Search the Carolina Meadows directory and you'll find that 20 percent of the residents have lived abroad in 79 different countries. Three of the more exotic locations were Tobago, Iran and Java.Henry and Margrit Goldstein were in the restaurant and hotel business and lived in Switzerland, Germany, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Canada before being assigned to Tobago, then part of the British Commonwealth. It was a popular destination for many famous people because it was off the "tourist track." The most famous visitor to the Goldsteins' hotel, Queen Elizabeth II, came in 1966. In preparation for her visit, a lot of work had to be done, including redecorating the "Queen's Cottage." New linens and a new toilet had to be put in place and other cottages vacated. At the queen's request, the Goldsteins met with her one day at 3 p.m. They were informed that the first time they spoke to her, she was to be addressed as "Your majesty." After that, she could be called "Ma'am." The queen's manner, they said, was very informal, and in the warm climate, she sat with her shoes off. The queen gave Margrit a beautiful scarf and Henry a silver cigarette lighter that they still have. Betty and Bob Kent went to Iran in 1977, when the Shah was in power. Betty was lucky in respect: At that time women didn't have to wear the chador. Bob was employed by American Bell International, along with some 1,000 others, to improve the Iranian telephone system. Only about 10 percent of Iranians had telephones, and there was no telephone directory. Bob went to Teheran first to find a place to live and get the job organized. He found a nice apartment where the landlords were helpful and friendly. Bell provided furniture and shipping for 1,500 pounds of household goods from the United States. When that was done, Betty came to make the apartment their home. She learned to speak Farsi, became friendly with their Iranian neighbors, and did the shopping. She says that the most memorable thing about their stay was the interaction with the Iranian people.Then, in February 1979, came the revolution. To have all the Bell people in one place in case they had to be evacuated in a hurry, they were moved into the not-yet-completed Crown Hyatt hotel. They had been there for about three weeks when armed revolutionaries shot out 250 of the hotel's windows. All of the "foreigners" were herded down 12 flights of stairs into the Tea Room on the first floor, where they were guarded by armed men. The Kents' room was searched and their valuables stolen.They flew home safely on the first flight out. Betty says her biggest culture shock on arriving home came when she saw the enormous volume and variety of products available in our super markets. In Iran, she had learned to "do without."The island of Java in Indonesia was home to 18-year-old Judith Ferster in the summers of 1978 and '79. An archeologist friend who was living with a peasant family in a small village invited her to come for a visit, and as she was curious to see what life was like in a culture where there was no electricity or telephone service, she went to be with her friend, who could interpret the languages and culture. The father of the house was a shadow-puppet master, a very important person in that village. Two of the most important art forms of the island were shadow-puppet shows and the gamelan, the percussion orchestra that plays during the all-night shows. Those plays are a very important part of the Javanese culture and are performed for important family events such as birth, a son's circumcision, weddings and funerals.Invited guests sat inside the house to watch the shadows and were served snacks while uninvited villagers gathered outside to watch the puppet master and the gamelan -- without snacks. Most of the plays were based on two great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mabharta.The national language was Indonesian, which was taught in the schools and which Ferster learned. Javanese was the language spoken in the home, and there were three levels of that language. The lowest level was used in speaking to children and servants and the upper two according to the importance of the person being addressed. It was easy to insult someone by speaking in a level lower than they expected.The religion was Islam, but the strictest form was not followed. The Hindu temple complex, Prambanan, and the Buddhist Borobudur, located near Ferster's village, were still visited.Every day Ferster watched (and sometimes participated in) cooking and ate two meals, both made up of rice and tempeh or rice and vegetables, sometimes with a spicy peanut sauce. She read and chatted by the light of a kerosene lamp, did laundry in a stream, harvested rice and planted peanuts. Although there were signs of poverty, the community took care of its poorest workers by hiring them for planting and harvesting and including them in the shadow puppet meals.In Ferster's home today, a shadow puppet made by the family's son hangs on the wall, and she is pleased to have that reminder of her immersion into the Javanese culture .The Goldsteins, the Kents, and Judith Ferster all agree that living in a totally different culture greatly enriched their lives.