C:I could go for that. But I'm afraid our budget is a little tight this year.
T:oh, but I really need to leave this town for a change. Working day after day has worn me out. Do you have any other suggestions?
C:we should probably think about going somewhere that isn't too far away. How about the countryside? There must be many interesting places, and we could enjoy the fresh air and the delicious local specialties.
T:wonderful! I think that's a great idea. How soon until we can make this happen? I can't wait!
C: tomorrow I have an appointment with my dentist. What about next Monday?
T: perfect. I'll start preparing tomorrow. If we're going to drive, I'll need to fill up the tank.
C: no need. I think it's still plenty full. Even so, I'd rather travel by bus or train. It would cost much less than driving. Oil prices are soaring nowadays, you know.
T: we can take the train, that will be faster. I'll book the tickets tomorrow morning.
C: great! Oh, one more thing, don't forget to check the weather before we go. I'd hate to get caught in the rain.
T: no problem. I'm really looking forward to the coming week.
C: Me, too. Now let's make a list for what we need to take with us.
L:what do you mean?
J:I mean look at all these magnificent tall buildings around us.
L:yes, look over there. That's the Empire State Building. My book says it's 102 stories tall.
J:it's quite famous but don't you think it looks a bit old-fashioned?
L:you're right, but when it was built in 1930 it was a marvel of technology and engineering.
J:what other important buildings are we going to see on Fifth Avenue?
L:quite a number. Actually every skyscraper has a history. A few blocks ahead we'll see St.Patrick's Cathrdral and just across the street will be the world-renowed Rockefeller Center. It's a landmark in the history of architecture.
J:what's there after that?
L:well then, there's a Central Park. Facing the park on Fifth Avenue is probably some of the most expensive properties in the world.
J:what are all they for?
L:most of them are office buildings, huge department stores, and hotels but some are just private homes. New York is one of the financial centers of the worls so there are lots of very expensive places.
N: great. My family came to visit me.
I: oh, you must be very happy. How many people are there in your family?
N: my immediate family is very large. It's my mother, my father, my two older brothers, my younger sister and me.
I: I have a small family. They are my parents, my younger brother and me.
N: I thought you were the only child in the family. Didn't China practice the only-child policy in the early 1980s?
I: yes, it did. But my parents are ethnic minority people. It's a preferential policy for an ethnic minority family to have two children.
N: interesting. What do you think about families with only one child?
I: the child must feel very longly. My younger brother is 10 years younger than me. Before he was born, I used to be the only child and always dreamed that I would have a younger sister or brother one day.
N: do you get along well with each other?
I: yes, we are very close. He is 12 years old and very smart. He always makes us laugh a lot.
N: you are very lucky to have such a nice family.
I: thank you.
N: I don't know. My life is a big mess. Everything is so compliceted.
C: come on, nothin can be that bad.
N: but promise me, you'll keep it a secret.
C: ok, I promise. So what's troubling you so much?
N: I've fallen in love with my boss.
C: really? Is he married?
N: no, of course not. He is still single.
C: then what's your problem?
N: I try to keep it to myself. But there is a lot of gossip about us.
C: oh, I see. Office romance tends to be the subject of gossip.
N: worse still, he is trying to avoid me these days.
C: office romance is very tricky.
N: it gives me a lot of pressure and I feel depressed.
C: cheer up, Nada. You'll be fine.
L: it was wonderful, but I was so tired.
J: did you go to the top of the Eiffel Tower?
L: yes, that was the first thing we did. We went all the way to the top. There were visitors from all over the world taking photos there.
J: what else did you see?
L: art galleries, cathedrals, statues, fountains, palaces, bistros, there's really too much to say.
J: you must have had a great time.
L: yes, at the beginning we were all excited and had lots of fun. However, on the third day of traveling in the city, I felt sick. I think I had something bad to eat, but it passed by the evening.
J: yes, you need to be careful with what you eat when you're abroad. Sometimes new food might disagree with you.
L: on the fouth day, we went to taste the French cuisine. That was really fantastic! And no stomach problems.
J: that is great. Everyone says French food is wonderful.
L: you'll have to try for yourself some day.
S: that's true. But I have a low opinion of those women who go out with foreigners.
N: oh, why?
S: I think some Chinese wonem marry foreigners for money while others just want to live abroad. There is no true love between them.
N: I wouldn't say that's totally true. I've met many happy intercultural couples.
S: well, then why aren't there many East-West couples where the man is a Chinese and the woman is a Westerner?
N: I guess it's because the Chinese women are more attractive to Western men.
S: or because they are less attractive to to Chinese men.
N: what do you mean?
S: you know, usually the woman is in her thirties and she is a left girl.
N: a left girl? What's that?
S: they're called that because they're left behind on the shelf. They're also known by their three H's---high diploma, high salary, and high degree.
N: and they're also known as the three S's—single, stuck, and born in the seventies.
S: definitely! So most of these women go for Western men.
N: you have a point here, but I believe some mixed marriages are based on true love.
S: that' for sure but very few.