Views #1247 | Intermediate (B2)

Work from Abroad

Todd and Julia discuss the possibility now that people can work online from anywhere in the world.

Julia: OK, so we've talked about freelancing your skills and living and working abroad. Have you ever done that? Have you ever lived and worked in a...

Todd: Like digitally, just like a kind of nomad?

Julia: Yeah.

Todd: Yeah, I did. I did it for a year. I was actually a nomad. I lived in five different countries and I did all my work online. I mainly was just doing web stuff but it was an interesting experience. I mean I had never, I thought it would be the perfect life and when I told people what I was going to do, everybody said that's amazing. You know, I mean basically I said that I was gonna just travel the world and I would just work from whatever city I was in. I would choose my own itinerary and my own destination and I would work when I wanted to and, yeah, I did it for ten months.

Julia: And then why did you quit?

Todd: Well, I think you referenced it earlier. It actually became incredibly lonely. I was surprised how lonely I became. I would meet people but you would always meet people as a tourist and you didn't have family and you didn't have your social network. You didn't have people that you would see every day at work.

Julia: No workmates?

Todd: Right. You got no workmates, no-one to go out and have a drink with and after a while you really crave like social interaction and not always being the stranger, not always being the new person, like people that know your name and yeah, so after a while I gave it up. I remember the big thing that changed is one day I was in my hotel room, actually it was a little apartment, and I realised I had nowhere to go, I had no-one to see and I can go anywhere in the world. I had complete freedom. I could go to the airport and buy a ticket to Paris and go to Paris that day or I can go to Buenos Aires or Sydney. I could have gone anywhere in the world. There was nothing to stop me. No schedule, no appointments, no-one to report to and it was actually kind of frightening. Like it was almost paralyzing.

Julia: It's like standing on the edge of an abyss looking down.

Todd: It was. It was like, you know, I realized I wanted normalcy again. I wanted to have a schedule. I wanted to, you know, have the norm that I had before so I went back to teaching at university and now in my university job I have a lot of time to travel in between but just living around the world going from place to place, yeah, it wasn't so great.

Julia: Well, I think it's great that you had the chance to explore this option. I'm sure everyone would benefit maybe from trying it and then working out what it is they really value because I'm sure we all think wow freedom, absolute freedom, isn't that like the ultimate goal but then when you have it, you realize well actually no, some of those constraints that I had were quite good.

Todd: Right.

Julia: They gave me a sense of being or they give structure to my life or meaning to my life.

Todd: Totally, totally and actually now that I've done it, I would do it again. I would know how to do it right. I would do it different than I did it before so, yeah, I learned. I'm not saying it's not worth it, I'm just saying it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Julia: No, and I guess ten months is a long time maybe that's the only thing, enough of a...

Todd: Exactly.

Julia: But it sounds cool though. I can see the attraction definitely.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson



For a year I was actually a nomad.

A 'nomad' is a person who has no permanent place to live and travels from one place to another with all of his things. Notice the following:

  1. After being a nomad for the past few years, it will be nice to finally unpack my suitcases.
  2. Life as a nomad can be really exciting sometimes and exhausting others.



I would choose my own itinerary and my destination.

An 'itinerary' is a detailed plan for a trip. Notice the following:

  1. What is your travel itinerary?
  2. Please send me a copy of your itinerary, so I know when to pick you up.



After a while, you really crave social interaction.

You 'crave' something when you really want it. Notice the following:

  1. After a few days with her, you'll be craving silence.
  2. I am really craving pizza right now.

report to


I had no one to report to and no schedule.

You usually 'report to' someone, like a boss, and tell him what you have been working on. Notice the following:

  1. While you are traveling, we expect you to report to us at least twice a week.
  2. He has so many bosses that he never knows who to report to.



Total freedom was actually almost paralyzing.

When something is 'paralyzing,' it makes you feel like you cannot move or act. Notice the following:

  1. Rock climbing would be a very paralyzing sport for me.
  2. I would be paralyzed with fear in a situation like that.



It was like standing on the edge of an abyss and looking down.

An 'abyss' is like a very deep canyon, where you cannot see the bottom. Notice the following:

  1. Falling off the trail here would mean tumbling into an abyss.
  2. His house sits on the edge of an abyss.



I finally realized that I wanted normalcy again.

'Normalcy' is a general feeling of being normal and having a normal routine. Notice the following:

  1. There has been so much going on for me at home that it will be really nice to finally have some normalcy.
  2. One of the best ways to create a schedule for a newborn is to have normalcy in your life.



Everyone would benefit from trying it and working out what they really value.

What you 'value' is what is important to you. Notice the following:

  1. He values money too much.
  2. Traveling will help you see how much you really value your family.

not all it's cracked up to be


I'm not saying it's not worth it; it's just not all it's cracked up to be.

When something is 'not all it's cracked up to be,' it doesn't live up to your expectations. It's not what you expected, and you are disappointed. Notice the following:

  1. He was very excited when he got his new job, but he soon found out it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
  2. Living in tropical areas isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Vocabulary Quiz

nomad • itinerary • crave
paralyzing • abyss • report  
normalcy • value • cracked
  1. Growing up in a big family made her her alone time.
  2. Finding out that his father had died was almost for him.
  3. He says that traveling for work is not all it's up to be, but I think it would be fun.
  4. The is so deep that you can't see the bottom.
  5. He spent a few months as a after graduation, just traveling around and visiting friends.
  6. People from cities usually action.
  7. This job is always changing. There is no .
  8. There are five employees that to her.
  9. I didn't read the very closely, and I thought we were going to the other airport terminal.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Try These Lessons

1249 Life on the Road
1250 Childhood Memories
Daniel shares memories of Chile.
1249 Life on the Road
1249 Life on the Road
Todd talks about his time as a digital nomad.

1248 Work on the Go
1248 Work on the Go
Todd talks about his life on the road.

1247 Work from Abroad
1247 Work from Abroad
Todd and Julia discuss working online.

1150 Urban Plannning
1246 Outsource on the Small
How things can be outsourced.
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About the Teacher / Creator

Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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