Friday, November 25, 2011

Yoga for my life

Many years ago, I was asked by one of my yoga teachers, “Have you cried while doing yoga?”At that time, I didn’t really take this question personal, although I really enjoyed moving my body into various positions and relaxing my mind through abdominal respiration.

A few days ago, I fully realized what that meant. I went to the yoga school early in the morning. Since my body felt stiff and cramped up due to sitting at a computer for a while, I impulsively searched for a yoga place in the neighborhood out of frustration and joined the class without much expectation.

It was my first yoga class since I came to New Jersey. Actually, I wanted to try different things, which I had never done before, so I have enjoyed trying many different classes such as zumba, body sculpt, belly dancing, and kickboxing in the gym. However, none of them gave me a genuine relaxation and emotional enforcement.

While only focusing on my body and mind in doing yoga, I felt totally free from all the distractions. I almost cried because I was suddenly reminded of the question, “Have you cried while doing yoga?” 

Through the experience of yoga for almost 5 years, I have realized that healthy mind, happy mind and holy mind can be established while taking a deep breath and stretching my body. Besides, while doing yoga, I do not have to compete with others because I am different from others and I know well that each of us is special. Thus, I do not have to set my goals by what other people believe are important in yoga. Only I know what is best for me. My style of yoga adapts to an individual’s needs- no matter who I am because it is yoga for everybody.

So I can be confident enjoying yoga even though I am not good at every motions. Also, I am relieved that I do not have to be very flexible or strong to enjoy yoga. You do not have to “put yourself in “pretzel” poses to enjoy increased energy, vitality, strength and flexibility” (“Yoga for your life”, Margaret D. Pierce & Martin G. Pierce).

Actually I was surprised that the approach of yoga was the opposite from the other exercises.  These phrases, such as “Push a little harder!”, “Come on, just one more!”, and “You can do it!” are familiar to most sports. As far as I know, they force us to reach our limitation. But, it is different in Yoga. These phrases, such as “Pain rarely brings gain.” and “Avoid competing with others!” are the concept of yoga.

What is more, I get side effects during yoga like being able to look at my true nature. I could ask more fundamental questions of myself while doing yoga such as, “Who am I?”, “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?”  Meditation already begins when I decide to take a break from my daily activities and turn my attention inward. I bet yoga is the best way of relaxing my body, my mind, and my spirit.

I know all of you must be so busy with your studies since the final is just around the corner. However, I want you to make some time for relaxing. Yoga can be highly recommended for getting rid of all the confusions and distractions. Eventually, you can concentrate on your studies more. Why don’t you sign up for a yoga class?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My name, Sooseon

According to Lakoff and Johnson “Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action.”(1980,”Metaphors We Live By”). Therefore, our ordinary conceptual system is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. Personally, I havent taken metaphoric expressions seriously in my life. However, I realize that a metaphor could impact a person’s thought and behavior through my personal experience.

For almost 8 months, I was actively engaged in Facebook. Eventually, I was invited to some exclusive clubs on Facebook. Among those clubs, I was more attached to the club, “The Village of Poets” which was composed of the members mostly from the same college that I attended in Korea. My nickname in the club was “Flower” Actually they call me “Flower” in a more polite way, using a poetic term because of the origin of my name. My name is Sooseon, which is a name of flower, Daffodil. Daffodil is literary translated into Sooseonwha in Korean. The word, “wha ()” means flower. I wrote a short essay about my name on the wall posting of the club. Actually, I got my name from my father who passed away 4 years ago, and a special memory of him related to my name has been enshrined in my heart.

Since I explained to them what my name, Sooseon meant in the essay, they began to call me, “Flower” in a beautiful way. Some of them even told me that my image looked just like Daffodil. To be honest, I was happy to hear that. Mostly, I focused on the appearance of the flower, Daffodil at first, but I came to realize that the image of the flower became internalized inside me and had an influence on my identity. I noticed that I have changed the way I think, talk, and behave in my daily life. The metaphor, “Sooseon is flower” has transformed me in the positive way although it was shared within a small group of members, approximately 60 people on Facebook.

For example, whenever something upsets me, I find that I hardly express my frustration in a negative way and even I am not angry as often as I used to be. I talk to myself, “I’m a flower!", "A flower doesn’t shout at people." or "A flower should not act like this way.”

 Some people may say, the metaphorical expressions: “You are what you eat!”,“You are what you think!”, “You are what you do!”, “You are what you wear!”, but I want to add by saying, “You are what you are called!” Among these mentioned above, the metaphor “You are what you are called really worked in my case. It proves that “all the aspects of our lives are fulfilled by metaphors and metaphorical concepts and our behavior is also framed in a metaphorical system.” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980)

I hope I will live my life by the metaphor, “flower” and continuously spread the aroma of the flower, Daffodil, to others.

Here is a story about my name.

My Lovely Name, Sooseon

I got my name, “Sooseon” from my father. Actually, it is the name of a flower, “Daffodil”. That’s why my father picked the name for me. Most Korean names can be expressed in Chinese characters. So my name also has a meaning by using Chinese characters, which means “endless good”. Two other words have the same sound as my name, Sooseon. One word means “noisy”. The other one means “repair”. In my school days, some of my friends teased me by saying “You’re so noisy,” or, “You should be repaired like shoes, or bags, or something like that”. I still remember how embarrassed I was in math class just because of my name. We learned a new math term meaning a straight, vertical line; however, it sounded exactly like my name, “Sooseon”. All of a sudden, my classmates burst into laughter. My face just turned red.

I desperately wanted to baptize myself under a new name, something which seemed ordinary, so it functioned as nothing other than a name. Out of frustration, I widely complained to my father about not having the sense to give his child a good name. Whenever I begged him to change it, he always explained how beautiful my name was and ignored me. I sometimes cursed my name in secret and blamed my father’s indifference.

Since I have grown up, nobody around me has dared to make fun of my name. On the contrary, people have started to worship my name. For instance, “Wow, your name is so unique and easy to remember!”, “Who gave you that name? I think the person must have a good style.” Although I am not sure exactly when I began to be proud of my name and its many meanings, I can say I’ve refined and tempered myself due to the influence of my good name.

Because it also means “endless good”, I constantly make an effort to control my mind and be kind to others. This trait has made me peaceful and flexible. My name means “flower” as well and made me aware of how to keep in shape and not to excuse myself in terms of being attractive as a woman just because I am getting older. As I mentioned, it means being “noisy”, so I never make my life boring. I never neglect to try something new and don’t mind doing something risky to improve myself and to fulfill my personal destiny. Thanks to the meaning to “repair”, I sometimes take a quiet time to reflect on myself and examine my life to live at my full potential. And the meaning “straight vertical line” reminds me not to compromise with others just for the sake of convenience and not to be afraid of being against others if I don’t agree.

One more benefit of my name is that I could choose “Susan” as my American name without hesitation since it sounds very similar to my Korean name, “Sooseon”.

Now, I am relieved to think back that whenever I complained, my father persuaded me to think I have a special name instead of submitting a change-of-name form to the government. My father passed away four years ago. I regret that I didn’t have any chance to express how thankful I am to him for giving me such a wonderful name. My life will be the continuous process of proving my name’s worth, as it always has been.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Get. See. Do!

Sarit Lotem
Social Media Consultant, Web Designer, Gadget Lover…
When I first met Sarit at the mall in my neighborhood by chance, we hit it off. We talked about the movie, “Black Swan” and she told me about her blog, “Get. See. Do”. Her blog is automatically linked to Facebook, so I could read through Facebook, as well.

I’ve realized her blog is all about American culture that she has experienced since she moved to America from Israel 10 years ago. She talks about the places she visited, restaurants she loves, great movies she watched, and good book she read. I enjoy reading her blog, so I even visited the places and tasted some food she recommended. I am sure that the information from her blog would be also good for international students who want to taste local culture in their free time.  
Last Friday, Sarit and I sat down and talked about her blog and her interest.

1. Could you please introduce yourself? You can talk about your academic background and career.

I'm a mom for two children with a great husband. Luckily we all share our love for fantastic food and interesting places to visit. I'm also a web designer with a strong passion for art. I got my degree in an art college some 15 years ago in Israel. I build modern and friendly user websites with SEO, Facebook, Twitter and other social media integration for small business. So, I am a social media consultant, web designer, and gadget lover as I wrote in my profile. I came to America 10 years ago and since then, I can't stop exploring.

2. What made you start your blog? Is it also related to your current job?
Are you getting sponsored by the shops, restaurants, or any companies that you mention on your blog?

No sponsoring. I write only about things I truly love. I don't even tell those places that I wrote about them. What is the reason I started to write? It's very simple, I found myself repeating the same stories of great experiences we had with different people on a different occasions. It made me think that if I post and publish my experiences, it will get to more of my friends easily. I didn't think that people from Australia or China will read it. 

3. What do you recommend international students to do while staying in the United States besides studying, in terms of your perspective on your blog, ”Get, See, Do” ?

Get, see, and do as much as they can! It's the only way to get a new experience and enjoy the new surroundings. Try new food, go to a show, and talk to people on the street! Ask local people for recommendations, they know the best!

4. Could you give international students some advice for their academic achievement and career development?

As far as for the career development, it's a tough time with a tough market out there; for every position there are more than one jumper. Don't hesitate to start from point 0 and work hard, if you are good, you will be noticed and climb your way up.

Thank you so much for making time for the interview!
I hope your blog will be more known to international people, so they can enjoy the local culture by getting, seeing, and doing it while they are staying here in the States.

Here are her latest blog postings I want to share with you.
You can enjoy them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Go to the Job Fair! Get the picture of your career fiedl!~

Some international students might think that they are not attractive to prospective employers in the United States, so they plan to go back to their home country right after finishing their studies.

One day, I was surprised to hear from one international student that she was not going to a career fair on campus because no employer would be interested in hiring international students.

You may say, “We attended the job fair on campus last semester, but it was quite disappointing because not many companies in our career field participated and they did not seem to be interested in talking with international students” Some students may wonder what the point of attending the career fair is if most of the employers told them to apply online.

However, the reason why employers ask candidates to post their resume on line is because technology contributes to more effective and cost effective application process. Actually it does not hurt for you to post your resume through online even if you meet employers in person and show your resume on the spot.

Thus, I encourage all of you to participate in the job fair! By going to the job fair, you can get a perspective of what employers look for, what your major looks like in the current job market, and what are some trends in your career field. It does not matter whether you currently have a job or not.

Here is the blog that explains why career fairs are important for everyone.

However, I want to emphasize that attending a career fair is more important for international students who have not had any working experience in the United States. Although you cannot be offered a job, you may have a chance to work in the training program that companies usually offer through the career fair. The internship experience will work like one tool to make you stand among the candidates for your future job interview.

“Be positive! You should know that you are more competitive than the other candidates because you speak at least two languages and understand cultural differences through your personal experience let alone your knowledge of your major.

Keep in mind when you go to the job fair,

Be dressed professionally!

Bring at least 20 resumes!

Prepare for meeting prospective employers!

Who knows, you can be offered a good job on the spot or get a chance to do an interview in your dream job at the career fair.

Oh one more thing that I want to remind you is, "Consult your career development advisor to polish your resume and learn how to prepare for the interview! "

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why is a college education so valuable?

Whenever I see young people have a hard time studying in a college, I encourage them to keep working no matter how hard it can be. I want to make it sure that your efforts and time in college education will pay off in a great way for your future.

Although the higher education has influence on our lives in many ways, in this article I want to emphasize three areas, such as job, marriage and health.

People with a college degree can earn more money on average than people who do not have a college education.

1. The higher your education level, the higher your
chances of finding and keeping a job.
2. The more education you have, the more you can expect
to earn and the less likely you will be unemployed.

In the competitive global economy, the significant amount of opportunity is more available for college graduates. Therefore, you must first understand how important college education would be in order to give yourself the best chance for a well-paying job.

Highly educated couples less likely to have marital problems.

1. Degreed couples tend to share intellectual interests
and the partitioning of household roles.
2. Education’s influence on job stability and career
growth also tend to solidify marriage.

According to a new study by the National Marriage Project, divorce rates for couples with college degrees are far lower, just a third of that for couples who have only high school degrees. (cited in )
Surprisingly, the proportion of married people without college degrees is actually going down in the U.S. It seems that young couples without a college education do not take their relationship seriously or are not ready for their commitment to their married life.

More education increases the likelihood of a long, healthy life.

1. Education is the more significant predictors
of longevity than genetics and affluence.
2. College graduates are likely to have better
health insurance and retirement plan

It is rather surprising to find out that education enhances health and life expectancy regardless of genetic predisposition, income, race, or geographic location. (cited in

It seems like that education is even more critical to longevity than wealth. I think well- educated people are more likely to realize at a younger age that health care and healthy life styles are essential part of their life.

There are many more reasons why college education is important, but the three factors mentioned above, such as job security, marriage, and longevity are most noticeable.

Actually, I have felt sorry whenever I see some international students easily give up studying in an American college due to the language barrier, cultural differences and homesickness although you put a great amount of effort to come over to the United States. Thus, I want to emphasize to you that college education is important because it gives us opportunities for leading a successful life in the areas of job, marriage and health.

Don’t give up on your dream! You will taste the fruit of your hard work soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to make Kimchi

Since I am Korean, I often have been asked from the people around me how to make kimchi. Many of you probably know that kimchi is a Korean traditional food. Actually, most of the people interested in kimchi are from Asian countries. I talked about how your home country food can be helpful for mitigating your homesickness in the previous posting, How to deal with homesickness..  With kimchi being such a Korean staple, there is even Kimchi Expo in Korea. I think tasting kimchi will be another adventure for those who have not tasted it yet.

 In the global era, sharing each other’s traditional food is a good way of connecting people all over the world. Every culture has its own unique culinary tradition. Experiencing different culture through food is also a part of education. Therefore, in addition to studying in America, learning different culture through food can give you an opportunity to broaden your horizon.

Actually, sharing food is the easiest way to make friends in a foreign environment. Why don’t you teach your friends how to make your traditional food and in turn, learn their native food?

This is a video clip that will show how to make kimchi:

2 1/2 pounds napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt, a walnut-sized know of ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch scallions,  minced
2 tablespoons crushed red chili pepper
2 jalapenos, minced fine
A concoction of half a ripe apple, half a ripe pear, half a yellow onion
2 tablespoons of anchovy sauce of fish sauce
a glass or plastic bowl
1 2-to-3 1-pint glass canning jar
plastic wrap
rubber bands

The process of making Kimchi

Step 1> Separate the leaves and chop them up into bite-size pieces. These shreds of cabbage will shrink about 25% during processing, so no need to make them too small. And no need to
clean them yet, as you’ll be giving them a good rinse in a bit.

Step 2> Measure out a quarter cup of sea salt.
Salt extracts water from kimchi by osmosis, making it crisp.

Step 3> And add it to a small bowl of warm water.

Step 4> Give it a gentle stir until the salt is dissolved.

Step 5> Now add the salt water to the cabbage and give the cabbage a light toss to distribute the salt water.

Step 6> Now a bit of waiting time. The salted cabbage needs to sit at room temperature for about four hours. The salt will help draw moisture out of the cabbage, and will also act as a natural preservative.

Step 7> If you look closely, you’ll see a small pool of salt brine at the bottom of the bowl. Now grease up your elbows and wash and strain the cabbage two or three times. You want to rinse off the salt water and return the cabbage to a large bowl.

Step 8> Measure out a quarter cup of kochookahrhoo, also known as fine red chili flakes/ powder.

Step 9> Add a quarter cup of warm water and mix with a spoon until the chili powder/flakes turn into a bit of paste.

Step 10> Transfer the red pepper paste to the cabbage.

Step 11> Plus a tablespoon of minced garlic.

Step 12> Add a tablespoon of finely chopped/ minced ginger.
The garlic and chili pepper help to preserve kimchi

Step 13> Three to four green onions, sliced.

Step 14> Two tablespoons of anchovy sauce of fish sauce. If you prefer a vegetarian version, you can skip this step.

Step 15> And now for the secret ingredient that sets this kimchi apart from most commercially prepared varieties: a concoction of half a ripe apple, half a  ripe pear, and half a yellow onion, all blended up with one cup of water. This apple/pear/onion blend adds a hint of natural sweetness to the kimchi –most commercial varieties simply add a cup of sugar.

Step 16> Now put on a pair of gloves so that you can get right in there and give everything a solid toss and rubdown. Gloves are necessary, as the red chili flakes/powder will make your bare hands burn.

Step 17> You want to bottle the kimchi up in glass bottles, cap them, and leave them out at room temperature for 24 hours before refrigerating.

 Don’t fill the jars right up to their tops, as the contents will expand a bit as the kimchi ferments, and filling the jars to their rims will likely result in leakage.

Step 18> After 24 hours of fermentation out in room temperature, transfer capped bottles to the refrigerator and take portions out as needed. The kimchi will continue to ferment while refrigerated, and will keep for at least a month. The longer it ferments, the more sour it will get.

Kimchi will keep refrigerated for up to a week. Do not attempt to heat-process kimchi.

If you prefer kimchi that isn’t sour at all, you should use these bottles up within a week or so. 

 (cited in  How to Make Kim Chi)

There is an old saying that sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly (M.F.K, Fisher) It is a privilege for you to have a wonderful experience of staying in American society, where many different cultures from around the world live together. To become a leader in this rapidly changing global era, you need more than computer skills, English language proficiency and the knowledge of your major. Thus, making friends from different cultures by sharing cross-cultural food is highly recommended while your staying in America. It is because the ability of understanding various cultures will be useful regardless of your career field in the future.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Western Style Writing vs. Eastern Style Writing

I know well that most of the international students are not really confident in writing papers, even when they have spent a considerable amount of time and effort studying in English both in their home country and the United States.

As time goes by, most of them will eventually be skilled in speaking English regardless of their native accents. However, many students still have a hard time composing papers for their assignments in college, although apparently, they have no difficulty communicating with native English speakers. Needless to say, their problem of writing in English mostly results from their lack of language proficiency and academic level vocabulary power.

Even after painstaking efforts to master the English language, some may still have problems writing in English. It is because they do not really pay attention to the English writing style. I want to discuss this issue at this moment because one of the most overlooked factors is the different writing styles based on the cultural differences.

Here is the article about the contrastive analysis of eastern and western writing styles in the blog that I want to introduce you to take a look at:

Western Style Writing vs. Eastern Style Writing

This article was not written based on academic literature review, as the author, Aaron Brazell confessed that he is not an expert in this field, but he discussed the different writing styles according to the cultural perspective based on his careful observation.

Brazell started his professional blog on May of 2004, He has carried on a wide variety of conversations and discussions on his blog. He explained the differences between western and eastern writing styles clearly in plain language

He emphasized in his blog that a western style post typically has the thesis up front; an article written in an eastern style generally has the thesis statement in the middle of the piece.

Some controversial comments from the readers of his blog can give you a chance to ponder over this topic. One of the readers’ comments, I found some interesting point of view regarding different speaking styles based on cultural differences. For instance, some Indian candidates living in Britain would be disadvantaged on job interviews due to circular and non direct answering of questions although they are well qualified.

You will check your organization of contents and structure of development in your writing in light of western composition style.

I want to drop more lines about the differences of eastern and western writing style based on my personal experience and literature review. Here is my observation regarding this topic.

There are different organizational patterns and structures for different language based on the cultural differences. Kaplan’s work (1966) has suggested that Anglo-European expository essays follow a linear development; essays written in Oriental languages use an indirect approach and come to the point only at the end. (cited in Connor, 1996, p.15). To sum up, the western writing style mostly follows a deductive writing manner that has the thesis statement in the initial position and the main idea is located at the end of the first paragraph. However, the main idea is usually placed at the beginning of the last paragraph in the eastern style.

Non-native English speakers especially from eastern cultures are more likely to develop their idea in circles. They tend to write their thesis elaborately in the spiral of the context and also place interpretative responsibility on the readers rather than responsibility on the writers. This digressive writing strategy contributes to make their articles nonlinear.

Actually, I had been taught in the early student years to follow a four part pattern: ki-sung-chon-kyul, typical of Korean prose where there is an introduction, the development of a topic, a turning to a somewhat unrelated topic, and a conclusion. While working as a journalist, I avoided repetitive patterns and exhibit originality in my writing style and I was concerned about suggesting and not spelling out my idea obviously. Also, I challenged the readers to understand the topic by producing open-ended essays. Obviously it is the very opposite spectrum to the linear, conclusive, objective style of American writing Thus, I also had to make efforts to be familiar with the American writing style since I began to study in America.

In general, the western writing style can be summarized like the following:
An author’s position is stated assertively and strongly at the very beginning part of the article. Topic sentences appear in the first sentence of each paragraph, and they are strongly related to the main idea by being supported with specific details. Therefore, even if the readers read only the first sentences of each paragraph, they can figure out what the author means.

Therefore, it is important that international students learn discourse features and writing techniques of the English language so that their writings cannot be limited in their own cultural written form.

Choi, Y. H. (1988). Text structure of Korean speakers’ argumentative essays in English. The source of World English 7(2). 129-142.
Connor, U. & Johns, A. M. (1990). Coherence in writing: Research and pedagogical perspectives. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. Alexandria, Virginia. 89-94.
Connor, U. (1996). Contrastive rhetoric: Contrastive rhetoric: Cross-cultural aspects of second-language writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 28-45.