Meet the Bowen family: Freya (21) and her brother Alex (15), parents Christopher (serving) and Katie and their greyhound collie cross, Misty. Here, Freya shares her story…
My parents have been an army family for 22 years and over the years my opinion of military life has varied. Sometimes I really wasn’t ready to move on to the next place and school, but I overcame it and settled down again. Sometimes we managed to unpack the last box before the next move!
The best experience for me has been living in and travelling in Europe and getting a first-hand grasp of the German language. I have friends all over in the world and learn from their cultures and customs.
The worst is not having an answer to the dreaded question: “Where are you from?”. I found this the most annoying when introducing myself at university for the first time.
We have never lived close to relatives and I struggled to comprehend that my cousins lived across the road from my grandparents.
I learnt to live independently at boarding school and university; even the house moves don’t faze me now that we’re on the tenth one.
The school changes affected Alex and I the most. Between us in the different curriculums we each learnt about the Greeks four times but missed out on the Romans!
My favourite posting was Joint Headquarters Rheindahlen in Germany by far! It’s where I say I’m from when asked. I grew up there and made the most memories, most notably getting asked for ID in the NAAFI when buying sweets when I was nine.
When I was younger, I went to clubs with ‘patch’ friends, but I did miss out as a boarder. As a teenager I babysat for families during school holidays.
I’ve always made a point of teaching all my friends some military lingo – the idea of getting ‘posted’ is a fun one.
Recently I’ve created artwork on this topic for my art degree, unpacking the unique experience of the military child… an idea not too unfamiliar for an army family!
The advice I would give to other children growing up in an army family is to embrace all the moves. A bad posting will fly by and only last two years, and so will a good posting, so make the most of the experience and locality whilst you can.
SHARE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Part of Freya’s art degree is focused upon the experience of the military child in relation to the importance of the serving person. If any school, college or university pupils (aged 5-23) are interested in sharing their perspective of military life through photos, artwork, poetry or mini-interviews, please contact Freya by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever your relationship to your soldier, we’d love to hear about your army family. Email us at email@example.com and follow @ArmyandYou on social media for more stories.