EnBooo Podcast

Episode 122 • Geography


Across the pond


When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Make a mountain out of a molehill

Slippery slope


Kirk: Hey, Sammy! You’re back!
Sammy: Hi! I am!
Kirk: How was France?
Sammy: Oh, fantastique! Oh, sorry, did I just say “fantastique”? You know I’ve been speaking French the whole summer I almost feel like I’m forgetting English.
Kirk: This lucky one got to spend three months in Paris.
Friend: Oh, really?
Sammy: Yep, I think spending a few months across the pond is an experience everyone should have once in their life.
Friend: Oh yeah, no, I get it. My dad spends long periods of time overseas for work so sometimes I get to travel to visit him.
Kirk: So, Sammy, tell us. How was it?
Sammy: Great, great! You know. Very romantic. You know my- My parents were there but it was beautiful. The food and the shops and the [flicks lighter]
Kirk: Are you-? Since when do you smoke?
Sammy: Oh, just a few weeks. I guess it’s a habit I got in Paris. Everybody smokes there. You know they say, right? When in Rome, do as the Romans do! [giggles]
Kirk: Well, I think you should quit. It’s really bad for you.
Sammy: Oh, come on! You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s just one or two cigarettes a day. How bad can it be?
Kirk: I’m telling you, Sammy. It’s a slippery slope. My aunt started the same way and now she smokes a pack a day. Well, then, tell me. How was it? Did you see the Eiffel Tower?
Sammy: Have I seen the Eiffel Tower?! Please, of course. It’s so-big. Look. You don’t believe me. I even got pictures.
Kirk: No, I believe-
Sammy: See, that’s me, my dad and my stepmom in front of the Eiffel Tower, like I told you!
Kirk: Yes, I see- Sammy, why- Why are there so many people wearing Disney shirts? And is that- Is that a man dressed as Mickey Mouse?
Sammy: Fine, you got me. I didn’t go to Paris. I went to Disney World.


Across the pond

'I think spending a few months across the pond is an experience everyone should have once in their life.'

• What is the pond in this idiom? A lake or the ocean?

The pond that we are referring to in this case is the ocean.

• If you are in the States and you travel across the pond, where will you go? East, heading to Europe or west, heading to Asia?

If you are in the States and you are traveling to go across the pond, you are going to be traveling east, meaning you're going to be going to Europe. You're going to be crossing the Atlantic Ocean. That is the pond, so to speak, that we are referring to in this idiom. If you are in the States and you want to say that you're traveling to the UK, for example, you would say, "Oh, I'm going to be spending however much time across the pond." The same goes if you are in the UK, and you're going to be spending some time in the States.

• Have you ever been across the pond?

Yes, quite a few times. You guys know, by this point, that I used to have a boyfriend in the States. Actually, two of my boyfriends were from the States. I also worked there and studied there for a little while, a total of two years. I have been across the pond.


'My dad spends long periods of time overseas for work.'

• If someone from the US, for example, lives or works overseas, where do they live? In a different city or in a foreign country?

If someone from the US, for example, or really any other country, lives or works overseas, they live in a foreign country.

• Where is that country usually located? Across the sea or not?

You got a little bit of a hint there. It's overseas so yes, it is across the sea. If you say that you are living overseas, that means that between the country that you're living in and the country where you are from, or you're moving from, there's a body of water, normally a sea or the ocean, not really a lake because, again, it's overseas, but yes, the ocean works, too. Again, if you're from the US and you moved to France, you can say that you went overseas, and the other way around.

• Do you know anybody working or living overseas at the moment?

I don't really think so. I can't think of anyone that lives or works abroad at the moment. Most of my friends, well, I want to say all of my friends, stayed in Italy, so no. Probably because we're Italians, and everybody knows that Italians love their moms. They don't want to be too far away from them. Maybe that's why. I'm just kidding. There's plenty of Italians that do work overseas. I just don't happen to know any, I guess.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

'You know they say, right? When in Rome, do as the Romans do!'

• What does the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” imply? That when you travel to a different country, you should act like the people who live in that country or that you should act like you do in your country?

If you say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do.", you are implying that when you are traveling, you should act like the people that live in the country that you have traveled to. You should embrace their culture and their habits.

• Do you follow the “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” rule when traveling?

Probably I'm not the best example because I really don't go by the rule, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." I will try different foods. I'm very curious when it comes to other people's cultures. In terms of changing my own habits, it's really hard for me. I don't have a lot of habits, actually. I've been living in Spain for the past three years, more or less. You know that Spain is famous for its crazy dinner times, maybe? Okay, they wouldn't call them crazy, but they do have dinner at nine, sometimes even 10pm, sometimes even later. That, to me, is just something that I haven't adjusted to. I don't think I ever will. I haven't really made the effort, but it's just not something that I enjoy, having dinner that late. Again, I'm not the best example of living by this rule, but I do think it's important as a tourist to get curious about some of these things and at least try them out. Put yourself in the shoes of the people that live in that country. You just might discover something new. Something else that, when I moved to Spain, I swore I would never do, was to have a savory breakfast because here in Italy, we pretty much only have sweets for breakfast. I'm talking croissants, I'm talking cakes or cookies, very, very sweet stuff. One of the most typical breakfasts in Spain is tostada con tomate which is basically toasted bread with tomatoes. At first, I was horrified. I would look at people, and I was like, "Okay, how can you eat that at 7:30 in the morning? It's beyond me." Surprisingly enough, I tried it one time and I enjoyed it. Now, it's one of my favorite breakfasts. All I'm saying is that there's a lot to discover when you follow the rule, it's not really a rule, when you follow this proverb "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" because you can expand your horizons and discover something new that you didn't know about yourself.

Make a mountain out of a molehill

'Oh, come on! You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.'

• If you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, are you turning a small problem into a big one, or a big problem into a small one?

If you're making a mountain out of a molehill, you're turning a small problem, something that might be even insignificant, into a big problem. You tend to exaggerate a problem.

• When do you usually say “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill”? When criticizing someone for overreacting or when telling someone they should worry?

You use this idiom when criticizing someone for overreacting. You think something that is not a big deal is happening, the other person's freaking out. You're like, "Okay, hold on. You're making a mountain out of a molehill. Relax. The problem is not as big as you're picturing it to be, or you're making it out to be."

• Has someone ever told you you were making a mountain out of a molehill?

I think maybe my boyfriend tells me that once a day. Like I said, I do this all the time. Unfortunately, I'm a pretty pessimistic person. Whenever something happens, I always tend to, either, exaggerate it, I'm talking about negative things. To me, things look much, much worse than they actually are. I tend to catastrophize a lot. A lot of times, even if it's a small thing, I immediately freak out, and I start thinking about all the possible negative consequences that this thing might have. Yes, I definitely do that a lot. I make a mountain out of a molehill a lot. Pretty much once a day, my boyfriend needs to go, "Laura, you're making a mountain out of a molehill. Let's try to be rational here."

Slippery slope

'I’m telling you, Sammy. It’s a slippery slope.'

• What’s a slippery slope? A situation that could easily have very bad consequences or very good consequences.

If you say it's a slippery slope, you are talking about a situation that could very easily have very bad consequences.

• If you say something someone is doing or a situation they’re in is a slippery slope, do you think it will be easy or difficult to stop?

It's going to be difficult. Think about what a slope is. A slope is a piece of ground that is higher at one end than the other. What happens when you are at the top, and you go down? If you fall, you are going to go down the slope, the further down you go, the faster you're also going to fall. That is the idea behind this idiom is this almost like unstoppable fall, that becomes worse and worse as you progress. All these bad consequences are going to start building up, there's going to be more and more of them, and it's going to be really hard to stop, because you're going to be so fast that it's going to be really hard to stop you or these bad consequences.That's what you mean, when you say that it's a slippery slope, it means a bad decision or a bad behavior that could very quickly turn into an even bigger problem that you cannot get out of.

• Why would you tell someone the situation they’re in is a slippery slope? To warn them or to encourage them to continue to do what they’re doing?

Well, a slippery slope is a dangerous situation. You would tell them, "Hey, listen, it's a slippery slope. Don't do that," to warn them, to kind of let them know that you think that they should stop doing what they're doing.

• What situations are possible slippery slopes?

Well, the example from the story's a good example. Smoking can be a slippery slope, meaning you try it one day, just one cigarette just for fun and then before you know it, you become addicted to it, and you want to smoke a whole pack a day or something. Yes, that's an example of a potential slippery slope. As for me, I think watching reality TV is a slippery slope because if I start watching one episode then I can't stop, and then I don't get anything done. Yes, not sure how many people can relate to this one, but it's still a pretty good example.

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