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Jan 26, 2017

When I first came to live in Wenatchee, the town was very small. That was 25 years ago. I had just moved over here, and I was in shock, as I had lived in London for 3 years and was totally comfortable there. You could describe me at that time as being 'a fish out of water'. I experienced a major culture shock. Although I found the people here friendly, they seemed to be unaware of a lot of the world. Not many people from this town traveled anywhere else, unless they had to. As the town had started with fruit orchards, the people here had been tied to(1) the land, and as a result had stayed locally for the most part(2). London, on the other hand, was and still is(3) the vast, multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan hub of England, with a constant flow of people into and out of the city. I remember walking along one of the streets in Wenatchee feeling stripped of everything that was comfortable: architecture, history, greenery, and a mix of ethnicities. In fact, people were staring at me from their cars because most people here don't walk; they drive. The town was built around cars, not pedestrians. It was a very strange experience. When I think of the students who listen to my podcasts, I do realize that many of them will live in an English speaking country in order to improve their fluency. This can be a challenge. All over the world people are stepping out, moving abroad for education or other reasons, and they too feel like 'fish out of water'. The process of getting used to a new culture while living in a new country is 'acculturation'. It basically means 'to get used to a new culture/ to assimilate into a new culture.' From my experience, and what I've heard from other immigrants, is that acculturating is a process that involves gains and losses, high points and low points. It would be even more of a challenge if you have to learn a new language as well; surely that could potentially hold you back from feeling comfortable and with any sense of being 'at home'. I remember once seeing a young lady sitting on the floor against the wall in King's Cross Station crying. I went up to her and asked what was wrong. She told me that she was from Spain, had come over for a nannying job, but didn't know which platform she needed for her train. She felt lost. I was able to speak Spanish to her, get her to the correct train, and also call her new boss. She was actually fine, but she didn't realize that she was. Sometimes a person simply needs some encouragement to keep going in the right direction. I was lucky that I had encouragement when I first came here. Those of you who will live abroad must be brave, and surround yourselves with encouraging people. Reward yourselves for every step forward you make, and realize that you are making progress, and that that is to be celebrated.

1. 'To be tied to' is a great way of expressing how a person  cannot escape their responsibilities, or how they cannot deny an emotional link to someone or something. It can also mean that something is related to or depends on something.

a. He is tied to his contract; he won't be free until it finishes next year.

b. She couldn't imagine leaving town; all her family and friends were there, and she was tied to them.

c. The success of the apple trees is tied to the health of the bees.

2. 'For the most part' is another way of saying 'mainly'. It is good to have this sort of phrase in your repertoire so you can add variety to your sentences.

a. The youth center is sponsored, for the most part, by the local shoe factory.

b. For the most part she is even tempered, but when she talks about politics, she gets furious.

3. 'Was and still is' is self explanatory, but a wonderful phrase. Simply by using the verb to be it indicates that a person or thing still has the characteristics that it had in the past.

a. She was and still is the best singer in the choir.

b. The best way to stimulate the economy has been studied and debated for decades. It was and still is the biggest issue of the government agenda.

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