Tom: That was a really interesting article the tutor recommended about Ellen Ochoa, wasn’t it, Bella?
Bella: It certainly was, Tom. I used to dream of going into space when I was a kid. Though I know now I wouldn’t be the right kind of person for the job.
Tom: But surely they need all sorts of different types of people?
Bella: Mm, I’m not sure about that. I’d get too panicky if there were problems I think. Anyway, I found it particularly interesting to read about a spacewoman. There aren’t too many of those around. 
Tom: You’re right there! 
Bella: Anyway, I’m sure they’d be just as able as men to cope with all the challenges of the job. The article certainly suggests that Ellen was something special, the way she defied all the odds in her determination to do what she’d wanted to do ever since she was small. What I liked best were the sections which quoted her — I thought she was amazingly good at conveying what it was like to go into space. 
Tom: True. And she’s also obviously a very talented scientist.
Bella: Yes, she did amazing work and I think she sounds as if she must have been a wonderful colleague for the others in her team.
Tom: Absolutely, Bella! I also found the article interesting in what it said about the requirements for becoming an astronaut. I knew you’d have to have done loads of flight hours as an ordinary aircraft pilot of course. And I suppose it’s not that surprising they want people who are good at sport and who aren’t either too small or too tall.
Bella: Mm, well, I was surprised, Tom, that being shorter than the average was not acceptable. I wouldn’t have expected that to be an issue. But I never imagined that you needed to have a post-graduate degree. I don’t think I even realised you had to be a graduate. 
Tom: Me neither, I never imagined that. Anyway, she does have an interesting life, doesn’t she?
Bella: Yes, Tom, I know. Imagine walking in space. And having to work inside and outside the capsule when you’re weightless!
Tom: Yes, that must be extraordinary. For me I think the most interesting bit would be having to deal with all the little unexpected problems that arise, having to sort things out within your little team. That must be amazing.
Bella: Yes, it must. But I particularly was intrigued by her account of the role she sometimes has as one of the people on earth who are in control of the mission.  You know when she helps. them communicate with other astronauts in space. I thought that sounded really fascinating. Being the one person present on the ground who really understands what life is like for the space crew. She must be able to make things go much more smoothly. Anyway, all in-all I thought it was brilliant article.
Tom: Yes, it was. Thought I thought it was a pity it didn’t tell us as much as it might have done about the less pleasant sides of being in space.  I can’t believe that it’s always straightforward, that all the do is admire the views and carry out ground-breaking scientific research. There must be some low points – even if it’s only being irritated by some annoying habit of a fellow crew member or getting fed up with the same old food.
Bella: Well, we could always try to do a bit more research into that sort of area, if you liked, Tom. I wondered even if Ellen Ochoa’s experiences might make a topic for that science coursework we’ve got to do next term. Or, you know, we could see what we could learn about everyone who’s gone into space from Yuri Gagarin to the present day.
Tom: Well, I’m not sure about that. I was quite keen to do something on the funding of space research. Anyway, I suppose we could bear it in mind. But what I do fancy doing is going to a series of lectures I’ve seen advertised on astronauts and how they’re portrayed in the cinema and in books.
Bella: Wow! That sounds brilliant! Do you mind if I come along too? 
Tom: Of course not, Bella. It’d be good to together.
I got a job here six months ago and didn’t know anyone here at all. I’d visited once before with my grandparents for a day — and remember having a great time rowing on the river — but otherwise it was all quite unfamiliar territory for me. I got the local paper and looked at a few quite nice places that were being advertised in it. But they were all far too expensive. Anyway, then I went along to see another place and fell in love with it at first sight, even though it wasn’t cheap. It just had so much room  and I’d been living in such a poky little house with other students for the last three years. You don’t expect to find somewhere so nice in a place below the ground floor of a big house.  But it’s absolutely beautiful and I feel very lucky that I was able to snap it up before anyone else did.
I’d always dreamt of living on the river and I was able to rent a houseboat when I first moved here. But it really wasn’t as idyllic as I’d imagined — surprisingly noisy as people were always walking or cycling along the river bank at all hours of the day and night – and when some people from the sports club I’d joined invited me to share with them, I jumped at the chance to escape the noise!  We rent a pleasant little place in a back street in the centre of town. You’d be amazed at how peaceful it is there.  You feel as if you’re in a village. Yet, it’s still easy walking distance from work and most of the other places I like to visit in the centre. We’ve got quite a lot of decorating to do there but I enjoy that and the landlord has agreed to cover the cost of the paints, so that’s something!
One of the reasons why I took the job here was that it was the town where I’d been to Uni and I had a great time here. The city has brilliant facilities for young people. So I was looking forward to living here again. When I was studying I’d lived with my aunt who had a flat here and I’d rather thought I might be able to do that again. It’d have been a great cheap option. But unfortunately her work posted her abroad just before I was due to move back here. She had to sell her flat so I had to find an alternative at relatively short notice. Most of the flats that were being advertised turned out to be already taken when I called, but in the end I found one.  I agreed to take it because I was able to move in at once. It’s in an old house and it has a nice large attic which has been converted into a one-bedroom flat.  I haven’t got to know any of my neighbours yet, but hopefully they’ll become friends.
I was lucky to get the place where I live. It’s a really convenient location in that it’s right beside both the railway and the bus station. But that’s not why I moved there. In fact, it’s a flat that belongs to my workplace and they rent it out at a very reduced rates to member of staff. [24,29] I was really pleased as it’ll make it easier to save up for a place of my own. My long-term dream is to buy an old cottage in a lovely quiet country village and redecorate it from scratch, so that it’s beautifully modern inside while being very picturesque and old-world outside. Anyway, the place I’ve got here is pretty nice – it’s got plenty of room, which I’m enjoying after several years of living in a cramped student room in a modern hall of residence. And the views are surprisingly good, given that I’m only on the second floor.
I’d been living in this town for ages, first in a student hostel – which was fun because I always had friends on hand – and then in a shared house – which was also great, both cheap and right next door to the fitness centre where I was actually working at the time. However, then I got a much better paid job at the other side of town and decided I could afford to look for something a bit better. I was longing for somewhere with a bit more space by then. Anyway, a colleague in my new job lived in a houseboat on the river. I had dinner with him one night and he persuaded me to get the one moored next to his which was for sale. It’s tiny but I love it.  Mainly because it is so beautifully done up inside — all exactly to my taste.  All my family are taking turns to visit — there’s only space for one spare bed!