Well hi! If heading here on Saturday morning and reading this is a teeny part of your weekend routine, THANKS! 🙂 So glad to have ya! What are you up to this weekend? This morning I’m briefly speaking on a panel over at K-State and answering questions about how I make food choices for my family. I believe there will be many farmers from across the state there, and I know at least two people I’ve met through blogging functions will be there! Looking forward to seeing them. 🙂
Today I have sweet Kara in this series as this week’s featured blogger. She lives in JAPAN! Cool, right?! You’ll enjoy living vicariously through her interview today. It’s a fun one! Meet Kara!
Q: In three sentences or less, please tell us a bit about who you are:
Konnichiwa everyone! I’m Kara, a Marine wife currently living in Okinawa, Japan with my husband and our two cats. When we’re not exploring every inch our tiny island or eating absurd amounts of ramen, my husband and I love travelling throughout Asia. “Life with the Lesniaks” is where I share all of our adventures, my thoughts/opinions about military and Okinawa life, and attempt to keep my family and friends updated with our lives while we’re 7,600 miles away!
Q: Your original email about living in Okinawa, Japan made me so excited to eventually feature you! Did you originally start blogging to share about this journey of living overseas or were you already a blogger?
“Life with the Lesniaks” began right before I left for Okinawa in March of 2016. I knew that I was about to embark on most likely the craziest adventure of my life and wanted a way to share my experience with anyone who was interested!
Q: Did you and your husband always hope to be stationed overseas one day or did this far-away duty station come as a shock/disappointment?
In retrospect it’s kind of funny, but Okinawa was my husband’s absolute last choice of duty station! We were hoping and praying that he would be stationed on the East Coast but the Marine Corps clearly had way different plans for us. Needless to say, I was so shocked that I still didn’t believe we were actually going until I was literally on the plane bound for Okinawa… Not to mention, when I first looked at Okinawa on Google maps I couldn’t find Tokyo (the only place I knew in Japan) so I kept zooming out and out and eventually realized that Okinawa wasn’t in Japan… It was an island 400 MILES SOUTH OF JAPAN! However, immediately after that surprise I also discovered that it was subtropical and covered in beaches so the shock definitely began to give way to excitement.
Even though we were surprised by this news, my husband and I realized immediately that this was the perfect opportunity to travel and enjoy a three year honeymoon of sorts. It was definitely a stressful PCS but we both agree that moving to Okinawa has been the biggest blessing. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m forever grateful that the Marine Corps doesn’t take duty station lists very seriously!
Q: In a nutshell, tell us about your experiences in Okinawa so far.
We’ve been in Okinawa for two years now and my husband and I still can’t believe that we actually live here! Every weekend feels like an exotic vacation, we’re either hitting a gorgeous beach, exploring waterfalls in the jungle, gorging ourselves on authentic ramen/sushi/takoyaki/any and every Japanese cuisine, or visiting one of Okinawa’s many historical sites.
In addition to loving all things Okinawa, my husband and I have also taken advantage of the extremely affordable airfare here. So far we’ve been able to visit Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Osaka, Nara and Kyoto and there’s still more travelling we’d like to do. If we weren’t already living in Asia we’d never be able to afford the airfare to all of these incredible places!
Q: What branch of the military is your husband in? What do you love about being a military spouse?
My husband is currently a Supply Officer in the Marine Corps. It can definitely be hard living so far away from family, but I feel like the Marine Corps (especially my husband’s battalion) has created a really tight knit community here. When I first came to Okinawa, I was a brand new Marine spouse who knew literally nothing about the military. I was helplessly confused by everything but instead of judgement I was graciously given so much help and guidance by the kind and supportive spouses and Marines I met. I feel really lucky that there are so many people here who’ve got mine and my husband’s back.
Q: Anything that you find particularly challenging about living overseas? What do you miss most about being in the states?
There are definitely cons to living in Okinawa, I miss my family a ton and the 14 hour time difference has made it really difficult to communicate with them. I’ve only seen them in person for two weeks out of the past two years which breaks my heart. Airfare back to the states is outrageously expensive though and since I have limited vacation days it’s pretty much impossible to visit home.
The longer we’ve been here the more and more I start to notice little inconveniences like not having access to a Target or constantly dealing with a language barrier off base. In reality these are two tiny annoyances, but after a while you really start to miss the comfort and familiarity of living in your own country.
Q: I saw that you actually got a job working on base. Is that correct? If so, how did you land a rare job like that?
It’s true! I’m an Administrative Assistant for Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) and truthfully I still have no clue how I landed my job. There were literally 52 other applicants! Needless to say, Okinawa is a very brutal place to job hunt. Your options to work both on and off base are extremely limited and even if you can find a job off base, you’ll have to pay both US and Japanese taxes which can pretty much make any job worthless.
I was petrified that I wasn’t going to be able to find a job when I came here. I was just about one year out of college and really wanted to utilize my degree that I had just spent a boat load of money on. Although the position I ended up landing definitely isn’t my dream job nor is it in my field, I’m incredibly grateful that I have it. The sad reality is that Okinawa is severely lacking jobs for spouses. My best advice for job seekers would be to apply to as many jobs as you qualify for even if they may not seem ideal. Unfortunately, beggars can’t be choosers in Okinawa!
Q: Do you have any current blogging goals?
I definitely want to start blogging more frequently. I’m so thankful I started “Life with the Lesniaks” because it’s been a great record of my life for the past two years. It’s so interesting rereading some of my older posts and getting to relive specific moments in time. The more I write about the more memories that are captured forever, ya know? I definitely see myself blogging well after I leave Okinawa just for that reason alone.
Q: Where should new readers start on your site?
I always love “how we met” stories on other people’s blogs so I’d definitely check mine out if you’re interested in a good old fashioned love story!
Three months after we arrived to Okinawa, I wrote a post about assimilating to life both in Japan and on a military base. It gives a really good glimpse what it was like adjusting to my new surroundings and what a normal day in Okinawa is like.
I’ve heard from a lot of people that living on base in Okinawa is an experience unlike any other you’ll ever have… For better or for worse… If you’ve ever wondered what living on a military base was like or what weird oddities come specifically from in Okinawa then check out this post!
Q: Where can we connect with you on social media?
I spend wayyyy too much time on Instagram, when you live in such a scenic place it’s pretty much impossible to stay off of it!
Instagram: Kara Lesniak
And just for fun…
1. Pizza and pasta: Both, when it comes to carbs the more the merrier! My heart breaks whenever I hear about someone going on some low carb/no carb diet… A life without mac and cheese is one I never want to know!!!
2. Lay on the beach or swim in the ocean: Whelp, I’m unfortunately a sun burner even with a healthy layer of sunscreen on so I spend my beach days under the water where the sun *maybe* can’t burn me as much.
3. Hair up or hair down? Always down, I’m that weirdo who carries a mini brush in their purse so I can fix my hair whenever/wherever! It’s a purchase I highly recommend. 🙂
4. Mani/pedi or massage? Errr… Both again? Questions like this cause such an internal struggle! For the sake of longevity though, I guess it’s money better spent when you can rock your mani/pedi after you leave the salon as opposed to a massage which sadly ends way too soon.
Thank you so much, Kara!!
Is this your first time to Whimsical September? Welcome!
Hello! I’m Erica, the blogger behind Whimsical September. I created the “The Saturday Sit-Down” series in January 2017 as a way to give back to the blogging community and link readers with new bloggers whom they may share similar interests with. Click here to discover more bloggers that have been featured on “The Saturday Sit-Down”. I promise you – there’s some GREAT ones!
Want to be featured in this series?
I have openings starting in the summer of 2018 and would love to feature you! Please fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch with you. It’s totally free and a fun way to bring new sets of eyes to your blog. <3 PS: Bloggers with any size following are welcome to be featured, whether you’re brand new or “seasoned”. 🙂