Lee Maiwald, along with his wife, lived and worked in Colchester, England, for a year teaching at the Colchester Institute as part of a Fulbright Exchange program.
My wife and I spent one of the most interesting years of our lives when I was awarded a Fulbright Exchange to England. As most in our community, we were not widely traveled, although we were probably more so than most.
I have had students in my college classes that had never traveled more than a hundred miles from home - yes, even in these days.
So, I have often related our year abroad to my classes and even lectured in the differences between countries. I also encourage everyone to travel. Beg, steal or borrow the money to travel and your life will be forever enriched.
Working overseas expands your experience a hundred fold over being a tourist. Living day by day experiences gives you a totally different prospective on your life. You will never understand your country more or better than you will upon your return home.
We now have friends that we stay in email contact with in England. We go over from time to time and they return the visits. We still have a ball traveling together seeing things that many times none of us have seen, even in our own countries. We laugh at the differences in mannerisms, customs, jokes, and etc. And we, and they, gather a wealth of depth in our respective countries - and no tourist can ever reach that depth of understanding.
As for the time spent in our foreign country, I usually tell people this
little story: I was standing at the bus stop in Colchester, England one weekday waiting to ride to work at college. It was lightly raining and the wind was cold. I watched as the rain fell on my shoes where the bus stop canopy did not cover. And I thought to myself; Here I am, over 5,000 miles from home, and I know where the #6 bus goes - fantastic!
It is indeed the small things that often make the biggest impression on our lives.
Image courtesy billtownsendphotography