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06. Alexia’s story: Far away and fearless

Podcast para aprender inglés. La historia de Alexia

Into the Story


Podcast para aprender inglés. La historia de Alexia

Episode 6: Alexia's Story: Far-away and Fearless

Nivel de inglés: intermedio a intermedio alto
Acento: inglés sudafricano

Esta semana, Alexia nos relata el momento en que bajó del avión y empezó su nueva vida como profesora de inglés en Tailandia. Aprendemos cómo utilizó su tiempo en el sudeste asiático para curar viejas heridas, sumergirse en la cultura tailandesa y aprender que la vida es más que plazos, acuerdos y negocios.

Si quieres leer más sobre las aventuras de viaje de Alexia puedes visitar su web:

Bree: Glamorous industry parties, getting paid to attend A-list social events – this was the life that our guest, Alexia, used to have working in South Africa’s television industry. From the outside, her life looked successful and enviable but the truth was that Alexia daydreamt of adventure beyond her concrete office walls. 


In today’s story, Alexia tells us about the time she grabbed her backpack and moved across the world to Thailand, a country she had never been to and a culture she knew nothing about to begin teaching English, a job that she had never done before! You’ll hear Alexia talk about how this experience helped her to heal from her past unhappiness and taught her to approach life with self-compassion and courage. We’re calling this story ‘Far away and Fearless’.


Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Alexia say:

  1. to seep into – Alexia uses this phrasal verb as a metaphor to describe how her unhappiness at work started to affect her personal life. To seep into literally means a slow flow of water leaking out of something like a cracked pipe. To seep into.  

  2. despondent – this adjective refers to feeling sad or without hope. For example, you could say, after many months of searching, I started to feel despondent about finding a new job.

  3. a breaking point – a breaking point is an expression that we use to talk about a peak moment of stress or tension. For example, Alexia speaks about her breaking point as being the moment she decided to quit her job and move to Thailand.

  4. point-blank – this expression is used as an adjective to describe the way that someone speaks to you as being very direct and without explanation. For example, you could say that ‘the reporter asked the politician a question ‘point-blank’’’

  5. comfort zone – this expression describes a situation where you feel safe or relaxed. On the other hand to step outside of your comfort zone means to take a risk and try something new. For example you could say, ‘this job is challenging, it pushes me outside of my comfort zone each day!’


If you need more help with understanding Alexia’s story, remember for each episode, you can get a full vocabulary list and listening comprehension activities on our website, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto com. OK let’s get into the story…

Alexia: The year was 2016, I think I was working in the entertainment industry for a television station in South Africa and I worked in the publicity department for a few years and then I worked in the marketing department for a few years and my job basically entailed trying to get publicity and word-of-mouth for the various TV shows that were on this platform.  And from the outside looking in, it seemed really glamorous. I was constantly going to all these different industries and constantly socializing and seemed happy. It seemed like a good job. But the reality is that I was dealing with really big egos. I was dealing with insane deadlines. I was dealing with a lot of pressure to perform without the real recognition and it was just really, it was really impacting me. I was reaching the point where being unhappy at work was seeping into every aspect of my life. 


A few people had mentioned to me that teaching English overseas was a good option for someone who was looking to travel and earn money at the same time which is kind of what I was looking to do. I hadn’t traveled much before and I was really curious about the world and the possibilities of exploring. I ended up looking at Thailand. So looking and speaking to people who had been there before. Everyone had said to me that Thailand was a beautiful country, a peaceful country with good people. And the more I heard about this country the more I realized that it sounded like the place where I could heal from a lot of the things that had happened in my life that had reached a breaking point. So I remember sitting in my apartment the one day and looking at budgets and looking at this pamphlet to go and teach in Asia, in this country I had never been to and knew nothing about really. Some people just thought that I was point-blank crazy. Like how can you just leave everything and move to a place you’ve never been to before. the more people said that to me the more excited I got! And I just made the decision there and then and I said, ‘I’m going to do this!’.


I remember getting to the airport and getting my luggage and just thinking, ‘this is crazy’ and I remember leaving the airport and the very first thing that hit me was the humidity. I’m talking intense, insane humidity when the doors open at the airport and I walked out of there and I was like, ‘dear Lord!’. I had no idea how humid and hot this country is.


I hadn’t been exposed to Thai culture and Buddhism really. So coming to Thailand, it was just absolutely everything that you can imagine, I had to rewire in my brain. So the greetings for instance and learning how to ‘wai’ which is the Thai greeting which is like palms together and you bend a bit forward. Knowing to do that and knowing who to do that to and who not to do that to. So you greet people who are older than you that way but not people that are younger than you. You’re not supposed to show anyone the bottom of your feet in any situation because in Buddhist culture it is seen as disrespectful because your feet are considered dirty. Avoiding touching the tops of people’s heads because that is seen as disrespectful because they believe that enlightenment comes through your head basically and if you touch anyone’s head you’re interrupting the flow of energy. Not really being so bold in your opinions and statements in a public setting. It’s very much a collective, a collective ideology, thinking about the collective before thinking about the individual. And coming from a country, where that isn’t really something that’s ingrained in the culture. It was really hard to be a little bit less selfish and think about other people more than myself I think.


The thing that keeps on coming back to mind is just the acts of kindness that I experienced in Thailand. From complete strangers on a continuous basis. It would be anything from being on a really long bus ride and, all of a sudden, the old lady sitting next to you will give you something to eat and something to drink just because she thinks you look hungry. There was no expectation of what am I getting from this or, ‘hey you owe me’ it was just kindness as part of culture which I think was the biggest cultural shock for me.


It wasn’t always like rainbows and butterflies. There were definitely moments of like, ‘what am I doing? This is hard but I think it’s important for us just to find opportunity wherever it is. And I think there is always opportunity, if you look hard enough. There’s always opportunity to learn and grow but you’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 


I remember when I moved to my placement town, It was the town of Tak which was basically 80 km from the border of Myanmar up in the north of Thailand, up in the mountains. It was a really small town and when I first moved there I was a little bit depressed because I had to leave my previous placement and I had to leave my friends so I was a little bit sad and working through this process. I remember moving to my apartment and I had the river the Ping River right across the road for me and I would go and sit there at sunset whenever I could with a book or a notepad and a pen and really just try and really heal. And just try and kind of be grateful for what my life had become.


Once I had kind of settled in I found this really beautiful National Park that wasn’t too far away and I would jump on my bike on the weekends, whenever I had a free moment, and would ride to this national park and would do a short little hike up to the top of this waterfall and I had this spot which was always quiet by this really really beautiful little waterfall, little cascade, and I would just sit there in nature and just be so happy, so happy and so content with what I had in my life and I did not have much. I mean I went from this really flashy seeming job earning much more money back in South Africa than I was in Thailand. Materially speaking I had a lot more in South Africa but in Thailand kind of letting go of all of those materialistic things and really living such a basic life. I was so so happy and often sitting there at the waterfall I would often think to myself, ‘wow this is what life is supposed to be.’


I’m currently living in Barcelona and very happy with the life that I’ve established for myself here. I’m currently teaching English. But if I’m honest with myself there are things that I’ve wanted to pursue for so many years that maybe I thought, you know, that I’m not talented enough or not good enough to do. So I’m trying to find the time and the patience with myself to maybe develop some story ideas to do some writing. I’m focusing more on poetry which is a big love of mine and maybe just trying to push myself into… I don’t know exploring these aspects of myself and doing things like this podcast which is very much out of my comfort zone! But just this continuous thing of like… Hey! This fearless girl that lived in Thailand and did all these crazy things and travelled around Southeast Asia on her own with a backpack. Everyday we should be trying to do something that helps us grow. So I think that’s where I’m at at the moment, just taking a little look at my life, at the moment and seeing if it’s time to push some boundaries again. 

Bree: That’s all for today! Si te ha gustado la historia de Alexia y quieres seguir escuchando más episodios de nuestro podcast, puedes visitar nuestra pagina web, donde tendrás todos los episodios de Into the Story. También encontrarás algunas actividades y materiales de cada episodio para ayudarte mejorar tu inglés. Thank you for listening, until next time we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell. 

Quote of this episode

"I think there is always opportunity, if you look hard enough. There’s always opportunity to learn and grow but you've got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. "


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05. Dan’s story: Going home, getting lost


Into the Story



Episode 5: Dan's Story: Going Home, Getting Lost

Nivel de inglés: intermedio a intermedio alto
Acento: inglés de gales

Esta semana en nuestro podcast para aprender inglés presentamos una historia sobre dejar ir las expectativas y aprender que la felicidad se puede encontrar en lugares inesperados. Dan comparte sus ideas sobre el choque cultural y una serie de catastróficas desdichas que lo llevaron a abandonar el Reino Unido por segunda vez y regresar a Barcelona.


Bree: What does it mean to be a grown-up? What does it mean to be responsible, mature and successful? After years of living carefree in Barcelona, our storyteller, Dan, returned home to the UK believing that he needed to grow up, find a sensible office job, and learn the answer to these questions. 


In today’s story, Dan explains how he struggled through weed-pulling, wet weather and wearing a suit only to discover that happiness and success were not what he thought they were. We’ll hear about the moment that Dan finds himself homeless, jobless and covered in bird poop and how it was here, alone in the middle of London, that he realises the importance of self-honesty and understanding the value of failure. We’re calling this story, ‘Going home, Getting lost’. 


Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Dan say:

  1. to take a backseat – Dan uses this expression to talk about his career goals. It means to give less priority or give up trying to control something – soltar la responsabilidad o el control. For example, my job takes a backseat during the summer months. To take a backseat. 

  2. to run away from – Dan uses a lot of phrasal verbs in his story today and this is one of them. To run away from means to avoid or escape from something, somewhere or someone. You’ll hear Dan talk about running away from his problems. To run away from. 

  3. the highlands – is the name for the mountain areas of Scotland. 

  4. to go sideways – Dan uses this expression ‘to go sideways’ to describe a situation that goes wrong. For example you could say, ‘our holiday went sideways after we lost our passport’. To go sideways.

  5. finally, to come full circle – Another expression that Dan uses to describe returning to his original position. In his case, to come full circle meant returning to live in Barcelona again. 


If you need more help with understanding Dan’s story, remember for each episode, you can get a full vocabulary list and listening comprehension activities on our website, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto com. OK let’s get into the story…

Dan: I grew up in North Wales which is, I suppose, for reference it’s quite close to Liverpool. You kinda have the best of a lot of different things so you have the countryside. There’s fresh air, there are parks, there are castles, there are lakes. There are all these beautiful things but you still relatively close to Liverpool or Manchester. It’s pretty much rural. To a certain point it’s great but then when you become a teenager it’s a nightmare because there’s nothing to do.


So I moved to Barcelona when I was. How old was I? I was in my thirties for sure and I wish I’d done it sooner. I think basically I was living in Barcelona and I would say that I fell at home straight away. Everything just made sense. I was living quite a carefree life. I was doing certain jobs but I wasn’t really concerned about a career goal so I was just enjoying being in a hot climate, going cycling, being with friends. Any kind of practical considerations would took a backseat, really. 


At this point, I’d say the same amount of money and I thought alright I’m going to go back home to the UK because I was very conscious of this feeling that maybe I wasn’t being very serious. Or that maybe that I had moved to another different country to run away from my problems or run away from myself. So I wants to make sure that I had moved to a different country for the right reasons – that it was to go forward rather than to go sideways. The idea was, okay, I’m going to spend two months three months maximum and then go back to Barcelona.


 So I get to see UK and the first thing that happens is reverse culture shock which is a very strange experience, quite weird because you have this idea that your identity is so tied up with where you from and this is where your family and somehow that’s where you belong. But yeah I was, I was freaked out. I was like what I don’t understand what this place is. Pretty much whatever could go wrong did go wrong. But I kinda ignored all these signs, all these signals and just kept going blindly like trying to prove something. I don’t know what I was trying to prove. 


I was staying with a relative and then I actually went to the highlands of Scotland for a few months to do some conservation volunteer work which was just weird beyond all imagining because it was like okay one minute I’m in Barcelona and the next minute I’m in the highlands of Scotland standing in a river pulling out some sort of plants. So the conservation work was about invasive species. So all these kind of gardeners in the Victorian times planted all these exotic India but they actually they destroy the native plants so we had to go and pull them up basically. Gardening, gardening with a purpose. 


And then from there I moved to Mid Wales. To another small place where I had a job working for a fashion label called Laura Ashley. So I worked in their customer service department. I lived in this small little place and where I worked was 15 miles away. There were no buses, no trains so I had to ride my bike to this job. At one point it rained solid, every day, for two weeks. So whatever you hear about the UK or Wales is true. Okay? Okay sometimes it rains for 2 weeks without stop. So I would ride my bike to and from this job and I lived in this little flat by myself. Let’s be honest it was a job to earn money to pay the rent it wasn’t, it wasn’t really a career choice. 


So from Mid Wales I go to London to stay with a friend. London’s a big city you should go there and be successful or something. Then I get a job, quite a good job, working for a big charity that provide cars for disabled people. Quite a good job, big company. So I worked there for two months maybe three and at this point I had got a room in a flat in London so I lived with his German couple.

Everything is very nice. My roommate, which is what you would say in American English, we’d say flatmates in British English study. He said, ‘my brother is coming to London to study so we need the room. So I’m afraid you’ll have to move out.’ And I went back to stay with my friend. Everything’s alright, I’ll look for somewhere else to live. 


Then my friend has to leave her flat. So she gets kicked out of her flat. So I’m now living… I’ve just been kicked out of one place. I move to another. She’s getting kicked out so now I have to find somewhere else to live. Then I get fired from my job. The day I get fired from my job you think, ‘what else could go wrong?’. Really, I mean, I walk outside the building as, no literally, as I walk outside the building, a bird pooped on me. So I’m standing on London Bridge, feeling completely alone. Lost in the world with poop on me.

I’ve got no job. Nowhere to live it’s quite cinematic in a way. Like a scene from a film where the, where the, character has this kind of revelation and he’s like, ‘oh’. Do you know what I mean? It took all that time to suddenly realise that maybe you’re not supposed to be here. Maybe this is not the place for you. Maybe what you think you should be doing isn’t what you should be doing. So you should just go back to Barcelona and live your life basically. 


Without even thinking about you I booked a flight. I talked to my friends he said yes you can come and live with me. He’s living with… ahh this is where the story gets even more interesting. So he’s living with a woman, who I kind of know, but he’s friends with. So he says I need to ask her if you can come and stay. She says yes. So I moved back to Barcelona. But that woman, who lived in that flat, is now my wife. So moving back to Barcelona, that’s the person that I met, we started seeing each other and now we’re married and we have cats.


So that’s kind of the lesson. You shouldn’t be afraid to follow things that make you happy because we were taught to be, not to give up, to work hard. This idea that if you try your best at something, you will be a success. Well, not always because if you’re so blindly devoted to some idea which isn’t working, then you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Especially the way that I was educated to be you know you had to go to university, you’ve got to get a job, you need to be productive and these things are okay.

But in it of themselves they don’t mean anything because unless you have some kind of happiness or someone to share it with then it’s, it’s pointless right? I mean, that’s the, that’s the lesson! It was like, okay I could have been in London and I could have had a successful career and whatever but I wouldn’t have my wife. And so I teach online. I also do lots of cycling because it’s really great here for riding the bike and I’m trying to write a book as well. And telling this story everything has actually comes full circle with my stories and I’m like, I’m just going to start writing, I mean why not?

Bree: That’s all for today! Si te ha gustado la historia de Dan y quieres seguir escuchando más episodios de nuestro podcast, puedes visitar nuestra pagina web, donde tendrás todos los episodios de Into the Story. También encontrarás algunas actividades y materiales de cada episodio para ayudarte mejorar tu inglés. Thank you for listening, until next time we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.

Quote of this episode

‘if you are so blindly devoted to an idea which isn’t working, you are doing yourself more harm than good. "


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04. Tiff’s story: Don’t Wait, Create


Into the Story


Into-the-story-Podcast-para-aprender-inglés_Tiffs story

Episode 4: Tiff’s Story: Don’t Wait, Create

Nivel de inglés: intermedio a intermedio alto
Acento: inglés australiano

Esta semana, descubriremos que incluso los emprendedores necesitan un horario para organizar su día. En este episodio, Tiff nos cuenta cómo se arriesgó, dejó su trabajo y comenzó a construir un negocio del que estar orgullosa.


Bree: Mechanical engineer, beagle dog mother, friend and coffee-lover, there are many ways to describe our storyteller, Tiffany. But today’s story focuses on her most recent title as an entrepreneur!


In this episode, Tiffany describes how she struggled to find purpose in her old job but at the same time struggled with the question, ‘if not this job, then what else should I be doing’? We’ll hear how Tiffany overcame her fears, quit her job and set off on her OWN path to build a business that she is passionate about and proud of! We’re calling this story, ‘Don’t Wait, Create’.


Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Tiff say:

  1. Firstly to churn – to churn means to shake or mix something with a lot of force so for example you can churn milk into butter. You’ll hear Tiffany refers to her ‘churning mind’ which describes how she started to think a lot and very quickly.
  2. To resign – to resign means to leave a job by choice – dejar un trabajo. Tiffany talks about resigning from her job and “handing in her notice”, which is the letter you give to your boss that says you want to quit. 
  3. To set up – this phrasal verb means to create or organise something. We usually talk about setting up an organisation, a business or an event.
  4. STEM – S-T-E-M is an acronym – un acrónimo – that refers to people working in science, technology, engineering or maths. These are all considered STEM careers. 
  5. a gripe – a gripe is a noun that refers to a complaint – una queja. You’ll hear Tiffany describe how  many people have gripes about what she had to say but the important thing is to put yourself in that person’s shoes – ponte en el lugar de la persona para entender mejor su perspectiva. 


Remember for each episode, you can get a full vocabulary list and listening comprehension activities on our website, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto com. OK let’s get into the story…

Tiff: I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Australia when I was eight months old. Did school and University there and also worked there and then I moved to London for a few years, moved back to Melbourne and now I’m back in the United Kingdom. So that’s where I live now.  So I think I have parts of my heart around the world.


I actually didn’t know what an engineer did as a job until I started applying for jobs in my final year of University and even when I got the job I still didn’t really know what I was going to be doing. That was when I took on an engineering role that I was very confident doing. I was good at that role. It was well-paid and from the outside and everything on paper it seemed like a perfect job for me. But for some reason I was really really unhappy in that role. I think I felt that if I was going to spend a third of my waking life at a job I wanted to do something that I am passionate about. 


The day I said out loud that I was going to quit was actually during a long weekend away with my husband Danny. We were driving down to a coastal town in the UK. We were listening to a podcast about career coaching and I thought that’s something that I think I could be really good at. My mind definitely started churning after listening to this podcast, realizing that career coaching was something that I could potentially do. 


There were probably two sides of my brain talking. There was the positive side that was saying hey yes this is something you could definitely do. Get excited because this is going to be a new path. The second side of my brain was the fear side. It was telling me, ‘Are you crazy? Are you really going to be throwing away this great career that you have been work in for the last eight years to start up you’re, you’re own little business to coach other people working in their great careers?’ I guess I also felt scared about what other people would think of me or say. 


So the fear part of my brain was firstly very afraid of what my parents would think of me because they had sacrificed so much to put me in a good school and encouraged me to go to university and I knew that they were really proud of me being a professional engineer. I was also afraid of failing at creating my new business because I’ve never done it before. I didn’t know that many people who had their own businesses and I never grew up with any entrepreneurial families, family support around me. So it was a completely new thing for me – very foreign so it was definitely a really scary thing to think about. I was really not enjoying life at that moment in time but I felt really excited by this idea of helping others create careers that they loved and I think that that was the moment that I had been searching for for the last five years knowing that I wanted to leave my job but I just didn’t know what it was that I wanted to do. 


I waited till the last day that I had to resign as part of my notice period. So the process of resigning to my boss that was, I felt a very awkward conversation, as I’m sure most resignation conversations were.  But especially so because my boss was quite a new manager and I don’t think he had had someone resign from him, his team before. So I felt nervous for me and for him at the same time. Finally had the room to ourselves and I sat down and I close the door and I was just very honest with him. I said, ‘Look, I’m actually really nervous to have this conversation with you’.

Then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine no problems. What can I help with?’. 

I said, ‘I’ve decided that I’m going to hand in my notice and I would like to finish on this date’.


So before I started my business, I would think that a typical entrepreneur is someone who wakes up at 4:30 in the morning, goes for a 10 mile run, comes back, meditates for 20 minutes then drinks a bulletproof coffee and starts work at 6 in the morning. I knew I was never going to be that person. I’m a little bit lazy if I’m honest. Lazy and I am also really protective of my work life balance. So my first day, I didn’t necessarily know what to do. I felt at first, that I would just do whatever I felt was right at the time. I felt incredibly free because I had no one telling me what to do for the first time in eight years and that I could just work on whatever I wanted to do. That didn’t work at all because I got distracted I had lots of ideas and I kept jumping from one thing to the other. 


My first main task, that I should have been focusing on, was getting my website up and running. I worked on that for a few days while getting distracted a lot. When I realized that that wasn’t necessarily working I decided to announce on all of my social media channels that my website would be up and running in seven days time and I made this promise to people who might have looked at my social media posts. I wasn’t stressed out about that but I felt excited so I wanted to work on it late into the night. At that point in time I was still living with a couple of friends and my husband and the other couple were all into watching Love Island at the time and that was a show I couldn’t, I couldn’t get myself to watch I’d I couldn’t do it. So while they were watching Love Island, I was building a business! 


I had to very quickly learn that I did in fact need a schedule… needed to. So first of all I had to set up my own little time table it was like I was back in school. I had my mornings where I did this and my afternoons when I did that. I also realized that I was the only one around so I really had to trust my instinct. In engineering, there’s a lot of checking of work so when you did a piece of work, you would give it to one of your colleagues to check then that would go to their manager to check then that would go to someone else to sign off. When I was left to my own devices, I didn’t have anyone to check my work. I had to really trust myself and I think probably the quality of what I was writing was a lot better than what I did when I was working full-time for someone else. 


If I didn’t know the answer to something it’s actually okay. No one really knows the answer to everything. But as long as I did what I thought was right at the time, then that’s the best that I can do. Sometimes I still got things wrong and that was annoying but at least I put something out there, realized it was wrong and I could learn from my mistakes. I went to do a talk about gender equality at a local meet-up. I talked about a time when my university friend told me that was very thankful that when he was on a team where he was designing a car, it was a family car, that there was a woman in the design team because she was the only one who had experience of having children. So she was an invaluable source of information when it came to designing a family car because she would be the one to question, ‘But what if there’s a nappy explosion in the backseat? What will happen then?’ Or she’s had cars before where kids had broken off cup holders because they were too flimsy. So I gave that example in my talk and afterwards a lady came up to me to say she felt really offended that I had given the example where I highlighted that women were are only useful because they knew about having children. So that was a mistake I had to learn from that even though I meant well by giving this example of educating people about why you need women in a team, I needed to also think in the shoes of someone else. I guess a part of me felt a bit hurt that I was trying to do the right thing but in a different way I’d kind of offended someone while doing it. That feedback definitely did sting. I am now a bit more cautious of the types of examples I gave when I’m doing my outreach speaking. If I’m not sure, I speak to my friends who are mothers or who have seen through those experiences before and I’m also more wary that everyone has their gripes in the world. So it’s not necessarily my fault if someone feels hurt by something but I should still be, I guess sensitive, to what they might be feeling. I had another person come up to me after a talk saying, ‘oh your talk was great but it doesn’t include women who have gone through menopause!’ So there are going to be people with all different sorts of experiences that I can relate to but my business is going to be aimed at people who I can help directly. I’m sure there are some amazing career coaches out there who deal with people who’ve been through menopause and the difficulties that that brings. There are other coaches who has been through childbirth and having to raise a family while working full-time and they’re the ones who are suitable for those people and I guess that’s why there are different people in the same businesses because we all have our own points of you to bring to the world. 


If I look at how I felt before I handed in my notice at my previous company. I’ve come such a long way. I have started my business. I have grown my network. I am starting to get known for what I do in this field and people come to me for questions about gender equality in STEM. Being successful is a really interesting question because I feel like to be successful you just need to feel like you’re always growing. So success is not really a destination. I feel like I still have a lot to give and a lot more that I want to achieve so I hope that in continuing to do that I can continue feeling successful in that way. 


Bree: That’s all for today! Si te ha gustado este podcast y quieres seguir escuchando, puedes visitar nuestra pagina web, donde tendrás todos los episodios de Into the Story. También encontrarás algunas actividades y materiales de cada episodio para ayudarte mejorar tu inglés. Thank you for listening, we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.

Quote of this episode

‘to be successful you just need to feel like you are always growing… success is not really a destination.’


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03. Simon’s story: Wheeling your way to success


Into the Story



Episode 3: Wheeling your Way to Success

Nivel de inglés: intermedio alto a avanzado
Acento: inglés británico de Yorkshire

Una noche de karaoke te lleva al hospital con DOS piernas rotas. Simon explica cómo utilizó su tiempo en una silla de ruedas para convertirse en entrenador personal y lanzar su vida como empresario.

Bree: It doesn’t get much worse than breaking a bone. But what about breaking two bones at the same time the week before starting a new job? 


This is exactly what happened to Simon. But as painful and shocking as it sounds, Simon’s attitude is far from sad or disappointed. On today’s episode, Simon shares his story of how a night of singing karaoke turned into 6 weeks in a wheelchair. We’ll hear how he used this experience as a starting point for a new life as an entrepreneur in Barcelona. We’re calling this story, ‘Wheeling your way to success’.


Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Simon say:

  1. A landing. A landing is basically when something goes from being in the air to the earth, so a plane makes a landing, a bird can make a landing. un aterrizaje, which is an extremely difficult word to say for an English speaker by the way. You’ll hear Simon talking about “absorbing a landing” when he refers to not landing very well after jumping from a tall surface.
  2. To fade. to fade  is when something slowly or gradually becomes less and less. You’ll hear Simon talk about his level of adrenalin fading.  
  3. To crawl around. To crawl around or simply to crawl is when you move around on your hands and feet. Crawling is what a baby does before walking. 
  4. To bear weight. To bear weight is basically to poner o soportar peso. You’ll hear in the story that Simon is told not to bear weight on his legs – not to poner peso en niguna de sus piernas. 
  5. And finally  to be shattered. To be shattered has a few different meanings. one of which is to be very drunk. However in this story it’s used as an adjective for broken. For example if you dropped a glass on the floor, it would shatter.  


A quick note on pronunciation and accents. We recorded this interview online with Simon so you may notice the sound quality isn’t as clear as we would like it to be. Try to listen closely to Simon’s Yorkshire, British accent and you may hear him cutting off the last letters of a word for example ‘Manchest-ah’ instead of ‘Manchest-ER’ or dropping the ‘h’ at the beginning of a word for example ‘ome’ instead of ‘Home’.  


If you need some more help with understanding Simon’s story, remember for each episode, you can get a full vocabulary list and listening comprehension activities on our website, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto com. And one last note here, this story deals with themes related to alcohol so if you’re with younger listeners you may want to skip this one. OK let’s get into the story…


Simon: Many years ago, in Manchester, to celebrate finishing my first attempt at having a job where I’d worked full time for a year, after finishing being a full-time student and hadn’t really enjoyed very much. Good idea would be that I quit this job and get another job that pays a lot of money. I was going to be a team leader for Barclay Card, a credit card company. So any way, to celebrate escaping from the previous job, which had been a team leader at Ticketmaster, I decided to go out for a drink which was like the tradition in England. Well, you notice a big difference when you first move to Spain, the very sensible drinking culture that they have here of drinking a very small beer, very slowly. Whereas in England, we have the very unhealthy habit, as you’ll see, of drinking a very large beer very quickly and then repeating this process multiple times until you are very drunk. 


We ended up in a karaoke bar, finished the night by singing ‘I Did It My Way’ by Frank Sinatra and then, I had this kinda ‘Frank Sinatra’ style vibe going on the drunkenness, and on leaving the bar thought, ‘oh a good idea would be to climb up on top of that shipping container and do a sort of Frank Sinatra style dance on top of the shipping container’, which I did, I’m sure… very well. What failed me was the landing skills because when I jumped off the shipping container, being very very drunk, I failed to recognise the floor approaching rapidly and I didn’t like, absorb the landing in anyway. So I kinda landed with straight legs and smashed into the pavement… which hurt… which should be a sign if you feel pain after probably like 12 pints of strong ale, this is probably a sign, if this happens to anybody else in the future, that you should go immediately to the hospital. But I didn’t because we had a big party planned and I was DJing at the party so I was like, ‘no, we must go on!’. 


So I managed to get to the bus with the aid of some friends, kinda arms over the shoulder of the friends… get on the bus to where we going. When we got off the bus at the other side. It was like really hurting. Maybe kinda the adrenaline was fading, the alcohol was fading.   I was like, ‘oh I don’t think I can walk any further’. So my equally drunk friends, also heading to the party with me, had the amazing idea of… we saw this big like… in the UK outside the pubs they have these massive bins on wheels where they put all the bottles, empty bottles. So they took the empty bin, set me on top of the bin and wheeled me about one kilometer back to the party where I was DJing and just kinda abandoned this bottle bin out on a nice residential family street in the suburbs of Manchester. Fortunately, I managed to DJ. Being quite tall, I’m like 6ft 2, 188 cm, I was able to DJ kneeling… just kind of reaching up to the decks. So the party was saved! 


The next thing where they was waking up the next morning. The first thing I noticed was the pain in my head and then on trying to get out of the bed and stand up, the screaming pain in the ankles and then I looked at my ankles and they were watermelons. So I had to kinda crawl down the stairs and then say to my friend, well my flatmate, who had a car, ‘I think you need to drive me to the hospital’.


The nurse is like, ‘oh can you just walk up and down for me?’ 

So I was like trying to walk up and down and was like, ‘oh this really hurts’. 

She was like, ‘hmm’. She sent me for an x-ray and then when she came back she was like, ‘oh I’m so sorry, I’m so so sorry!’ 

They sorta sat me down and put me in a bed and said, ‘yeh yeh it’s critical that you don’t bear any weight on either leg cos you’ve shattered the right ankle and cracked the left heel all the way through. So there is probably going to be some surgery needed on the ankle and you need both in a cast. You can’t put any weight on either leg’. 


‘So who is your GP?’ Like your general practitioner. But being from Yorkshire, Yorkshire men don’t go to the doctor so I had never been to the doctor and had never registered with a GP. So I didn’t have one. And they were like… ‘oh you don’t have one? But you need a GP in order to get a wheelchair. The wheelchair is provided by your GP, not from the hospital’. 

I was like, ‘oh what do I do then?’. They literally disappeared for like 2 hours and then they came back and they had a pair of crutches. I was like, ‘a pair of crutches!? But you told me before that it was absolutely imperative that I couldn’t bear weight on either leg. So if you’ve ever tried to use crutches without putting either leg on the floor, it’s quite a… difficult process. 


And then on the Monday, well, what I thought was going to be well, an embarrassing thing, was the thought of having to call the new job and tell them, ‘just to warn you, hopefully, if I can find one, hopefully I’ll be coming in… in a wheelchair.’ 

But when I rang them they said, ‘ah slight problem there in that the building, it’s an old building, is not wheelchair accessible’. So that was the first realisation of, ‘oh dear I’m now unemployed’.


And then having to ring, kinda, the social security place to say, ‘oh look, I’ve just finished my job. I had a new job lined up but I’ve broken both my legs. Is there anything I can do?’

‘Well, you’ll have to come down to the office?’


And then when I finally manage to make it down to the office, kinda the social security office after finally having found a wheelchair and dragging myself down there. They told me, ‘you haven’t paid enough social security in however many years’… because I was a student basically, ‘so you aren’t entitled to claim anything’.  


I was wheelchair bound for 6 weeks and then on crutches for about, I think another 6 weeks after that. I mean on the bright side, I was doing a part-time Masters at the time, which I had made zero progress on before having broken my legs. So I think the only reason I completed the masters was because I was stuck in the house for six weeks. So that was a bonus and I watched many many DVD box sets.


So the first day that I got out of the wheelchair and had the cast taken off, I mean it was a bit of a shock because literally I couldn’t stand up by myself. Getting about was still a considerable challenge. I mean I am kinda that person, that kind that has that glass is always half full kinda perspective. So I rehabilitated myself from the broken legs and then got really into strength training and fitness training. I hated the first job I did. 


You know and I think there was a lot of built up tension there released in this cathartic experience. Perhaps it was some unconscious way of saying, ‘don’t do this, don’t do this again’ and I perhaps unconsciously broke both my legs to try and sabotage going to another 9 to 5 office job. But it didn’t quite work. So after that, I worked 1 more year, exactly 1 year before quitting and saying no more of this and then ended up qualifying as a personal trainer and then quit my second job to start a personal training business and working for myself. I read a book called the ‘4 Hour Work Week’, by this American author Tim Ferris, which was like about how to make a living but that requires very little input in terms of time, so like 4 hours a week, a rough guideline, and that you can do from anywhere. The kinda digital nomad lifestyle. Umm… So I read this book, started these kinda online businesses, which gave me the freedom to move around, which is more incentive to keep both legs functioning. 


Bree: That’s all for today! Si te ha gustado este podcast y quieres seguir escuchando, puedes visitar nuestra pagina web, donde tendrás todos los episodios de Into the Story. También encontrarás algunas actividades y materiales de cada episodio para ayudarte mejorar tu inglés. Thank you for listening, we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.


Quote of this episode

‘maybe I unconsciously broke my legs to sabotage myself going into another 9 to 5 office job’


Learning materials

Curso intensivo de inglés en AC inglés

Apúntate a nuestras clases de inglés GRATIS para conseguir un nivel upper-intermediate o aprobar el B2 First de Cambridge

Recibe videoclases semanales + clases en DIRECTO Todo gratis 🙌

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02. Bree’s story: Labels, Layers and Late-night Loots

El podcast para aprender inglés Into-the-Story-Episode-2-Bree's-story

Into the Story


El podcast para aprender inglés Into-the-Story-Episode-2-Bree's-story

Episode 2: Labels, Layers and Late-night Loots

En este episodio, Bree, nos cuenta una historia sobre dejar ir los prejuicios y etiquetas, aprender a vivir en el extranjero y descubrir que tus vecinos no son necesariamente quienes crees que son.

Bec: It’s Bec here from AC Ingles. I’m a teacher and also one of the producers behind the Into the Story podcast! Normally, Bree will be here giving you the introduction, but today it’s my turn to host. You’ll see why in a minute.

When I imagine life along the Spanish coast, the first images that come to mind are of long walks on the beach, neighbours drinking coffee on the terrace and children riding bicycles in the streets. However, this beachtown story contains none of those things! 

In Bree’s case, what happened was closer to a scene from an action movie – helicopters, police and suspicious black vans. Today, we are going to hear Bree telling her story of how living in Spain allowed her to reflect on expectations of being labeled ‘the friendly Canadian’ and how one action-packed night changed her impression of her neighbours. We are calling this story ‘labels, layers and late-night loots’.

Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Bree say:

  1. pop up – this phrasal verb means ‘to appear suddenly’ – E.g. Annoying advertisements pop up from time to time on my internet screen.
  2. to come across – another phrasal verb meaning ‘to meet by chance’ – E.g. I came across an old school friend at the cafe yesterday that I hadn’t seen in ages.
  3. toss and turn – refers to ‘moving around a lot in bed as you try to fall asleep’ – When it’s hot at night, I toss and turn a lot before I can fall asleep.
  4. to hang out the window – an expression meaning to ‘lean out of the window’ – we usually use hang out to talk about meeting with friends but this is a different context and meaning you’ll hear Bree refer to.
  5. to catch someone’s eye  – an expression we use to mean ‘getting someone’s attention by looking at them’ – E.g. I caught the eye of the handsome man at the bar.

For each episode, you can get a full vocabulary list and listening comprehension activities on our website, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto com. OK let’s get into the story…

Bree: My name is Bree and I’m from western Canada from Calgary, Alberta. It’s right near Banff. Banff is a really beautiful place right in the Rocky Mountain that a lot of people. If you search Canada that’s one of the images that will pop up. So I’m from a very picturesque beautiful place. 

When I moved to Barcelona, one of the first things I noticed was that I went from being in a place where people understood my culture and where they were able to see more depth to me and not just my culture or my language, to a place where the first thing people would say to me would be, ‘Oh you’re from Canada. It’s always so cold in Canada! Oh you’re so friendly!’ because Canadians are very well-known for being friendly and kinda being reduced in a certain way to just where I’m from and that to be honest with you it really bothered me. Whenever I meet people I’m always trying to get to the layers. 

One day these English speakers show up. The house across the street from us has been for rent so I imagine that these guys are going to rent this house and when I approach them I say, ‘Hey, how are you are you? Are you new to the area?’. But they’re really cold and it’s really strange and I leave the conversation feeling just odd. 

It’s 4:45 in the morning, and we’re in fiesta season so there are sometimes kids who throw firecrackers on the streets at all hours of the night and it’s summer all the windows in the house are open. The baby has been tossing and turning all night so I was kind of a bit awake anyway. And it’s 4:45 and my eyes pop open to the sound of firecrackers, fireworks, pop pop pop – extremely loud.

My first thought is, ‘those teenagers down the street throwing fireworks… I am so mad… that the babies just gone to sleep and they’re going to wake him up’. I noticed that the tree outside the house is almost like in a tornado of sound and wind and there are leaves flying everywhere and then I notice that there’s an extremely intense light shining into my bedroom window. I jump out of my bed and I run to the window. I’m hanging out the window and my husband is also right next to me. So both of us are hanging out the window looking up at a helicopter hovering above our house. The propellers are making this crazy wind storm the light, the spotlight, is shining right into our eyes the helicopter moves the spotlight off of us but it continues to search. I can see it’s searching the neighbor’s house. Then I see it shining up and I imagine that it’s illuminating the forest just behind our house. Then I see another helicopter. So there’s two helicopters. While all this is happening I hear pop pop pop and I realize something’s wrong and these aren’t fireworks these are something much more sinister. These are gunshots or something else. 

I crawl army-style to the front room in our house that faces the street to try to get some sort of perspective on what’s happening and I peer out the window and I see right in front of my house. So between my house and the neighbor’s house, I see an unmarked black SUV parked diagonally between our house and theirs and I see that their garage is open fully and the lights are on and I continue hearing the pop pop pop and I can see that there’s a helicopter over top of their house. 

I feel my heart pounding against my rib cage like it’s going to pop out and all that I think is get back to the room. My husband is… runs upstairs to try to see what’s going on when he comes back downstairs he is frantic, he’s terrified. He sees that there are basically an army of Special Operations officers. So these are big 2 meter tall guys with full gear marching into our neighbor’s house. This moment the thought that’s going through my mind as I’m sitting there sitting on the floor against the door with my heart pounding out of my chest is, ‘I live in a world where I don’t have to worry about…’. Sorry, I don’t know why I got emotional there. All of this craziness go enemy is just a tiny little taster of what perhaps people have to feel. 

At this point with the adrenaline and the craziness going on and feeling unsafe I felt very very profound sadness. We spend about what feels like an eternity in this panic mode where you know at this point we don’t have the facts although we know is that there are helicopters there’s something going on at our neighbour’s house. I’m thinking are there is there going to be an explosion? Is there going to be shots that fly into a the window? What do we do? We go upstairs after the gunshots have stopped and from our living room we have a vantage point where we can see that the Special Operations officers are in the house. So the house always the shutters, the persianas, they’re closed but the persians are open and we can see them marching through the house very very clearly. We don’t see any of the guys but we still see the helicopter shining a spotlight and illuminating all of the mountain behind our house. So we imagine that they’re looking for someone. 

Eventually the sun starts to come out and the neighbors all start coming out of their houses and we’re looking at each other trying to catch each other’s eye to say, ‘What’s going on?’. Later that morning I’m sitting having my morning coffee in the living room and everything is still open because it’s so hot and as I’m having my coffee and listening to the investigators talk about what’s going on. Basically, I look out. I see a bunch of officers pull out massive bags of drugs and they’re photographing them. I I think, What was going on this whole time?’. These people, these people that were my neighbours that I didn’t know had so many layers! Beyond… have so many layers beyond what I will probably ever understand! Not only were they obviously involved in some crazy illegal activity but also what are their circumstances? What are the stories that they have? 

In our everyday life we we look at people and we label people and something about the way they look or the way they speak you kind of create an idea in your mind of who they are what they are. But people are so layered and people are so complex and they have so much more going on than we can ever possibly imagine. 

Bec: That’s all for today! Si te ha gustado este podcast y quieres seguir escuchando, puedes visitar nuestra pagina web, donde tendrás todos los episodios de Into the Story. También encontrarás algunas actividades y materiales de cada episodio para ayudarte mejorar tu inglés. Thank you for listening, we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.

Quote of this episode

‘People are so layered and people are so complex and they have so much more going on than we could possibly ever imagine.’


Learning materials

Curso intensivo de inglés en AC inglés

Apúntate a nuestras clases de inglés GRATIS para conseguir un nivel upper-intermediate o aprobar el B2 First de Cambridge

Recibe videoclases semanales + clases en DIRECTO Todo gratis 🙌

Publicado el 3 comentarios

01. Bec’s Story: Just Say Yes to Everything


Into the Story



Episode 1: Just Say Yes to Everything

Nivel de inglés: intermedio a intermedio alto
Acento: inglés australiano

Bec nos cuenta su historia de amor con un cambio de rumbo repentino en su vida. Oiremos cómo mantuvo su mente y corazón abierto para recibir las nuevas experiencias que le esperaban al otro lado del mundo.

Bree: We all seem to have ideas about what life will look like when we reach a certain age or time in our life and sometimes those ideas are accurate and sometimes they are not. We are going to hear Bec telling us her story of how she started again. Bec is originally from Melbourne, Australia and we are calling this story, ‘Just say yes to everything.’

Before we listen to Bec’s story, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Bec say:

Whirlwind – this noun and adjective most commonly refers to an energetic and chaotic process. E.G. To travel around Canada in one week would be a whirlwind trip. It would be a very rushed and chaotic trip!
Pillow talk – refers to the conversations two people have in bed. These are normally nice light conversations. E.G. The couple was laying in bed talking about the day they first met.
To grieve – this verb to feel intense sadness. It’s commonly used to refer to what we feel after we lose someone E.G. She grieved the loss of her father.
To be stoked – This adjective is slang so very informal. And means To feel very excited about something. E.G. She was really stoked about her trip to California.

For each episode, you can get a full vocabulary list and listening comprehension activities on our website, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto com. OK let’s get into the story…

Bec: I met him in a job interview. His name is Julian. We were in competition for the same job at a law firm. I didn’t think much of him. I thought he was a strapping young man. He was very tall and had a very serious face. In that regard he was intriguing. But after that day, we both discovered that we got the job. We were both successful in that and I discovered that he also like to stand in the corner and eat the free food at our Friday drinks at a law firm. And from there we discovered that we both took the same train in the mornings together and I noticed that I started timing my arrival to the train platform to coincide with his.I suppose that is where it all began.

We traveled a lot together and for a while there we were in Europe. He was studying in the Netherlands and I was using it as an excuse to run away to Europe for the summer we did all those things that young couples do. We travelled, we did the backpacker journey.
We had adventures. We moved in together. We had a little apartment by Albert Park, which is a lovely like in Melbourne by the beach. We loved doing sports together. We did triathlons. We did hiking together.

From there it was probably about three and a half years into our relationship that we were at and Angus and Julia Stone concert – that was really lovely and a very quintessential Australian folk experience – that we decided to get married! People ask me if he was the one who initiated or if I was but I really don’t know how it came about it. It wasn’t like he got down on one knee. It was a lot more unassuming. It was just, you know, we are caught up in all this beautiful music all these love songs. I don’t know somehow we left the concert engaged!

Then began the the whirlwind of planning a wedding. We did all of the the frilly bits of an engagement party. We did dress fittings. We visited locations together this was about a year in the process and we’ve had invitations sent out. I had my bridesmaids all ready to go and then it was one evening two months out from the wedding, just as we were lying in bed having pillow talk, as they say, he said to me, ‘I can’t do it. I can’t get married’.

It was such a quiet spoken sentence but with such grave implications. In that moment I didn’t really know how to process it. He asked, we he said it so nicely, like I just can’t get married to you. And so at this point everything was ready I suppose you could describe what happened next as trying to detangle hair from a hairbrush – very messy, painful and tedious. I wanted to normality as soon as possible. After that day he moved out and I was pretty much left living on a mattress on the floor. I had also just left a job and I was well we were relying on his salary to live because I had gone back to study. So I definitely felt his absence in more ways than one. I do remember a lot nights, my sister, my younger sister. I call her my ‘little big sister’ because she was really there for me at that time when I really needed someone to be next to me in the bed.

To help my ex Julian and I reconcile what had happened, at one point we decided. Well, we have all this champagne. What are we going to do with tens of bottles of champagne just lying in our storeroom? What we’re going to do is we’re going to throw a picnic with all our friends and whoever wants to come and show that, you know what, everything is okay and we’re going to get through this and let’s have some fun along the way!
The day of the picnic came about it was really lovely. I mean Melbourne in the summer is really gorgeous. The sun is not too hot it’s just that nice warm from the back of your neck and the vibe in the city – it’s just emanates summer. We were all hanging out. Friends had bought their friends. It really marked a new beginning and in more than one sense for me!

This is where chapter 2 of the story begins. I met a young guy a young Venezuelan surgeon, who had just moved to the country, called Daniel. And this is my break up picnic and he’s arrived. We just started to hang out because he was new to Melbourne and I was on my way out of Melbourne. Oh I had signed up for a job in New Caledonia. It’s a little island. I was going there to teach. This guy is new to the city and he seemed to like hiking so sure let’s hang out it!

It did come as a shock to me when one month into my new contract in New Caledonia I got a call from young Daniel saying Rebecca it so happens that I’m coming to New Caledonia, any chance I could stay with you and we could hang out? I suppose from that point that’s where my life with Daniel began. We were in New Caledonia together for 2 weeks and it was really lovely and I think that’s when we decided there’s something here.

I took on the mentality of just saying yes to everything that came my way. That was part of the new me, my new and improved mantra. With my new mantra in mind I agreed to move to Perth with Daniel and then after a year there working in the desert, we said yes to a job opportunity that came Daniel’s way in Barcelona and most recently I suppose I said yes to having a baby together! And here we are in Barcelona 3 years later with our almost two-year-old baby girl Zoe.

If I… if I think back to five years ago and all those job interview questions that we do, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’ I would have never imagined this, living a life in Barcelona, by the beach. I teach. I help manage an English school. It’s amazing! Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’m returning to Melbourne for the first time in more or less three years since arriving and to be honest I’m really nervous. Let’s see how it goes!

Bree: I had the chance to speak with back after her trip to Australia. We are in covid-19 lockdown right now. We recorded this remotely. Let’s hear what Bec has to say about going back to Australia for the first time in a long time and how she’s feeling about Australia these days. How how was the experience of going back and introducing Zoe to her Australian roots? How did it feel?

Bec: Going back to australia was really nice. Umm I was nervous at the beginning. But it felt so strange but at the same time so familiar to be back home. It also brought on a sense of nostalgia I think having the family all around me as well all of my cousins and aunties and uncles that live in more or less the same suburb. I had a glimpse of what life would have been like.

I felt grateful to have those family around me because they welcomed us so effortlessly they just walked in and were like ‘how’s it going Zoe?’ or ‘Bec, how’s it going?’ as if no time had passed at all. I kept thinking to myself, ‘could I live here again?’ and I don’t know about that I think over the years my sense of home has evolved. Over the years and when I was a child growing up, my family moved around a lot. For me, my sense of family is more about the people and having that constant. Yes I feel at home in Barcelona more than Australia now but beyond that I feel more at home with Zoe and Dan.

That’s all for today! Si te ha gustado este podcast y quieres seguir escuchando, puedes visitar nuestra pagina web, donde tendrás todos los episodios de Into the Story. También encontrarás algunas actividades y materiales de cada episodio para ayudarte con tu inglés. Thank you for listening and until next time, we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.

Quote of this episode

"over the years my sense of home has evolved"


Learning materials

Curso intensivo de inglés en AC inglés

Apúntate a nuestras clases de inglés GRATIS para conseguir un nivel upper-intermediate o aprobar el B2 First de Cambridge

Recibe videoclases semanales + clases en DIRECTO Todo gratis 🙌