming amazing?) or teaching your spouse or children your native language. Brunella says, “It is pivotal for me that my MilKids know that, even though we live in the United States of America where everyone speaks English, we also speak Italian.”
2. Celebrate Your Holidays
More holidays to celebrate? Heck yes! Double the culture means even more to celebrate. Brunella suggests that while you will undoubtedly celebrate your American holidays, you can also celebrate your culture’s unique holidays, too. She shares that her family “celebrates Italian holidays at home [such as] Carnevale — the Italian version of Mardi Gras.” To add to the fun, bring in your culture’s traditions when celebrating American holidays. For example, if your culture has a special dish or activity for Christmas, incorporate it in your celebration.
3. Visit Home
Take the opportunity to visit your home country whenever you can — and take your family! It is an amazing way to allow
Today, Brunella is a proud Italian-American who loves both countries, along with all the customs and cultures. She has worked hard to create a career as a military spouse, becoming an Award-winning author and best-selling editor. She now works with military spouses just like her who are looking to publish their own work.
Foreign military spouses not only have to assimilate to American culture, but also to military culture, which can be a shock for any military spouse. Over her ten years as a military spouse, Brunella has discovered that keeping her family’s Italian roots integrated into her new culture has been essential to
Brunella Costagliola is an Award-winning author and best-selling editor. She won the Silver Medal from the Military Writers Society of America for the children’s picture book she wrote, titled “My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do? Helping Military Children Cope with a Brain-Injured Parent“. She is the founder and owner of The Military Editor™, a boutique editing agency providing editing services and publishing consultation to military authors. She is also a proud Air Force wife and mother to two highly resilient military children.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on How to Grow a Baby and a Business as a Military Spouse Entrepreneur