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Writer's Block is a quarterly publication of Online English Stage 1-2. Funded by the Government of Saskatchewan.

Bios

My Life in Canada

Author: Albina S.
Level: 5
Instructor: Nodira I.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

My name is Albina, and I would like to tell you my story about my life in Canada. I was born and raised in Ukraine. If I had been told five years ago that I would live in Canada, I would have never believed that. But I have met my future husband who changed my whole life. He got work visa and moved to Canada in 2015. I graduated from the university in Ukraine and followed him in 2016.

My first time in a new country was very hard. It was difficult to find a job and comunicate with people in English. But I didn't expect that so many Ukrainians live here. They helped me with finding my first job. I worked as a homecare aid and helped elderly people. In a couple of months, I found an additional job as a waitress in a restaurant. I improved my English while working in the restaurant.

In 2018, we obtained the Canadian Permanent Resident status. We were waiting for that moment for two years. This is our first big achievement in Canada.

Another great achievement is that in July, 2019 I became a mother. We have a son now. That moment we were the happiest people in the world. However, I have never thought that it would be so difficult to be the mother of an infant. First three months of being a mother were very, very stressful. I was upset that my parents were so far from us, and they couldn't help me. Big thanks to my husband who supported me in those moments. Nevertheless, I have never regretted that I live in Canada because we and our son will get better life here than in Ukraine.

Now things are getting better. Three months after our son was born, our parents came to visit us for two weeks. I got a little rest, but it helped me so much to regain my strength. Right now I enjoy being a mother! Comparing my first year here and now, I can tell that I became more fluent in English.

We have many plans and hope for the future. We plan to move to a bigger city so that we have more opportunities. We want to buy a house and apply for a citizenship. It is also my dream to be a qualified professional in Canada.

For me, Canada is the country of opportunities; we have to seize the moment and follow our dreams.

 


Canada

My Small Business in Canada

Author: Hae P.
Level: 5
Instructor: Nodira I.
Photo Credit: Przemyslaw Koch / 123RF Stock Photo

Empty wooden bar counter with defocused background of restaurant, bar or cafeteria and copy space

My husband and I run a small bar in partnership with another couple – our family friends. We have been in business for 4 months. The bar is open from 11 am till around 1 am. We serve lunch and dinner as well as drinks and snacks. We do everything by ourselves – shopping, cooking, cleaning, serving, washing dishes, accounting, advertising and many more.

It is not easy to work in a bar for many reasons. There were so many things to learn such as the names of the drinks, cocktails, food, as well as the characteristics of the guests. We made a lot of mistakes. We messed up with people’s orders several times. It was even harder for me because I didn't speak English well. It is also challenging because we work long hours. However, we keep doing our best and improving our service!

Nevertheless, despite the challenges, I am happy that we have this business. The bar is located in our small town, so the guests are very friendly and nice. We have many regular customers. It is also convenient to work with a friend because we rotate shifts. I am using Google Translate to check the meaning of words that I do not understand. What is more, I love making cocktails – mixing different ingredients like a magician!

Overall, I am happy to have this job and be independent! hope our business will grow and we will be able to give better future to our children.

 


Canada and I

Author: Hennadii K.
Level: 3
Instructor: Inara M.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

canada flag in front of sunny sky

My name is Hennadii, I am from Ukraine. I came to Saskatchewan in August 2018 as a temporary foreign worker and I am still here. I am married, I have a wife and two kids, they are still in Ukraine.

After high school, I got a military education and an officer rank. I served for a few years in the Ukrainian army. I understood that the army wasn't the right choice for me and I left it. My body and my mind changed a lot with the army and I am glad that I got this experience. It has helped me to go ahead. I had different types of jobs after the army and it gave me many new useful skills which I use at work and in my life.

Here in Saskatchewan, I am working with a livestock and grain farm. My job is cattle herdsperson. We service over 8000 acres land and over 150 beef cows. Here, I have one coworker and he immigrated with his family to Canada over 15 years ago. I am living alone in a house at the back of the farm. It is okay for me because I do not spend time commuting to the farm every day. The farmyard is about 20 km from a little town. I have a couple friends there, I talk to them by phone.

I love and miss my family - my wife, spending all my time with our kids. My boys are 5 and 10 years old, they are doing kindergarten and 3rd grade and different sports activities. I like different kinds of sports. I like soccer the most, it is the number one sport for me.

My goals in my life are different, the most important for now are making my English better, receiving my Permanent Resident status and getting my family here in Canada.

 


Employment

My Apprenticeship

Author: Oleksandr P.
Level: 7
Instructor: Lindita T.
Photo Credit: Alexei Logvinovich / 123RF Stock Photo

Set of tools over a wood background

My name is Alex. I came to Canada five years ago as a farm worker, and after sometime I decided to develop my career in the oil & gas industry. I’ve decided to write this essay to give insight into my experience as an apprentice on steam fitter pipefitter position.

An apprenticeship is an arrangement that includes a paid-work component and an educational or instructional component, wherein an apprentice obtains workplace-relevant knowledge and skills. Nowadays, apprenticeship programs cover a wide range of roles. I started my apprenticeship one year ago, and I have already finished the 2nd semester. My goal is to finish my course with a Red Seal diploma of steam fitter pipefitter position.

Prior to obtaining my apprenticeship, I worked on a farm as a supervisor while looking for career growth opportunities and considered getting Canadian education. I was told that the oil & gas industry is a good opportunity for career development as it has a wide range of opportunities for young people. I started searching for apprenticeship opportunities and any position that would provide entry-level training and career growth opportunities.

On February 2018, I started working at Bird Constructions, and they offered me a steam fitter pipefitter position with the opportunity to start my apprenticeship in half a year.

At the very beginning of my education, I had to pass an entry exam. This exam included a couple of tests for some basic knowledge of mathematics, physics and chemistry. I passed the entry exam with 95% and started my first semester. The steam fitter pipefitter apprenticeship program includes professional and personal development opportunities, as well as networking opportunities. I had all the necessary resources and tools during my education. I could study at home or in college after classes. One semester lasted about two months. I had to attend my classes 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. After each semester, I had a final exam. Only passing the final exam with at least 80% correct answers could allow you to start the next course.

In a couple months, I am going to start my third semester, and I am very happy to return to college and have this opportunity. I can develop my professional and personal skills, and meet new interesting people. At the same time, I can keep working and further develop my career in the oil & gas industry.

 


General

Online Shopping

Author: Liping J.
Level: 5
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Nowadays, most people prefer online shopping but I like shopping in the store because when I need to buy clothes, such as a coat, pants or T-shirt, sometimes I need to try them on before I buy them. If I tried to buy them online, I wouldn't know if they would fit me or not. I don't want to buy things that don't fit me and have to mail them back. Sometimes, when you shop online, the colours of the clothes you buy also come out different. Most people like shopping online because they don't need to leave their homes. It is more convenient for them to choose their favourite items. In the store, people often come up to ask if you need help, which can get annoying. People say that online shopping saves you money. I think this might be true because often, when I check prices online and compare them to the prices in the store, they are cheaper online. However, I still personally like shopping in the store. I don't like the idea of paying with my VISA online because some stores will keep charging your card every month. My coworker bought a coffee online and the company she bought it from kept charging her card every month even though she just made a one-time purchase. I have heard of so many similar cases. It is scary that this could happen and I don't like it. Also, if I need to buy makeup online, there is nobody from the online store who can teach me how to use it. In conclusion, I prefer shopping in stores. It provides a different experience.

 


Health

#ItsGreatToBe71

Author: Roksolana D.
Level: 5
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: svetlanais / 123RF Stock Photo

Close-up of hands of the elderly person with open book

After 4 years of learning English, I finally read my first (non-children’s) book without using a Google translator and it came as a surprise but I understood everything.

For our wedding anniversary, my present from my husband was a book written by Maye Musk called “A Woman Makes A Plan.”  Of course, it couldn’t be anything more romantic but books make me happy anyway. 

I‘m not even going to try to review the whole book.  I just want to share a few moments from her story that I remember the most.

Maye Musk grew up in a family that had an airplane and a fascination for exploration.  Her parents flew across Canada, America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia in a small, canvas-covered, propeller plane with no GPS or radio. – “Most people follow the norm.  My father didn’t.  He was extraordinary.  He wanted to fly around the world,” Maye wrote in her book.  These words made me think about genes and how a person’s background can affect the next generation.  Her father, Joshua Haldeman, loved to explore so his kids grew up with a Bellanca airplane in the family.  Now his grandson, Elon, is striving to go beyond the horizon.  He launched a car into space, and he dreams to establish a Mars colony by 2040 with a population of 80,000.

Maye’s parents immigrated to Canada from England and her mother grew up in Moose Jaw.  Later, both of her parents moved to Regina, opened businesses, and had their kids there.  When their kids were small, they moved to South Africa where they lived most of their lives.

In another part, she mentions that they moved to Saskatchewan around the time that Elon wanted to move to Canada.  He felt like North America was the right place to pursue his computer interests.  He asked his mother to apply to regain her citizenship so the three kids could all get citizenship.  It took them a long time to get it sorted.  When the passports finally arrived, Elon was on his way to Canada three weeks later.  He landed in Montreal and called Maye’s brother but there was no answer.  Then he traveled to Toronto to find another uncle, who wasn’t there either. So, he took a bus to Saskatchewan to find his mom’s cousin.  “He just turned up on their doorstep and said, ‘Hi, I’m Maye’s son.’ That is where he turned eighteen.”

Maye had lived in nine cities across three countries.  She started her life over many times; she took chances and struggled in the beginning, but she persisted until she found success in her personal and business lives.  Things were not easy in her life - she became a single mom of three children at the age of thirty-one because she had run away from her husband who had been physically abusing her.  However, she just kept working hard, making new plans, and moving forward.

She is seventy-one now; during her seventy-one years, she became an international supermodel, registered dietitian-nutritionist, worldwide speaker, and mom of three very successful kids. Her hashtag on social media is #ItsGreatToBe71 because she is enjoying it so much.

I believe that everyone who reads this book will learn how hard it is to build your life from scratch in Canada.  We all have ups and downs, good days and bad days.  I want to believe that at 71, we will all feel great happiness as a reward for all the hard work we put in.

 


Pandemic and people

Author: Yujene O.
Level: 6
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: kotenko / 123RF Stock Photo

Self quarantine, isolation and Social Distancing in a Pandemic coronavirus COVID-19

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.  Pandemic means an epidemic that is geographically widespread, occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world.  There have been 118, 000 cases and more than 4, 000 deaths throughout the world (March 11, 2020, WHO).

The coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China in late 2019.  The virus spread to countries nearby, including China, Japan and South Korea.  The virus has also now spread to Europe and America and it has become a worldwide pandemic. 

South Korea currently ranks fourth in the amount of confirmed cases, yet the fatality rate is not proportionate to the rate of confirmed cases.  The average fatality rate for coronavirus in South Korea is 0.7%.  (Globally, about 3.4% of people reported to have COVID-19 have died. WHO, March 3, 2020).

South Korea has a brilliant medical system.  Early on, the government set to work to prevent respiratory syndrome after having MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, 2015).  During the MERS outbreak, 36 people died in South Korea, and this bitter experience made the Laboratory Medicine Foundation sensitive to the epidemic. 

As soon as a confirmed person appeared, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) set up a special department to prepare for the worst.  This special department and the Laboratory Medicine Foundation produced a test kit; they produced 20,000 kits a day.  The government declared war on coronavirus.  The CDC has created a drive-through test; it is free for confirmed positive cases, and only 16 dollars for unconfirmed people.  The whole process, from test tube to test result, is about 5 to 6 hours long, which is the shortest wait time in the world for this type of test.  The reason that South Korea seems to statistically have more positive cases than other countries is because of the test rates.  210,000 people have already been tested.  An average of 12, 000 people get tested each day (maximum 20, 000 people, March 12, 2020).

Everybody in South Korea has complete trust in the government and in the medical system.  The virus is still not at a stable level and they are still wrestling with it, but people are starting to calm down due to newfound confidence and hope.  There are a lot of volunteers who deliver food to those who are in self-isolation (this includes people who went to the areas where the virus hit in a major way) to help medical staff.  There are people who donate sanitizers, masks, food, huge amounts of money and piggy banks.  And, of course, we have hardworking doctors, nurses and medical staff working around the clock.  People are now leaning on each other and overcoming this serious pandemic together.

Here in Canada, while the number of presumptive and confirmed cases remains low, Canadians are being asked to prepare for an increase in the number of people affected by the virus.  People in Canada are currently doing well; they are practicing ‘social distancing’ and self-quarantine and are cancelling/not attending public events. 

Meanwhile, social media displays pictures of empty shop shelves, and some supermarkets have begun restricting the sale of certain goods.  Items, including toilet paper, hand sanitizer, pasta and tinned foods, are among the items that are in short supply.  The pandemic has stirred up fear.  Fear is spreading, along with the new virus, worldwide.

In those moments when fear becomes huge, we can love others even more and, in that love, to help one another.  While people become panicked and buy everything off the shelves unnecessarily (and leaving nothing for others), we need more people who think of others.  We need those who guide people who are in panic.  I hope the people in my home country (Korea), in Canada, and across the world become people who live with confidence and hope.  I believe this ordeal will be overcome in that hope.  

 


Pets

My Pet Dog

Author: Binh H.
Level: 4
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: Jaromir Chalabala / 123RF Stock Photo

Dog is lying on back on the bed - selective focus

My dog's name is Lucky. He is intelligent. He has brown fur, blue eyes, four white feet and big ears. Lucky is friendly. He is 7 years old. He is an adult dog in good health. When it snows in the winter, he loves to jump in it. He has dug a lot of holes in my backyard! When my friends come over, he wags his tail happily and in a friendly manner because he is excited to see them.

 


Recipes

Saiqa's Egg Snow Dessert

Author: Saiqa N.
Level: 7
Instructor: Natalie R.
Photo Credit: rakratchada / 123RF Stock Photo

Caramel custard, Custard pudding

When I was a kid in Pakistan, I loved this dessert. I always wanted to eat this dessert. It is a kind of custard that has a light yellow bottom and white layer on top just like snow. This is why we call it Egg snow dessert.

Everybody likes dairy in my family and we also like sweet things so this dessert is perfect. With just four essential ingredients, eggs, milk, sugar and cardamom seeds we can make this dessert. Sometimes, I use a little whipping cream to make it a little more delicious! If you want to add a garnish, you can use some chopped nuts. I’ve made this dessert so many times and we all love it.

Here is a list of the ingredients:

  • 2 litres of homo milk
  • ½ cup of whipping cream
  • 2 cups of white sugar (more or less depending on taste)
  • 6 eggs - separated ( 6 yolks in one bowl, 6 egg whites in another.)
  • 5-7 cardamom seeds

Directions:

In a non-stick pot pour the milk in and boil it on high.

When it boils, add cardamom seeds. Turn the heat down to medium/low and stir constantly with a flat spatula to make sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom.

Quickly whip the egg whites in a separate boil.

When the milk boils down to about 1 ½ litres, add the whipped egg whites. Layer it on top of the hot milk. The egg whites should cook slowly and look like snow. Then, use a spatula to remove the layer of egg white and put it on a separate plate for later. This is your snow for later.

Add the cream to the milk. Stir it in.

Now beat the yolks with a whisk until just mixed together then add it to the milk. Stir constantly. It will become thick like a custard. Now, add the sugar. Stir quickly because sometimes it can stick to the bottom of the pot so be careful. This is why we always use a non-stick pot.

Taste the custard and add more sugar if you like.

Put the pot into some cold water to cool the bottom. Pour the custard into a serving bowl. A glass bowl makes it look beautiful. Then take the white snow and carefully layer it on top of the custard with a straight-edged spatula.
To garnish, sprinkle with sliced, blanched nuts if desired. Almonds are my favorite and I sometimes take off skins before. You can also try cashews if you like.

Enjoy this dessert with your whole family. The kids will especially love the layers of colors, the look of snow and the delicious taste of sugar!

 


Stir Fry Noodles Recipe

Author: Furong Z.
Level: 6
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: mackoflower / 123RF Stock Photo

Delicious chinese food, chicken Lo Mein stir fry

Today I am going to talk about a noodle recipe that I cook once a week. It is also my son’s favourite.

Ingredients:

  • Japanese Udon noodles 200g
  • Chinese cabbages 4 pieces leaves
  • Pork or beef 50g
  • Eggs 2
  • Canola oil 3 tablespoons
  • Fresh garlic 2 cloves
  • Fresh ginger 2 slices
  • Soy sauce 1 tablespoon
  • Oyster sauce 1 tablespoon
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper pinch

 Preparation:

  1. Boil Japanese Udon noodles for 2 minutes and drain.
  2. Put eggs in a bowl, stir into liquid form, and stir fry.
  3. Cut Chinese cabbage and meat into strips.
  4. Chop fresh garlic into small pieces.

Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan and add canola oil, garlic and ginger. When the smell becomes strong, add pork and soy sauce and stir fry for one minute.
  2. Add Chinese cabbage into the pan and stir fry for 3 minutes.
  3. Add noodles, eggs, oyster sauce, salt and black pepper and stir fry for 2 more minutes.

Now you can enjoy your delicious stir fry noodles!

 


Seasonal

Surviving Canadian Winters

Author: Tetiana S.
Level: 7
Instructor name: Jacqueline H.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Canadian winter weather poses a number of challenges for newcomers COMING from tropical climates.

First of all newcomers who come to Canada from tropical climates must RESEARCH about Canadian winters from THE internet or FROM FELLOW CANADIANS. Canadian winters ARE frosty COLD and windy with LOTS OF snow and temperatures GOING WELL-below freezing. Winters in Canada LAST ABOUT six months IN a year. All people who come to Canada from tropical climates must be educated about ASPECTS OF WINTER safety and staying warm. More Canadian stores have big winter sales on clothing for THE WHOLE family FOR THE ENTIRE winter season. Newcomers must wear winter snowsuits with mittens, hats, scarves and winter boots. Winters in Canada come with POOR driving conditions FOR MOST CANADIANS TO BEAR, with SO MUCH more snow and rain. Newcomers from tropical climateS must stay safe ON the roads in the winter. More information CAN BE OBTAINED about GENERAL road conditions BY listening TO THE CAR radio and looking ST THE forecast before HEADING OUT TO drive. Canadian winter GUIDES have some important tips to keep you safe and sound on the roads FOR THE ENTIRE winter season. EVERYONE SHOULD clear ALL THE snow and ice from their vehicles, slow down, leave more space between cars, learn to break WITH the emergency BRAKE, avoid skidding, keep things smooth, be visible TO OTHER VEHICLES, keep your gas tanks full, have your car winter ready, AND keep a car winter kit.

Conclusion, newcomers must be prepared to ENDURE the LONG, COLD Canadian winters.  IN CONCLUSION, we have ALL THE ADDITIONAL information NEEDED about TYPICAL CANADIAN WINTERS from other people and social media.

 


Travel

Crimea

Author: Vitalli T.
Level: 7
Instructor: Nodira I.
Photo Credit: vvicca / 123RF Stock Photo

Bakhchysarai, Crimea - June 9, 2016: The architecture of the Crimean Tatar Khans Palace.

Crimea is known for its resorts, but there are also many attractions that I plan to visit on my next vacation. I’ll tell you about them now.

The first attraction I am going to visit is the Khan's Palace in Bakhchisarai. The Khan's Palace was the home of a large Khan's family, the concentration of state power, and the threshold of justice. It was the place where decisions were made that affected the fate of all of the Eastern Europe. For two and a half centuries, representatives of the Khan dynasty Herai were born, raised, lived, ruled and died there. The architectural style of the palace continues the traditions of the Ottoman architecture of the 16th – 17th centuries. The main architectural idea is the embodiment of a garden of paradise on earth. Hence, “Bakhchisaray” is translated from the Crimean Tatar language as “palace-garden”. Inside the palace there are many courtyards with trees, flowers and fountains. The buildings are decorated with paintings, and the windows are with openwork lattices.

The next site I would like to visit is Cape Fiolent - an unusually beautiful and amazing place in the city of Sevastopol. A unique panorama opens from the shore: fancy rocks, a vast sea and monastery buildings. Not far from the coast rises the dark St. George Rock - a surface rock in the form of a small island.

Then, I want to stay at Cape Tarkhankut for a couple of days. This is the westernmost point of the Crimean Peninsula. Remoteness from large cities and not too well-developed transport infrastructure protect the cape from overly active development and the incredible sight of these places mesmerizes people with their picturesque, primitive, and wild beauty. This place is very different from the surrounding steppes; once you come here, you feel like being in a different, fairy-tale world. Prehistoric natural forces formed this coast and hone it from year to year, creating bizarre figures from the rocks, the extraordinary beauty of the bay and grottoes.

I can write a lot about the Crimean Peninsula, but in order to truly appreciate its beauty, you must certainly see it with your own eyes! For each, it will open in its own way and everyone will find there something for himself!

 


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