Season 1, Episode 8 - British University Lifestyle

Charlie Baxter

What's this episode about?

In this episode I have a conversation with Martin from Rock N Roll English who has a very similar aim in his teaching style to me so if you like my stuff then he is definitely worth checking out!

As Martin also went to University in the UK, I decided to ask him about three areas of interest. These were: nightlife, accommodation and campus lifestyle.

We found out some interesting things out about each other, highlighted the culture behind British people going to University and of course some great expressions along the way.Join us in exploring the student lifestyle of a typical British lad around 2010 and the expressions that came out of this episode.

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Meet today's guest


From Rock N' Roll English

Martin is from the UK but lives in Italy and teaches English at International House Palermo and runs a wonderful podcast called Rock N' Roll English which has a similar mission statement to The British English Podcast although I'd say his is a bit more informal and unfiltered focusing less on culture and more on authentic stories and conversations. 

He has many years experience teaching English and has taught English at various different schools, large financial companies, law firms and now he teaches at International House, Palermo.

He has a TEFL qualification and is also CELTA qualified.

Martin also likes reading books and going to bed early cos he's so Rock n’Roll.
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Transcript of Episode 8 - Part 1

Hello and welcome back to the British English podcast. My name is Charlie Baxter and this podcast is for non-native English learners from around intermediate to advance learners who want to better understand British, English and British culture. And today, guys, I have got a wonderful guest who comes from England. He's residing in Italy at the moment, but he does a fantastic podcast as well, because obviously mine is fantastic, but his is bloody fantastic. And he goes by the name of Martin. Martin, how are you doing today?

Very well, thank you, Charlie. Thank you very much for inviting me. Very pleased to be here.

Oh, my honour. And yes, Martin does the podcast called Rock 'n' Roll English. I've listened to it for quite some time and my YouTube partner Harry has managed to feature on there already. I feel like that was, what, six months ago now.

You know what I think it was almost exactly one year ago, because I remember Harry asked me how old I was and I said I was 34, but I was very nearly 35. But you don't want to you know, you don't want to round that up. You don't want to go to the highest number. So I said- Not on the thirties? No, definitely not. Maybe maybe when you're 17. Sure, because then you can be 18 and go to a pub not in the 30s. And I remember thinking maybe Charlie's going to ask me how old I am. So, again, do I want to round that up to 36 or stay solid at 35?

Well, it does make me want to say happy birthday for when it when it is. When is the big day?

A few weeks, thirteenth of November. So you can if you send a card now, it probably just about arrive in time, especially during the pandemic.

Yes. I should get on it. I should get on it. Meaning I should start, I should do it quickly.

So. Yeah. Thank you very much for being on here, Martin. And guys, we're going to be doing a podcast all around "University". University in the UK because Martin and I, we both went to uni. You can be the judge of whether it was the right choice for myself and for Martin maybe at the end of this. Who knows? Who knows. But yeah. Martin, you wanna tell me a little bit about where you went to university?

Yeah, sure. So I went to the University of Reading. Before going, I actually took a gap year, what we say. So, like between study, so I was supposed to finish school at 18. And then I didn't actually want to go to university, so I started working for a year. And then I thought, you know what, work is pretty rubbish. So after a year, I thought, I'll go to university because all of my friends were at university. So then, yes, I started at the University of Reading. I studied economics. No idea why, that was obviously a mistake. I think I had dreams of becoming like the "Wolf of Wall Street". Um, but very quickly after university, when I worked in a bank, um, I wasn't quite the wolf of Wall Street and I didn't really enjoy the environment. And then now I find myself teaching English. So my degree in economics, as you can imagine, has come in handy quite a lot.

So it's very useful.

Remember, if you want transcripts of this podcast, then head over to the website, the, or if you wanted to join the academy to continue listening to part two and three of this episode and get a huge amount of video lessons, pronunciation practise, quizzes, assignments, bonus content and much, much more, that will ensure you get comfortable using the advanced language in these episodes, then head over to the

So why why do you feel like you didn't want to become, you know, a wolf of Wall Street fella? What made you realise that "That isn't quite for me".

Well, the whole environment of working in a bank. And when you're having, like a discussion with someone, a heated debate in a meeting about an interest rate rising 0.01 per cent, you do kind of ask yourself what kind of significance does this have in the world? And then you start I started thinking, I don't really think I'm particularly enjoying this job number crunching. So having to spend a lot of time with numbers all day.

Yeah, yeah. That's that's something that I'm absolutely terrible at. But my parents, they wanted me to, to be very good at this and they put me into a, an after school club called

Kumon. Did you ever experience this. No, I didn't. Please tell me. I think it's a Japanese based school like an after-school Club, but it's, it's global now. It has been for some time. But yeah, it was just like these maths, papers that you would do, and you'd do them repetitively. I think it was my first job as well. After I got to a certain level, I was able to mark the papers. There was like three plus one is four; five plus two is seven. And you can still, you can tell I've still got it. I can still do numbers. Oh yeah.

You never lose it. It's like riding a bike.

Yeah. But no, sadly I have. Now, like, I'm terrible at maths like. Yeah. Any, any kind of slightly complicated situation with numbers. I get very nervous, I get very nervous. But yeah. So at least, I guess for you, like you know when there's a group of six or seven of you at a dinner table and you've got to split the bill, are you comfortable with that? Do you take the the bill? Are you like, "I've got this, guys."

Yeah. Very responsible. And that's why I think I studied for three years at university to do exactly that. Uh, so really useful. Three years well spent.

I mean, you get respect for that because. Yeah, I would respect you for that anyway. So let's let's not digress any more.

Digress. Meaning get distracted and talk about something else. So we're talking about university. You went to Reading. Can you locate that on a map, on an invisible map, using your vocabulary?

Ok, well I suppose let's start with London, because most people know where that is and then go west of London for about 25 minutes on a train from London, Paddington, if you're asking. Maybe thirty minutes, and then you arrive in Reading basically between London and Oxford.

Actually, I love that phrase. "If you're asking" - it's brilliant, absolutely brilliant. It's used

and Martin, exampled it brilliantly there with humour. In the UK, when you feel like you've said too much detail, you can backtrack. You can you can come back and say, like 'I've realised, I've said too much detail' by saying this brilliant phrase.

If you were wondering, being sarcastic, of course, suggesting that no one cares. But of course, we care. Of course, we care. So yes. So you go twenty five minutes west of London and you're in Reading. What is Reading like?

There's not a lot there, I must admit. It's famous for a music festival and there's not a lot else there. There's the centre of the city where there are a few bars, um, which I went to quite a few times. The university is nice though. The campus, some nice big fields. Um, and yeah, there's, there's not really much. There are no, no sights to see. There's a nice shopping centre called the Oracle.

Um that's about it really.

Ok, OK. So it sounds like Reading might be a good place to keep your head down whilst studying. Did you, did you manage to keep your head down or did you experience quite a few of the the pubs, clubs and bars.

No, definitely did experience a bit of the pubs, clubs and bars. Yeah, because, like I'm sure every university city does. There were lots of student nights during the week. My favourite being a Tuesday night in a bar called Vodka Revolution, um, which was fantastic. Which is actually the reason I didn't play for the football team, um, for Reading because football matches were on Wednesdays and you weren't allowed to go out the night before a match. And I did start playing for the football team, but I just wasn't willing to give up Tuesday nights in Vodka Revolutions. So I had to jack in. So I had to stop playing football. Fantastic.

Yeah. "jack in". And so that is actually a really good example of what life is like as a university student. If you come to the UK or certainly as a British person going to a university in the UK, because, um, yeah. You put social life, or the majority of us, put your social life first, don't you? So Vodka Revolutions, it is a chain of bars and a very, a very mediocre one, I would say. I don't know about you, Martin.

Well, I think it was actually the nicest place. So that maybe gives you some more information about Reading.

Fair enough. But yeah. So, um, as a- sorry, you were playing football. So that means that you've, you've got quite a bit of skill, right? You can, you can kick a ball.

Oh, I can play, boy. I can play. Uh uh yeah. Certainly my younger days I, I was like quite good as a footballer I suppose. Um but in fact I suppose it was the university where my career kind of nosedived. So it kind of went down rapidly because I played at quite a high level before that. But then after three years of constant drinking, um, my fitness levels weren't so good. And also my coordination, I think, suffered.

Um, I'm questioning whether it was just the vodka that you were consuming.

Uh, mainly. Mainly because I think it was the the chili shots they used to do in Vodka Revolutions. Maybe it was them. I'm not sure.

Yeah. Yeah. Dangerous stuff. What would be the average, uh, drink that people would have as a student in the UK, would you say? What would be the top couple that you can think of?

Well, the first one that springs to mind certainly in the student union is a drink, which we refer to as "snakebite", and which, I must admit, I was never like a massive fan of. I believe it's half a pint of cider and half a pint of beer. Is that right?

I would have guessed that, yeah.

And then a little bit of- um, yeah, blackcurrant. That's right, isn't it.

Yeah, a bit of blackcurrant. Yeah. Half beer, half cider and a little bit of blackcurrant. Is that right.

That's right. I believe. And there were a few of these, there was one as well which I believe was referred to as a "turbo shandy", which I think was half a pint of beer and a Smirnoff ice. Which strangely enough, last year actually my friend got married and we had the stag do so, like the party before the wedding, and his younger brother came along who was quite a bit younger than us, not nearly ten years. And his brother said to me, Do you want to drink a turbo shandy? And just to try and feel young again, I thought, yeah, you know, let's have a turbo shandy. And I felt extremely bloated, so like bloated. My stomach was, had lots of air in, let's say, and kind of ruined my night really and couldn't really have fun. That's, that's why I'm 'rock and roll', that's why I'm 'rock and roll'. Yeah, through and through.

Absolutely. Yeah. So, snakebite.

Yeah, that was one I felt like the general requirement of a university drink was it taste disgusting and for it to be very, very strong and cheap. Mm hmm. Oh yeah. Cheap was extremely important. Yeah. Yeah. And that came about, I mean going out, that for me was like at least two to three times a week to the level of almost blacking out. Almost can't remember your, your night. Often it was, it was not that level, but you know, you drink that much that it was possible. Is that your situation?

Oh, 100 percent. 100 percent. Yeah. Um, like the classic thing that we did, for example, would be to like, drink a bottle of vodka before going out. So even by the time you actually like by the time you get out, you're already more than half. So half can't be like, you know, like almost half drunk, let's say more than that. And yeah, waking up with, like, massive memory loss. One time in particular, I remember I woke up in bed and I looked at the ceiling. I didn't realise where I was. And normally this kind of story goes. And then there was a beautiful girl lying next to me or something like that. But what actually happened was it was just a friend. And I stayed at his house. He changed house. And, um, I had no idea where I was, but I had no recollection of actually going back to his house or why I decided to do that. Oh, God. Wow.

I probably shouldn't say this story, but you've reminded me. I remember a situation similar to that. And I woke up and I saw this this picture of a group of girls, and I recognised one of them from a trip to Thailand. And I had met her in Thailand. And I had actually spent the night with her. And I looked over and it wasn't her. And it was, it turned out was her best friend and she knew her. And then the next morning she realised. It was drama after drama.

Wow. I mean, the chances of that of- no. Wow, that's impressive. Yeah, quite, quite a lot better than my story of just waking up with my friend.

Well, I might have preferred my friends to like me in that situation, but yeah. So generally speaking, we had quite messy nights, it sounds like. And I feel like that was the general, like, life of a British person who goes to the university. Um, and a lot of people joke about getting a degree in FIFA. Did you get a degree in FIFA during this three year stint?

I actually got a degree in Pro Evolution Soccer, which was the the rival game, uh, maybe our age differences is showing here, because when I went to university, so from 2004 to 2007, Pro Evolution Soccer was definitely the number one game. So I, I definitely got a degree in that. And I'm even now I'm not willing to play FIFA because I kind of feel like Pro Evolution Soccer was like my wife. And I feel like my, my wife has tragically passed away. So she's died. And I don't want, I'm not ready for another relationship with FIFA. So I, I haven't gone there. I haven't done it yet.

Oh, that's funny. Yeah. Well, I, I don't I don't want to encourage you to cheat on your dead wife so you can do whatever you want to do. Yeah, you're right. PES, as what we called it. Pro Evolution Soccer was the dominant one then. But yeah. So my point was that we would play a lot of video games. The guys would. And the girls, what would the girls do. They would they would drink a lot. They would, they would socialise, probably. They would probably talk a lot more than us. We would just play and drink, play video games and drink and play sports.

Yeah, definitely. Because when I actually went to university in the first year in dorms, so like the dormitory, sort of each person has their own room. We were on the ground floor and it was all boys. And then on the first floor was all girls.

And yeah, we used to spend our days like in someone's room around a TV each with like a PlayStation controller in our hands, whilst the girls would often sit in the kitchen and actually talk to each other, which thinking back is probably the best thing to do. But it certainly didn't feel like it at the time.

That's right. Yeah, that's true. Yeah, I remember that as well. The girls being the kitchen boys would be in one bedroom, all on a double bed or like a single bed, like all five of us. Not my turn. My turn to play my. Exactly.

Oh good Lord. I think we might need to stop there because I just went through the real English that has come up in the conversation so far. And we have 30 fantastic phrases from just that first part of the conversation.

So we will leave it there to not overwhelm you with too many new phrases. But I should say I have turned all of this into a lesson over on the British English Podcast Academy. And of course, the conversation doesn't end there. We go on for another 25 odd minutes talking about student accommodation and campus life with even more amazing language for you to wrap your head around, meaning for you to try to understand. And again, I include all of that in the academy, breaking down the language in exclusive video content, manually edited transcripts, interactive quizzes and so much more. So if you'd like to continue listening to this conversation and study the content from this podcast to the point where you feel confident actually using it yourself in conversation, then head over to the And after saying that, I can confirm that we are at the end of the season. Have you enjoyed the journey? I hope so. We've had quite the variety of episodes. We started off with an introduction of how and why this podcast is being made. We then heard from British friends about the stereotypes attached to the Brits, and I then interviewed a South African and Aussie and a New Zealander to see if they agree. We went into the pub together to make you feel more confident the next time you go. We had Shana on, from the American English podcast, who talked about parenting differences between the UK and America.

And then we had another one man show that took us through British humour. We talked about ageing and cricket with Harry. And then, of course, we finished in style with Martin from the Rock and Roll English podcast, who, as I said, does a fantastic job over there. So if you haven't checked his stuff out before, then I highly recommend you to do so. But yes, that is the end of Season One. I hope we can do Season Two together. The original aim of this podcast was to create an affordable online academy which would accompany each episode to help intermediate and above English learners to dive deep into the usage of British, English and culture. So if you would like to see another season, then head over to the website and see if you would be interested in studying with me in the Academy, which would indeed help support this podcast to keep going and bring you Season Two of The British English Podcast. But thank you so much for joining me for today's episode. If you haven't listened to the whole of Season One, then what are you waiting for? Go and enjoy it. I hope to be seeing you soon to help you enjoy the journey you are on, improving your English and better understanding British culture. My name is Charlie. Please do give this podcast a review if you haven't yet.

And goodbye for now with a big inappropriate digital kiss from me.

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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

Character: Chris:
I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

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I'd like to recommend the academy because...its contents are very interesting and authentic so, you learn a lot about British culture, be it in respect of society, habits and traditions and all with a touch of humour, which I really appreciate. 
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The academy content hones, not only on the vocabulary from intermediate to Advanced but it also packed with humour, as the host, Charlie really breaks down the expressions in every video of every episode, helping their vocabulary sink in and be used, actively in your speech.
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About Your Teacher

Charlie Baxter

Teacher, Podcast Host, YouTuber
Charlie is the host and creator of The British English Podcast & Academy. He has also been an active YouTube English Teacher since 2016 but after seeing how many of his students wanted a more structured, carefully designed way to study he decided to create The British English Podcast Academy.

It focuses on British culture, informal expressions, accent and history that is all unique to the UK.

Charlie has spent 6000+ hours teaching intermediate-advanced students since 2014 privately on Skype and has seen a lot of different styles of learning and while he believes there will never be a single CORRECT way to improve your English there are a large number of methods that people use that do waste people's time and prevent them from improving quickly.

So Charlie decided to create The Academy because he believes he knows a VERY effective way to improve your English quickly and enjoyably.