He’s used to butter being a tad more yellow and hasn’t had a good slice of bread in months, but otherwise Jim Fry is adjusting nicely to life some 3,500 miles from his native Scotland.

“Because my wife is American and I have visited many times, it was less of a culture shock than it could have been,” he said of life in Southwest Virginia. “I don’t care for some of the food. Everything seems too sweet. Even the bread tastes to me like it is made with lots of sugar, which it probably is.”

Jim spent his entire career working as a registered nurse for a psychiatric hospital operated by Scotland’s National Health Service. He steadily worked his way up the ranks into management roles, all the while planning for retirement at age 55 so he and his wife could move to the United States. They visited the U.S. almost every year and, during visits to Washington D.C., had the opportunity to travel south to North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

When Jim reached retirement age, he and his wife decided to settle in Abingdon – drawn primarily by friendly people and the natural beauty of the region. So when he was ready to go back to work, he took a job at the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion and, upon the recommendation of a supervisor there, enrolled in the Nurse Aide program at VHCC. That program is training him to provide basic patient care while he investigates the steps needed to get a Virginia nursing license.

“Toby’s been a big help,” he said of Nurse Aide Instructor Toby Cook. “She’s been able to put me in touch with people who can decide if I can sit for the (nursing) exam.”

When not focused on his career, Jim enjoys long hikes through the “countryside” and reading. He spends a great deal of time in libraries perusing books on a wide range of topics. Recently, he’s been drawn to non-fiction works – particularly those that focus on philosophy as a way of life.

And although he’s still getting used to life in this country, he’s already seen more of the United States than many Americans. In 2015, he and his wife took a 26,000 mile cross-country journey. They traveled through 25 states and were particularly awed by the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon and Redwood Forests.

Now settled in our region, Jim is confident he made the right decision to move here and, in fact, said he probably should have come a little sooner. He’s received a warm welcome and feels right at home. Now, if he could only find a good piece of cheese…