While my international experiences do not include working outside the United States, I spent six months studying in England, and I have traveled to Europe and South America for official travel for the U.S. Coast Guard.
I spent two terms during my junior year as an
undergraduate student studying literature and philosophy at the
University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Norwich, nestled along
the broads of Norfolk in eastern England, is said to have a church for
every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year. I was at
UEA for only six months and was unable to make a visit to all the
churches and all the pubs.While at UEA, I was active in the drama and literary societies.
Years later as a maritime search & rescue specialist, I traveled to Suriname to advise the Surinamese Navy on the creation of a joint maritime operations center and rescue coordination center. In addition, I traveled to England and the low country of Europe for a liaison visit to four maritime rescue coordination centers: Falmouth, England; Gris Nez, France; Oostende, Belgium; Den Helder, The Netherlands. The results of this trip provided initial comparative data for a U.S. Coast Guard initiative to improve our rescue coordination centers through increased staffing, comprehensive training, and better center equipment and layout. Both of these trips allowed me to interact with maritime professionals of these foreign countries, to learn a little about their countries and cultures, and to help build upon the positive relationships between the United States and their countries, the Coast Guard and their respective services and agencies.
What likely makes my few international forays different from many other Americans' experiences slightly is that I spent more time with the locals than other Americans. I spent more time in a single place just getting into the community and milieu, and I spent no time seeking American wares on the store shelves. I wouldn't claim that I'd "gone native," but I would say that I worked to be a part of the community instead of being an outsider looking in.