Where are you originally from? Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
Have you always worked in the dental field? While in high school and just after, I worked in the retail, restaurant, and grocery fields. Any other degrees acquired before turning to hygiene? No.
In which country(-ies) did you, or do you, work abroad in? From which years? Switzerland from 2002-2005 and 2011-2012, and Germany from 2018 to present.
What inspired you to move abroad? A visit to Europe just after hygiene school made me fall in love with the history, architecture, and different cultures that were a simple train ride away.
What did your family say? Some family members were supportive but my parents were horrified!
Were you afraid? I wasn’t afraid at all, but in hindsight, I realize that I probably should have been.
What is/was that region known for? Germany and the German-speaking region of Switzerland share similar cultures. Beer, wurst, breads, lederhosen and dirndls (clothes), and efficiency. Switzerland is known for its mountains, chocolates, watches, and being on time.
What practice did you work for and in which specialty? I have worked for mostly perio offices but I did work for one oral surgeon.
What was the makeup of the staff? All were Europeans but from different areas. In Switzerland I worked with Turks, Italians, and Swiss, while in Germany I worked with Germans, Syrians, people from the Caribbean, and Asians.
What is your social life like? Very laid-back and child-centered, since I have a young child. There are lots of kid-friendly activities and just being out of doors provides opportunities to learn about history and architecture.
What did you most enjoy? I most enjoy the travel and history. Least enjoy? The rigidity that is sometimes found in the culture.
What were the patients like? My patients have mostly been really cool. Especially in Germany, most speak some English and many know the U.S> better than I do! They enjoy talking about traveling in the U.S. with me.
Any exceptional experiences? As I’m in Bavaria, many of my patients are familiar with Americans due to the many military bases around there. I’m still moved when my older patients describe their experiences as children during the war. Many were immigrants from other parts of Europe under Nazi control and had to start from scratch after the war decimated German cities, especially Augsburg.
How did the experience change you as a person? Professionally? I learned a lot of different ways to do things. Personally? I’ve grown as a person. I understand the world and its people much more than I did before I left the U.S.
Do you still practice hygiene? I do still work in private practice and I would like to gradually leave private practice. Why or why not? I’m more interested in teaching.
Do you have any regrets? None at all! I’m glad I got to experience both Germany and Switzerland.
How would you like to be remembered? As someone who took life by the horns and helped others grow along the way.
Any wisdom you would like to pass on to future internationally practicing hygienists? Use your dental hygiene career to the fullest!
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