Being From Nowhere
Practice for Part 7 of the Reading Use of English paper with this sample exam about a woman called Caroline Stocker, who spent her childhood living in different places around the world.
For questions 1-10 below you need to choose the relevant section (A-D) where the information can be found. The sections may be chosen more than once.
You can check your answers by clicking on the “Answers” tab at the bottom of the page.
Being From Nowhere
As I sat down in my seat for the first day, the teacher introduced me to the rest of the class. I always tried not to draw attention to myself, but there were usually some curious looks in my direction and a few giggles from some of the students. This was most likely because my name was something they weren’t used to hearing and it provided them with some amusement. Maybe for a lot of children starting a new school this would have been a bad experience, but I didn’t really care. It was not something that I hadn’t experienced before, and I knew in a few months I would need to repeat the whole process again somewhere different. My father was a businessman, whose job required him to regularly move to different countries. It didn’t really make sense to me, but this was what my childhood was like, moving from one place to another, to different schools and different homes.
I don’t remember ever staying in one city longer than a year. I would say I almost enjoyed the constant changes at first with new places to visit, new people to meet and new houses or flats to make my home. My parents were worried about how the constant changes would affect me and always used to spoil me with lots of new toys. It wasn’t until I was about eight years old when it started to really affect me. I would start at school with no friends and often leave the same school, a few months later, still without any friends. Although this was tough, it was in some ways easier than when I did make friendships with other children because I didn’t miss anyone when we left, which I probably found the hardest thing at that age.
Having a place to call home is something most my age take for granted, but I wasn’t fortunate enough to have that luxury. I used to tell people I was from Ireland as this is where my parents are from, but was that really where I was from? Was that really my home? I probably only spent about one year in Ireland during the whole of my childhood and it certainly didn’t feel like home. After a while I became comfortable being the outsider, never really happy, but comfortable. From time to time I would feel down thinking about all the things I wanted and didn’t have, but I would soon get over it and get on with my day to day life. When I was fourteen, my father needed to move again, this time to Madrid in Spain. I just thought it would be another short-term stay and we would be moving on soon enough. Little did I know that Madrid would end up being the closest place to a real home that I would ever have.
Once in Madrid I enrolled in a British school in the city centre, and at first it began the same as all the other schools. Although, the biggest difference this time was that I was in a class with a girl who lived in the flat next to me, and over the next three months we developed a close friendship. She introduced me to her friends from the neighbourhood, and I finally had something I had never had before and didn’t even know I needed. I finally had a group of people who I could call friends. My parents loved the city too and could see how upset I was when my father needed to go to Portugal for work. They decided that enough was enough and it was finally time to make a real home. My father ended up going to Portugal for three months without us and after he came back he never went away again. I’m now twenty nine and still living in Madrid and when people ask me where I’m from, I simply say, Madrid.