Now that finals are over and the dorms are being evacuated, I have time to reflect on the past year. My first year in college was a great whirlwind of fun that flew by too fast. Knowing what I do now about college, myself and "the real world," I understand more how my upbringing, as the daughter of a military service member, has prepared me for college. Being a military brat is a unique lifestyle, but all my past experiences and lessons learned as a military brat helped me to succeed as a new university student. Having many unique experiences, all military brats come in with a plethora of knowledge and perspective that gives us the upper-hand in life beyond high school.
1. Meeting people is easy.
While many of your fellow freshmen were hiding in their dorms, scared of so many new faces, you were probably out saying "hi" to everyone on your floor. It can still be a bit nerve-wracking, but having gone through similar situations during every move, it makes you feel more confident when it comes to new, awkward introductions. Although being a military brat doesn't make you an automatic extrovert, it sure helps having years of experience with meeting new people.
2. You have world experiences.
Students come from all over the country and world to attend colleges in the United States, each with their own stories and experiences. Being a military brat, you most likely are one of those students that have traveled a long way to reach your university, which makes you special among your peers. Having seen so much of the world and experiencing different cultures, you consider yourself a well-rounded world citizen with lots of fun stories to add to class discussion.
3. Adaptability is your middle name.
College is a big time of change for anyone, but military brats come prepared with a little thing called adaptability. Resilience practically runs through your veins now, so adapting to dorm-life, college classes and anything else that comes your way, is second nature.
4. You're a pro at maintaining friendships, even long distance.
Moving so much has forced you to make and lose friends at a rate civilian children can't comprehend. Doing so has made you a great friend-maker as well a friend keeper, which is something that is vital when leaving high school friends for college. Moving away doesn't mean losing all your old friends, so you are willing to do what it takes to maintain friendships, whether that be through technology, old-fashioned snail mail or planned visits.
5. Moving in and out of your dorm is a breeze.
Boxes are something that never really go away in any of your past or present houses, so finding a way to get all of your stuff to and from your dorm is made easy. Plus, you're a pro at packing, unpacking and living out of a suitcase, so the whole process is made speedy and less stressful because of moving throughout all those years.
6. You know punctuality is important.
Punctuality is an important aspect of military life, as well as college life. Growing up as a military brat has instilled in you the importance of being on time, and that is something you now carry with you into the punctual world of college.
7. Being away from your parents isn't new.
Although it doesn't necessarily get easier, you're used to the idea of having one or both of your parents in a different place, state or country. Many students who move away struggle with homesickness and loneliness their first year, but being a military brat has prepared you a bit more for not being with your parents.
8. Leadership comes naturally.
Military brats often are given responsibilities at a younger age than their non-brat counterparts. During deployment, you may have had to take on greater tasks and step up to the plate to help the rest of your family in the absence of one parent. Although it can be a very stressful time, these moments have taught you to be a leader -- a skill that is very valuable in college.
9. You have a unique perspective.
Because of your travels and experiences as a military brat, you have a unique perspective on life. Whether it's on politics, social topics or economics, you may see things differently than your non-brat friends, which is great for sharing ideas and opinions. You can often see a side of the story that others don't, which comes in handy during classes.
10. Keeping track of your student I.D. is just like keeping track of your military I.D.
All military brats know that their military I.D. is like their golden ticket -- something they never leave home without. Once you got to college and realized your student I.D. was basically the equivalent on campus, it instantly became easier to keep track of because you've already been trained through years of carrying your military I.D.
11. Saying "goodbye" is nothing new.
Military brats grow up having to say goodbye to life as they know it every few years, so saying goodbye to old high school friends before college or new dorm friends after your first year is made easy. Through experience, military brats know that "goodbye" really just means "see you later."