I live in Staffordshire - United Kingdom.
I grew up with "Finescale 0 Gauge" (That's 43:1 - 7mm=1ft) Great Western Railway. (Also known as "God's Wonderful" or "Great Way Round").
I never dreamt of working for British Rail... took a temporary job and stayed 30+ years.
Having done years of research I got bored with the British rivet counters and switched to US outline to simply enjoy the trains. O scale wasn't practical so I moved to H0.
I focussed on Chicago to start with for the simple reason that I didn't have a clue where to start... but the CNW ran on the correct side... also a distant relative nearly lost his nose to frostbite in the Windy City about 1905 (according to family legend).