to shadow – to repeat a word or sentence after hearing it said. Shadowing is a method used by language learners to improve their pronunciation and fluency.
colonialism – The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it, and exploiting it economically.
collect call (US)/reverse charge call (UK)
a chargeback – when a payment is declined and charged back to the retailer. In this episode, chargeback has the meaning of the person who received the call is charged, rather than the person who made the call.
scam – a crime where a victim is tricked into handing over money to a criminal usually by deception. E.g. the criminal pretends to be someone they are not.
phone scam – a type of crime where the criminal calls up the victim and tries to deceive the victim into sending money to him/her. Common scams include, criminals pretending to be long lost relatives, or representatives from the person’s bank, insurance agent or other public company.
phishing – A type of scam. Can also refer to email crimes – email phishing.
Salsa – A type of Latin American dance music incorporating elements of jazz and rock
Merengue – A Caribbean style of dance music, typically in duple and triple time.
forced migration – the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) which describes it as “A general term that refers to the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (those displaced by conflicts) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects.”
Mark: OK, Welcome to today’s podcast [episode] on the everydaylanguage.net website. In today’s podcast [episode], I’m talking to my wife Satoko about living abroad, and what it was like to study abroad.
Satoko: Yes, hello, hi,
Mark: Er, so can you just tell us a bit about what you did, and er, how long you’ve lived abroad, that kind of stuff.
Satoko: My first experience of studying abroad was in Mexico. When I was an undergraduate student, so I was more scary[ – scared] than excited when I started the life there because Latin America was known, for, dangerous, well crimes and lots of dangers, so uh, we as a group of Japanese, we were like 50 students, it was a governmental exchange scheme, every year, so Japanese students going to Mexico, er, instead Mexican students coming to Japan.
And I went to the second largest city Guadalajara, in Mexico, and yes, I didn’t think that I would have another opportunity to go study abroad, which happened to me actually, it was in the UK and Ireland.
So I thought that this was a life, you know, once in, in my life opportunity, so I thought, I should try my best, to maximise what I could get from my study abroad experience in Mexico,
So I went out with my friends as much as I can [could], but at the same time, I studied as much as I could. So I didn’t sleep much, in the morning I went to language school studied, and on the way back I went to the…University campus which was next to my, er the place where I lived, I was in, I was living in, er, how do you say?
With a Mexican family, so I went to the library alone and picked up major Mexican news and, er, copied headlines of newspapers, and translated it in English,
M: Right, ok.
S: So that way I thought I could learn what’s going on in Mexico as well as I could learn Spanish.
M: Oh yeah, yeah, that’s a good way.
S: Yeah, and then I also, how do you say? Shadowed? Popular, pop Mexican or Latin American music.
M: Yeah, so you sung? You sung along to them? Oh wow.
S: Yeah, I sung, yes (oh wow) it was nice because still now I remember some songs. (Yeah) Of that time, it was two thousand one, two, and then…
M: You learnt to sing many Spanish, many Mexican songs?
S: Mexican songs, Spanish songs, Colombian, you know Spanish is used in many countries in Latin America, (um), um, so lots of, actually, songs outside Mexico come in, (Yeah) you know you can enjoy it. This is the goo-, nice, nice part.
M: Like do you mean, er songs from er, do songs from actually Europe, like from Spain or?
S: Er, from Spain, from Spain, Colombia, Brazil not from Brazil. Much but other you know Spanish speaking countries.
M: Like is there a big divide between like, Latin American Spanish speaking countries and Spain?
S: I think it’s true, Mexican, well actually Spanish is very different by where you speak, where you study but Spanish spoken in Mexico, and Spanish spoken in, in Argentina, for instance, are very different, however it’s not as different as the difference between Latin American Spanish and Spanish in Spain.
S: So it’s a very big difference, and I think, what the people think about Spanish people and what Spanish people think about Latin American people are also, kind of, er, not always positive but sometimes negative, I think, because of the history of colonialism.
M: Um, yeah, ok, so oh before you went to Sp- er Mexico, how much did you…
S: Study Spanish? One year, because my second language that I took in University in Japan was Spanish. (Yeah) But I wasn’t very serious because I didn’t think that I would go to Mexico, (yeah) mm.
M: Yeah, so, like, when you actually got to Mexico, how was it? Could you actually communicate? Or?
S: No, I couldn’t communicate much, so people spoke to me, my host family spoke to me in English.
M: Mm ok,
S: But they were very nice and, and, and I learnt a lot, studied a lot, and by I think, by the tenth month of being there I became comfortable communicating with people in Eng- in Spanish.
M: Oh right, so that was two thousand and one? Two thousand?
S: Two thousand and one I think, I believe.
M: So like when you studied was it just like textbook and pen, pencil?
S: Textbook and pen and probably I had [an] electronic dictionary.
M: Yeah, you didn’t have like, because nowadays, I’m quite into all these apps and like using programs,
S: Yeah we didn’t have that, and imagine that I was in Mexico so I, well I don’t necessarily, it doesn’t mean that Mexico has [a] lower quality of technology, but I think I just used phone without, it’s, it’s very, very different from today’s smartphone.
M: Simple phone?
S: Simple phone and internet only when you were in language school where you sit, it wasn’t on mobile, and when I wanted to call to my parents I used just public phone in the street (yeah) and it was very, very, expensive (right) because there was-I didn’t have Skype and first time, well first couple of times when I called my mum and dad, I used how do you say collect call?
M: Collect call so they, you charged it back to…
S: Charged it back to, you know people who receive the call and my parents still say to me that they were very surprised when they got [the] invoice, ‘cos it was like, over two hundred, three hundred pounds. (Oh no) For, for the conversation of 10 minutes or like half an hour.
M: That much?
S: Yeah that much, and I was the first person in my family who stayed relatively long period overseas. So my parents were not experienced and didn’t know, what could happen when we have [an] international call.
M: Sounds like that 俺 (ore)thing. You know like that phone scam.
S: Yeah, yeah 俺 (ore)、俺 (ore) yeah phishing, yes.
M: We can talk about that next time.
S: Um, yes, let’s talk about that sounds interesting.
M: K so, a year in Spain learning Spanish, then at the end you could, after ten months you could talk to people and communicate?
S: Yeah, of course, I think Mexican people spoke to me very slowly, using basic vocabulary but I could I think understand and I could survive there. So I enjoyed food and I enjoyed dancing, clubs so it was nice.
M: Mexican Salsa?
S: Mexican Salsa as well.
M: Is it Salsa? What kind of dance is it?
S: Ah, Salsa is, very, how…it’s, it’s a basically a Salsa or Latin America dance is different from Japan or Asian dancing, and I think probably British, dancing you use your waist, (hips) hips very, er, (hips don’t lie) yeah, yeah, hips don’t lie, yeah if you know Shakira that is the Latin American dance, and I was very fascinated.
M: You still are aren’t you? Like you always tell me about her.
S: Yeah, yeah, I still listen to the music and I watch YouTube videos of Salsa and Latin American pop music because I think Latin American music, has been, well lots of artists are inspired by traditional Latin American you know, rhythm and Salsa, Merengue, that kind of things.
M: That’s a good name isn’t it?
S: Yeah, so very nice, so I feel tired at work I listen to it while eating and mm, feel more,
M: And feel refreshed.
S: Yeah, refreshed and more energised and in the end, I’m spending more than one hour, hahaha.
M: That sounds good, are you comfortable?
S: Yeah, I’m very comfortable.
M: Sure you don’t want this pillow?
S: No, no I’m fine.
M: Ok, oh ok, so, that was a year, and then what was next?
S: I studied English because next opportunity of study abroad was in, in the UK, as a postgraduate student so it was more serious because I was more, I was clearer about what I wanted to study. And yes I went to Oxford for nine months actually, to study migration, because one of, one of my, my well, one of the inspirations I got from my life in Mexico was human movement across national borders, from South, Latin American world to North, which is the United States of America, made me think a lot about people who have to move, to feed their families, or for better opportunities or for lots of reasons.
So I thought that I wanted to study more about it. And yes, I went, I moved to the UK and I, the major I took was forced migration. It’s about refugees and…
M: People who don’t have a choice.
S: Yeah, people who don’t have a choice because of war. You know for lots of reasons.
M: Because you’re quite passionate aren’t you? About that,
S: Yeah, yeah I was, I was passionate, I’ve been, I’ve been so I think, and I was also… it was my dream to study in English speaking countries and if I have a choice either, well among English speaking countries, UK was among the top, so I was happy, I got it.
M: And then what was hard about, I’ll ask you what’s hard about living in–English from the UK?
S: Hard, hard thing, hard part?
M: Yeah about the actual language, like did you have any?
M: Yeah, language stuff, English language when you were in the UK.
S: Oh yes, first of all I had to get used to British language, British English, because in Japan I was basically learning American English so I was shadowing CNN you know, newscasters English and then I noticed that I, it’s different, really different not like ‘but’, so say “but”, “but”, “but” the pronunciation of all these simple terms is different from all the American ones, but also my fundamental challenges with English studying is that I can’t very much pronounce T H (T H really?) th- sounds and R and L.
M: You’re quite good now I think.
S: I hope so, but it’s a kind of trauma for me, I can’t, you know, I can’t, tell the difference between L and R sounds I can’t hear the difference, therefore, I can’t speak in a different way.
M: You’ll have to go back to school then. Like, have extra, extra class.
S: Yes, I have to, haha, yes I think lots of Japanese suffer from it(definitely) and I was, I was one definitely, and also, I think trying to speak naturally ha-made me speak more unnaturally.
M: Yeah, you became conscious?
S: Yeah, conscious, trying to speak grammatically correct as well as pronouncing well, and intonation fine, like British people all this you know, must thing, was in my brain and you know it was overwhelming, (you got stressed), got stressed I don’t want, I don’t want to speak in English!
But still, I enjoyed the life there, It’s very nice, mm.
M: You recommend it?
S: Yeah, I recommend it, definitely I recommend studying in the UK, for students who want to study English, and also who want to study basically any subject, yeah [the] UK has a very high quality of higher education.
That’s it for today’s podcast.
If you have any questions about studying abroad or anything we talked about, please leave a comment in the comments section on the website. Thanks.
Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash