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0904 Working Overseas

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 904: Working Overseas.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 904. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to ESLPod.com and become a member of this podcast. If you do, you can download a Learning Guide for this and all of our current episodes.

This episode is a dialog about someone who will be taking the job in another country. Let's get started.

[start of dialog]

Danielle: I’m so excited! I just got my new posting overseas. I can’t wait to live abroad and work as an expat.

Angus: I remember my first overseas assignment. It was interesting, but the adjustment took some time.

Danielle: I won’t have any problems. I already have my work permit and vaccinations, and I speak the language fairly well. And remember, I don’t have any family to relocate.

Angus: I didn’t think I’d have any problems either, but when I got to McQuillanland, I was in culture shock.

Danielle: I’m ready for the differences in the cost of living. I’ll be getting a housing allowance, which will offset the increase in living expenses.

Angus: I wasn’t thinking so much about the expense of living abroad. I was referring to a different pace of life and the many cultural differences that affect every facet of life.

Danielle: That’s what I’m looking forward to. It’ll all be so exciting.

Angus: I’m glad you’re in euphoria right now, but be prepared for some bumps in the road.

Danielle: No problem. To me, smooth sailing would be boring!

[end of dialog]

Our dialog begins with Danielle saying to Angus, “I'm so excited. I just got my new posting overseas.” The word “posting” (posting) is used for people who work in jobs that frequently require moving from one place to another. A large company, for example, might have offices in many different countries. So, a manager might have a posting in one country and then a posting in another country. It's not normally used for jobs that don't require you to move to different places, either within a country or to another country. So, for example, a schoolteacher probably wouldn't refer to his or her new job as a “posting” because it doesn't involve traveling to different parts of the world or of the country.

But Danielle obviously works for a company that requires her to move frequently, and her new posting is overseas. “Overseas” (overseas) means in another country. A “sea” (sea) is an ocean. “Overseas” would be over or across an ocean. Now technically, a job would be overseas, if you lived in the United States, if that job were in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and so forth – anything that would require you to travel over an ocean in order to get there. Hawaii is part of the United States. So, you wouldn't be traveling overseas if you were working in Hawaii. Overseas always refers to a foreign country, another country not your own. Now, many people use overseas to mean the same as the next word in our dialogue which is “abroad.”

Danielle says, “I can't wait to live abroad.” “Abroad” always means in another country. “Overseas” means in another country, or it can mean specifically, in another country that is not connected to, in this case, the United States. So, if you were working in Canada or Mexico, you might not say that I'm working overseas. You might say “I'm working abroad,” but it's perfectly acceptable to use overseas, even when you don't actually have to travel over an ocean.

Danielle says that she can't wait to live abroad, meaning she's very excited about living abroad. She's also excited about working as an expat. An “expat” (expat) is short for “expatriate” (expatriate). An expatriate is a person who lives in a foreign country, who lives in another country, not his own. So, if you move to the United States from another country and work here, you would be considered an expat. If I go to Mexico to teach English, I would be called an ex-pat.

Angus says, “I remember my first overseas assignment.” An “assignment” is the same as a posting. “It was interesting, but the adjustment took some time.” “Adjustment” is when you have to change your behavior to adapt to a new situation, or a new environment. When you move to a different country, there are many things that are new and so there is a period or a time of adjustment.

Danielle says, “I won't have any problems. I already have my work permit” – her permission from the government of this foreign country to work there – “and vaccinations.” “Vaccinations” are injections that you get from the doctor to protect you against some diseases that might be present in a foreign country that is not present in your own country.

Danielle says, “I speak the language fairly well,” meaning pretty well, very well but not perfectly. “And remember,” she says, “I don't have any family to relocate.” “To relocate” means to move from one place to another, to leave your home or apartment and move to a completely different, usually, town or state, or in this case, country. You may know that the prefix “re” means again. So, “relocate” means in a way to find yourself again in another place, to move yourself to another place.

Angus says, “I didn't think I'd” – I would – “have any problems either, but when I got to McQuillanland” – the new country – “I was in culture shock.” “Culture shock” is a feeling of confusion, of unhappiness, that often happens when you move to a new place, when you move to a new country. Usually, when you move to somewhere for the first time and you want to go there, you’re very happy during the first, maybe month, two months, maybe even six months that you're there. We sometimes call that situation, that condition, “euphoria.” (euphoria). After this period of euphoria, however, usually you go through another part of your adjustment which is culture shock.

“Culture shock” is when you feel like you're confused or you're angry, or you don't really understand and like the new place that you're living. This happens to everyone that I've ever met who's lived in another country, including myself. At first, everything is great but then you go through a period where things are very difficult. You look around and you say, “I'm not like these people here.” This happens even when you move to a different part of your country.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I went through culture shock after the first year or so of living here. If you are able to survive that stage, that period of culture shock, things will get better, and you'll have a more realistic, balanced view of the place where you live after perhaps, a year or two, but sometimes culture shock can be so serious that it causes people to move back to where they came from.

Angus says he went through culture shock when he moved to McQuillanland. Danielle says, “I'm ready for the differences in the cost of living.” The “cost of living” is how much it costs you to live in a certain place, how much the food is, how much the rent is, and so forth. All of those are part of the cost of living. In some countries, the cost of living is much higher than in other countries. In some cities like Los Angeles, the cost of living is much higher than in other cities.

Danielle says that she'll be getting a housing allowance. A “housing allowance” is money that a company gives you to pay for the rent of your house, or apartment when you are working in a different city or a different country. Danielle says the housing allowance will “offset” the increase in “living expenses.”

“To offset” (offset) means to have the opposite effect. In this case, even though the cost of living will be higher, the housing allowance will pay for that. It will counteract, we might say, that. It will offset it. It will balance it. She says the housing allowance will offset the increase in living expenses. “Living expenses” is basically the same as cost of living – what it costs you to rent your apartment, to drive your car, to buy your food and so forth. Angus says, “I wasn't thinking so much about the expense” – the money required – “of living abroad. I was referring to a different pace of life.” “Pace” (pace) is like speed. “Pace of life” would be how rushed people are, how relaxed people are. The pace of life in New York and Los Angeles is much faster than the pace of life in Honolulu, Hawaii, or in a small town in Minnesota. That's “pace of life.”

Angus says, “There are many cultural differences that affect every facet of life.” “Facet” (facet) means part or feature. Danielle says, “That's what I'm looking forward to. It'll all be so exciting.” It will all be very exciting.

Angus says, “I'm glad you're in euphoria right now” – we explained euphoria a few minutes ago – “ but be prepared for some bumps in the road.” “Bumps in the road” is an expression meaning difficulties or challenges that you will have to face on your way to reaching your goal, on the way to your destination. There’ll be bumps in the road. Literally, “bumps” are where the earth of the road goes up a little higher and it causes your car to bounce a little bit as you go over the bump. “Bumps in the road,” however, is an expression meaning difficulties in obtaining or achieving your goal.

Danielle says, “No problem. To me, smooth sailing would be boring.” Danielle is not worried about difficulties or bumps in the road. She thinks that the opposite of that would be boring. The opposite expression for bumps in the road is, in a way, “smooth sailing.” “Smooth sailing” means you don't have any problems. You are able to reach your goal without having any difficulties. “Sailing” is when you go out in a boat and you let the power of the wind move the boat back and forth. “Smooth” is the opposite of rough or in this case, difficult. “Smooth sailing” is not having any difficulties.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

Danielle: I’m so excited! I just got my new posting overseas. I can’t wait to live abroad and work as an expat.

Angus: I remember my first overseas assignment. It was interesting, but the adjustment took some time.

Danielle: I won’t have any problems. I already have my work permit and vaccinations, and I speak the language fairly well. And remember, I don’t have any family to relocate.

Angus: I didn’t think I’d have any problems either, but when I got to McQuillanland, I was in culture shock.

Danielle: I’m ready for the differences in the cost of living. I’ll be getting a housing allowance, which will offset the increase in living expenses.

Angus: I wasn’t thinking so much about the expense of living abroad. I was referring to a different pace of life and the many cultural differences that affect every facet of life.

Danielle: That’s what I’m looking forward to. It’ll all be so exciting.

Angus: I’m glad you’re in euphoria right now, but be prepared for some bumps in the road.

Danielle: No problem. To me, smooth sailing would be boring!

[end of dialog]

We hope our scriptwriter never gets a posting overseas. We want right here in Los Angeles, writing our wonderful scripts. I speak of course, of our own Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
posting – a job; a position that one has been assigned to work in, especially for a defined period of times

* When will the consulate announce the new postings?

overseas – in another country; in a foreign country

* Some college students study overseas for one semester or one year to improve their language skills.

abroad – in or to another country

* Have you ever traveled abroad?

expat – expatriate; a person who lives in a foreign country; a person who chooses to live in a country other than the one where he or she was born/raised

* When you lived in Namibia, did you spend a lot of time with the locals, or did you mostly spend time with other expats?

adjustment – the process of adapting to a new environment or new conditions, especially when beginning to live in another country or culture

* The adjustment to different types of foods was one of the most challenging parts of living overseas.

work permit – official, legal permission to work in another country and receive money for one’s work

* How many work permits does the country issue to non-citizens each year?

vaccination – an injection that provides protection against getting a very dangerous disease, like polio or mumps

* The Center for Disease Control recommends that babies get a vaccination against Hepatitis B at birth.

to relocate – to move to a new place with plans to live and/or work there

* Chelsea grew up in New York, but decided to relocate to California after college.

culture shock – the feeling of confusion and unhappiness that happens when one has spent a period of time in another country and is having difficulty adapting to a different culture, lifestyle, and values

* When people move overseas, they often love everything for the first few days, but then they experience culture shock for a few months.

cost of living – the average total cost of the normal items one buys in a certain city or area, especially for housing, food, and transportation

* The cost of living is generally higher in big cities than in rural areas.

housing allowance – money paid to an individual by an employer to help that person pay for a place to live, especially in another country, in addition to what that person normally earns for his or her work

* If the company didn’t give me a housing allowance, there would be no way I’d be able to live here on my regular salary.

offset – counterbalance; counteract; have an opposite impact or effect

* You’re going to have to do a lot of exercise to offset all the calories in that cake!

living expenses – the costs needed to provide a normal or basic standard of living, especially for housing, food, and transportation

* When you’re comparing the cost of different colleges, don’t forget to include living expenses in your budget.

pace of life – a description of how rushed, stressed, worried, and anxious people are in a particular place

* Quentin spend 35 years as an attorney in Chicago, and when he retired, he decided he wanted a slower pace of life, so he bought a house in Nebraska.

facet – aspect; part; feature; characteristic

* Have you considered all the facets of the issue before making a decision?

euphoria – an overwhelming feeling of extreme happiness and excitement

* Falling in love gave Karen a sense of euphoria.

bumps in the road – challenges or obstacles that make it more difficult for one to reach a goal and/or that slow one down

* We had several bumps in the road the first year we were in business, but now, 10 years later, everything is stable and predictable.

smooth sailing – progress without any problems, challenges, obstacles, or disruptions; a process that is advancing well and as planned

* No matter how much you plan and prepare, there’s no guarantee that the conference will be smooth sailing.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Danielle mean when she says, “I’ll be getting a housing allowance”?
a) Her company will find housing for her.
b) Her company will establish the minimum and maximum housing prices.
c) Her company will give her money to help pay for housing.

2. What does Danielle mean when she says, “Smooth sailing would be boring”?
a) She doesn’t like to spend time in a boat.
b) She is looking forward to dealing with challenges.
c) She thinks Angus should go with her.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
adjustment

The word “adjustment,” in this podcast, means the process of adapting to a new environment or new conditions, especially when beginning to live in another country or culture: “Learning to make eye contact with everyone was a difficult adjustment when Yukiko first moved to the United States.” An “adjustment” can also be a change in someone’s behavior or thoughts: “He needs an attitude adjustment.” Or, “The merger marked a period of adjustment for all the employees.” When talking about finances, an “adjustment” is a credit or debit used to make something match: “At the end of the month, the bookkeeper makes small adjustments so that the accounts are correct.” Finally, an “adjustment” can be a small repair or a small change to the settings of a machine: “If we make a small adjustment in the treble and bass, this song will sound so much better.”

pace of life

In this podcast, the phrase “pace of life” describes how rushed, stressed, worried, and anxious people are: “Many young people enjoy the faster pace of life in cities, but then they want to slow down as they get older.” The phrase “at breakneck pace” means very quickly, almost out of control: “Everyone is working at breakneck pace to meet the client’s deadline.” The phrase “at a snail’s pace” has the opposite meaning and is used to mean very slowly: “Traffic is moving at a snail’s pace, so I’ll arrive late.” Finally, the phrase “at (one’s) own pace” means at the speed one prefers, without worrying about how quickly others are doing something: “Sam was a great boss, because he let us work at our own pace as long as we were able to show progress.”

Culture Note
Relocation Services

International companies and large agencies that have many employees working overseas often offer “relocation services” to their employees to “facilitate” (make easier) their “transition” (change from one situation to another). Sometimes the relocation services are provided by the company or agency itself, but in other cases they are “contracted out to” (performed by) a “third party” (outside; not part of the company) business that specializes in relocation. In some cases, relocation services are provided for “cross-country moves” (moving across the United States) too, not just for international moves.

Relocation services are similar to “moving services” “in that” (because; for example) they make arrangements to move physical “possessions” (things one owns) to a new location. However, relocation services include many additional services. For example, they might help the employee “obtain” (get) the “requisite” (required; necessary) work permit and “visa” (legal permission to live in another country for a period of time). They might also help the employee find a new home and a new school for children. In some cases, relocation services include assistance for helping the employee’s “spouse” (husband or wife) find a job in the new location. Relocation services can also include language-learning resources and/or a “tutor” (someone who teachers one student or a small group of students) and cultural “outings” (trips; adventures; visits to important sites).

These relocation services are “quite” (very) expensive. In many cases, companies “find” (discover; realize) that employees in overseas position “end up” (ultimately) costing the company two or three times as much as their “counterparts” (people performing the same job or a similar job) in the United States, simply because the company has to provide so much assistance with relocation.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b