May 2010

Coming to America

The question of work for the noncontracted partner is the biggest consideration for any couple contemplating a move overseas for an extended period of time. I researched the job market extensively before we made the decision to come, as well as in the months leading up to the move itself. As an environmental scientist and manager, I was confident that I would find employment. But then, we were taken by surprise by the speed of the financial collapse and the depth of flow-on effects on employment. Certainly federal jobs were out there, but not for a non-U.S. citizen. In the private sector, I was told by one manager, “we are having problems retaining staff.”

Despite these difficulties, I kept trying, and work did come. I am currently an adjunct professor at Hood College, where I lecture in the graduate environmental science and policy course. My teaching keeps me very busy indeed, and I now have two graduate students starting projects with me.

Moving overseas for any reason is a big step. Rachel and I prepared as well as we could, and we were still caught by surprise in a number of different ways. But then, that is what gaining experience is all about, in both life and work. Are we disappointed with our choices? No! We are leveraging our professional qualifications and experience to follow a dream and experience what the world has to offer and to make new friends and stories that we really can write home about. 

Tertius de Kluyver ( has undergraduate degrees in biology and biochemistry and studied for his doctorate at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. He has worked as an environmental scientist, academic and manager in the public and private sectors and was a senior environmental manager with the Queensland Government. Tertius came to the U.S. in support of his wife’s postdoctoral position with the National Institutes of Health. He now teaches environmental science and policy at Hood College.

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