When I was at BRNC Dartmouth, the Royal Navy’s officer training college, we had trainees from all over the world: Africa, South America, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE. All over.
I’m sure the culture shock went both ways — I remember the first time that Adrian saw snow and how he could never stay warm despite wearing two layers of thermals under his uniform. It must have been a shock eating dinner from an English canteen for the first time too.
One memory that sticks in my mind is when my division acquired a rowing machine and we all took it in turns to give it a try. I had rowed a fair bit before this but, still, that machine was brutal. One by one, we jumped in the machine and pulled with everything we had for 800 yards while everyone else shouted encouragement. By the end, every sinew was screaming with pain. It was the most intense workout that I’d ever had.
One of the trainees from a different culture got on the machine next but decided that he’d had enough after 500 yards. Everyone else was just dumbfounded. We didn’t know that giving up was an option. Our divisional Commander said something like “You can’t just give up, Lawrence.” but Lawrence was like “No, it’s too hard. I want to stop now.”
Is giving up really an option? Why was I never told?