Views #178 | Mid-Intermediate 5

Life Overseas

Christian talks about his first experiences as a student overseas.

Todd: Okay, Christian, you were just telling me that you lived in New Zealand as an exchange student.

Christian: That's right, in high school. Yeah.

Todd: What was that like?

Christian: I mean, I was 17 years at the time and I was leaving home for the first time and going abroad for a year without going home. And it was the first time to actually move out of my family and it was an intimidating experience, but at the same time, it was extremely enjoyable. I had a great time, traveled around, met a lot of great people, got introduced to the Maori culture and yeah, it was fascinating, really fascinating. Yeah.

Todd: What did you like the most about New Zealand?

Christian: The country itself, probably the nature and the wildlife. It's just so pure, so green. You've got the big mountains. You've got the fjords, the rivers. It's a great ecosystem. You can tell that it's non-polluted and it's just really nice. And if you appreciate - call it nature - you can walk around and just soak up the atmosphere. It's really good.

Todd: Yeah. What was the hardest thing about living so far from home?

Christian: The fact that I could only communicate with my family through faxes in the beginning because calling was a bit expensive and the circumstances didn't allow me to use a phone where I was living. So I had to use faxes and that is a bit strange.

Todd: Wow. So there was no email or internet?

Christian: Well, actually at the time email wasn't that much used in New Zealand. There was one computer in my school that had internet connection and I was allowed to use that because I was an exchange student. I was the only exchange student at my school. So they said, "Well, you can come in every now and then and use it." But I used it maybe once a week because I had never used email before, because this was back in '97. So it's like eight, seven, eight years ago. And I guess, well, in New Zealand they didn't really have that many connections. So yeah.

Todd: Great story.

Christian: It was truly great. Yeah.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

I mean

I mean, I was 17 years at the time.

This phrase, I mean, is often used to start a sentence to add focus to a statement. It is called a filler in English because it lets the listener know a statement is coming. Notice the following:

  1. Life in Italy was great. I mean, who wouldn't want to live there?
  2. I mean, I was just a student then.

soak up the atmosphere

You can walk around and just soak up the atmosphere.

When you soak up an atmosphere, you get great pleasure from being at a certain place and time. Notice the following.

  1. In college, I just soaked up the atmosphere there. I loved it.
  2. On vacation in Hawaii, we just soaked up the atmosphere.

the circumstances did not allow

And the circumstances didn't allow me to use a phone.

When the circumstances do not allow something, that means something cannot be done, usually because of a certain situation. Notice the following:

  1. I have family in Chicago, but the circumstances did not allow me to visit them on my business trip.
  2. My company has a gym, but because I am so busy, the circumstances do not allow me to use it.

a bit strange

I had to use faxes and that is a bit strange.

When something is a bit strange, that means it is unusual or uncommon. Notice the following:

  1. It was a bit strange dry clothes with a hair dryer but I did it.
  2. It is a bit strange to type a paper on a phone, but some kids do it.

every now and then

You can come in every now and then and use it.

When something happens every now and then, it happens occasionally or sometimes.

  1. I bring breakfast for my coworkers every now and then.
  2. I still play golf every now and then.

back in

This was back in '97.

Here, the phrase 'back in '97' just means something happened in 1997. Notice the following.

  1. Back in the 80's, I was still thin.
  2. This song was a huge hit back in 1977, 

Vocabulary Quiz

I mean • strange • soak up
every now • back
  1. I watch a foreign movie and then.
  2. The children loved to the atmosphere at the circus.
  3. Video games are not for me. , as a father, they are a waste of time.
  4. Corn on pizza seemed a bit at first, but I like it
  5. I had long hair in college.
Answer these questions about the interview.

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