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

Celebration

Christmas Holiday

Author: Yevhenii D.
Level: 3
Instructor: Rachel A.
Photo Credit: sarsmis / 123RF Stock Photo

pile of boxes wrapped in christmas paper and ribbons - pine cones visible and lights in background

This is my second Christma in Canada. In Ukraine Christmas is a little different because it is not on December 25th. We usually celebrate Christmas on January 7th after the New Year. I will be working on Christmas Day January 7th next year because it will be on Friday, my days off are Wednesday and Thursday.

On Christmas day in Ukraine we usually have a day off and we celebrate with friends and family. We decorate a Christmas tree in our home. We cook a lot of different food and give gifts to children. The most popular food is pork.

 


Ukrainian and Canadian Festivals

Author: Yuliia D.
Level: 6
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: karenr / 123RF Stock Photo

calendar with plastic yellow and red leaves on top - Autumn concept

There are 3 main festivals that happen in the Fall in Saskatchewan . Whereas, in Ukraine, there are no major celebrations or events during this time. Our version of Hallowe’en is in May or January. In Canada, we have Thanksgiving. However, we have a harvest festival in August, in Ukraine. In Canada we have Remembrance Day. We also celebrate this day in Ukraine, on May 9th. I am going compare the differences and similarities of these three events.

Our version of Hallowe’en happens on January 6th.

After Christmas until the new year we have a week of different celebrations every day . People dress up and walk from house to house with a different song each day. After the singing the owner of the house gives some goodies (baking, cooked meat, candy or money)to the singers. song is about wishing for health and a good harvest and luck for the next year.

Our version of Remembrance Day happens on the Sunday after Easter. All of the menu that we had for Easter dinner, we prepare again and bring everything to the cemetery. Actually, beside the cemetery, we have a place with long tables and benches. Everyone puts their food on the table and shares and has a meal with all the people who come to remember their relatives. On this day you can meet people who have gone away to other countries or the other side of Ukraine. Also, before this community dinner, the relatives talk near the grave about them and with them and wait for the kids who are walking to collect the candy.

Our version of Thanksgiving happens in the middle of August. The harvest festival is celebrated at every school. The kids bring some special grown vegetables and fruits from their garden for the school exhibition. Farmers celebrate their exhibition with each other, and a big community dinner happens at the end of the day. In each town there is a community celebration like a public dance, activities and they sell snacks and food.

Our celebrations in Ukraine are very special, but the Canadian ones are enjoyable too.

 


Countries

Comparing countries: Canada, Australia, Korea, Japan

Author: Myeongwook J.
Level: 7
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: viperagp / 123RF Stock Photo

World map - magnifying glass and focus on Canada

First of all, we can find a lot of common features between Canada and Australia. These countries are the Commonwealth countries and they embrace many foreign emigrants since they want much more labour force. Thanks to the diversity of races, you can enjoy any kind of foods which exist on earth in their country. Of course their official language is English.

But for Korea and Japan, these countries have quite a long history with their own race. So usually they were not mixed up with other races. And they created their own traditional foods. Especially Korean foods are hot and spicy and Japanese foods are sweet and salty. And lastly, they use their own language.

 


COVID-19

Lessons from a Pandemic

Author: Sanja S.
Level: 4
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: rido / 123RF Stock Photo

Elder woman and adult daughter walking outdoors - daughter holding mother's arm. Both wearing masks

I learned a lot about the pandemic. After studying medicine, it may have interested me a little more. The pandemic changed our lives completely. Everything became different. The view of life is different. Everything has changed. I want the old to come back. I hope it will be soon.

 

 

 


My Trip to China During Pandemic

Author: Yuan S.
Level: 7
Instructor: Olga P.
Photo Credit: twinsterphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

asian man in masking standing in front of airport flight board

On 28th Aug., I started my trip that is from Canada to China. Most people suggested me to cancel this trip because I will get many troubles for COVID-19. I don't think so, so I decided to go.

First day, I arrived in the airport of Vancouver,BC in the morning. My friend picked me up and delivered to the hotel.
After lunch, I went to clinic to test for COVID-19. All were smooth, I backed to hotel around 3:00pm.

On 29th Aug, I got my result at noon. It's negative that means I can get on the plane. At the same time, I applied for the health code with Chinese Embassy. After about 2 hours, I got it. But only 48 hours are valid.
I were happy because I think my decision was correct. It's not too difficult.

On 30th Aug, after lunch, I went to airport by Uber. About Uber, I tried several times in Vancouver, BC. It's cheap and simple. It's very good.

The time of my plane is 00:35 on 31st Aug. I have lots of time, so I looked around in the airport. On 8:00pm, I went to the desk and prepared to check in. When I got there, I were stressed, Lot people were waiting for check in. After 3 hours, I finished check in and passed the entry. The plane was postponed, the ground service informed of us to get on the plane on 00:45, when I passed the entrance, they need me show my health code again. At that time, I broke down because my health code was expired. The airline checked the history of my health code, they let me go because it's active when I checked in. At this moment, I hesitated.

The plane flew for 15 hours, it's reached in Shanghai, China. The government was very serious. They need us line up and test again for everyone. We totally spent 5 hours then we got to hotel. Our isolation began.
I Isolated 14 days in Shanghai. My result was good, so I can leave. When I got to my hometown, the city government still need us isolate another 14 days.
OMG..................................... Now I am isolating.......

 


Driving

My Experiences with Deer Collisions

Author: Tao G.
Level: 7
Instructor: Anna M.
Photo Credit: wollertz / 123RF Stock Photo

Evening time - car driving around bend in road - deer standing in opposite lane

As one of my characteristics, curiosity has always accompanied my life. Before moving to Canada, I had never seen a deer except in the zoo. It has been very exciting for me to see wild deer in Canada’s pure nature; this is an amazing feeling every time.

However, as great as it is to see wildlife, it is horrible to hit a deer on the road. Until I really experienced it, I could have never imagined that it could happen to me and the terrible feeling of the aftermath. Here is my story of two deer collisions.

One night in November 2019, I was driving to Saskatoon on highway 11. While I had only about 5 kilometres before arriving in the city, I decided to pass a semi truck that was in front of me. As soon as I changed lanes, I saw a deer lying in the middle of that lane. There were no seconds for me to respond and brake. So, I had to drive over it without any other option. I could hear the sound of its horn scratching on the bottom of my car chassis.

Fortunately, I was okay. However, as a consequence, my vehicle was marked Total Loss by SGI, the insurance company, even though it remained well driveable after this accident. Another very bad result from hitting the deer was that I had to rush out in minus 40-degree weather, and quickly buy a new car.

One year later, at night as well, I was slowly driving my new vehicle back home on a highway with a lot of bushes beside it. I had been keeping very vigilant of deer and moose after experiencing the first-time deer accident.

Suddenly, a large deer showed up, in front, on the road shoulder, then it just ran into me without any scruple while I was taking a sharp brake. Nevertheless, of how careful I had been, the deer collision happened again. Then I saw that the left rear mirror of my vehicle was gone because the deer hit it. I was so upset because I had been taking care of my new car very carefully. A couple of days later, I dropped off my car at a body shop. After it had been three weeks, I still wasn’t told when the repair would be done. I decided to write a complaint email and got it finished shortly.

Occasionally, my online English classes have touched on the topic of how to speak diplomatically; after that I reviewed that complaint email to the body shop, and found my writing had been too direct and rude. The letter was negative and did not use any softeners. I should improve on this in the future after learning about diplomatic language. My native language is completely different.

To conclude, I am grateful for our beautiful environment in Canada, in the meantime I am much more vigilant to wildlife on the road now. What I learned from these accidents is to avoid driving in the country at night as much possible as I can. Furthermore, I got a chance to practice complaint letter writing in real life for the first time. This makes me think of an old saying in China: “When you lose, you will get.” It sounds not too bad, EH!

 


Finance

Financial Planning for my Future

Author: Liudmyla D.
Level: 4
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: thecorgi / 123RF Stock Photo

man with notebook and calculator. pile of coins on table with plant growing from within. Financial planning concept

Last month I learned about the CPP, OAS, RESP, CESG’s, TFSA’s and RRSP’s. First t, I am going to talk about RESP’s and CESG’s. It is a Registered Education Saving Plan from the Federal government. I can invest money in my RESP and it can grow without taxes. Also, I can get a CESG. It is a Canada Education Savings Grant.


For example, if I contribute $ 2,500 per year I can get $500 for free for each child. Limit I can contribute is $50,000 per child per year. Moreover, I can open RESP for a child as soon as they are born.

Next, I am going to talk about RRSP’s and TFSA’s. An RRSP is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan. This plan can help me save for retirement and reduce income when I contribute money. There is no minimum and maximum age. I can receive RRSP money at the age 60 years old. A TFSA is a tax-free savings account. I can use money from TFSA any time, for any reason. For example, buy a house or travel somewhere. I can combine an RRSP and a TFSA to get their benefits. This is a way to save and cover any unexpected expenses. Each year the government sets a limit depending on how much

Lastly, I am going to talk about the CPP and OSA. CPP is the Canadian Pension Plan. You can get it when you are 60 years old or later. How much I will receive depends on how many years I have worked and my contribution. OAS is the Old Age Security pension. I must be a Canadian or legal worker in Canada at least 10 years from age 18. On the other hand, I can't get OAS when I live outside of Canada. If my income tax is higher than $79,054, I will pay taxes.

In conclusion, I would say it is a good idea to open some accounts such as the RESP for my kids and save money for their education. Also, it's good to open an RRSP as soon as possible and contribute money for me before I will retire. In fact, when I open a TFSA, I don't need to pay taxes. There is no limit contribution and I can continue to save money forever.

I am happy to there are good financial planning options in Canada!

 


General

My Goals for the New Year

Author: Nhung L.
Level: 6
Instructor: Rachel A.
Photo Credit: lodimup / 123RF Stock Photo

sign saying Open on brown door

I have been working very hard to create a small business in the city of Saskatoon in 2021. It has been a memorable year in my life. I made a huge change that I thought I could only make for the next two years.

This is very easy for people who speak English or were born here. It is easy for a lot of Vietnamese people who have been living in Canada for a long time but it is not easy for a newcomer like me since I have been in Canada for only 4 years because it is not long enough to learn a lot of things about the new culture.

In 2022, I will try to build my small business into a larger business. It will be a bigger business where I am not the only person working, it will be a place that has many highly qualified employees who will work for me to serve customers well.

I will use the money that I earn this year to rent a large store that looks more professional. I am planning to buy a small house in this city so that my two children can have more fun with the new space.

I also plan to take my two young children on a summer trip to a different city like Victoria in British Columbia. I like this warm city very much because the weather here is very similar to the weather in Vietnam in summer.

I've worked hard for the past year but haven't had a chance to have fun with my family. Therefore, I will take my two children to spend the night camping at several places in Saskatchewan on the weekend when I have no work schedule. At the end of next year, I plan to return to Vietnam to visit my family after living in Canada for 5 years.

I also plan to save a small amount of money to help poor people in Canada and Vietnam. All of the above is possible if I try hard enough by doing the right things and putting in a lot of effort by following my plan and fulfilling my goals in the next year!

 


Reflecting On The Year 2021

Author: Binh H.
Level: 4
Instructor: Rachel A.
Photo Credit: adamr / 123RF Stock Photo

2021 gold balloons on blue medical masks

This year was not easy for anyone!
Many countries still have COVID-19 and the new variant Omircon. We are lucky to be living in a small city, we do not have many cases of COVID-19.

During the summer time we had parents and friends from Winnipeg visit us, we went to Edmonton, bought food from T&T Market, bought clothes from the mall, and played games with our grandchildren inside the mall. After that we all went to eat at the Chinese restaurant before we went back home.

This year 2021 is a little calmer than 2020.
This year I completed a Health certificate. I am still thinking about owning a business, but there are many difficulties. However I wish every body in the world a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I wish you all happiness, peace and good luck.

 


Health

Health System in my country

Author: Xianjuan Y.
Level: 3
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: sezerozger / 123RF Stock Photo

cropped doctor in white coat standing in front of China flag

In China, if someone is sick, they can go straight to the hospital without appointment. The doctor will prescribe medicine according to the patient’s condition. Patients buy medicine directly at the hospital. If the patient need to have another special examination like CT or chest X-rays, he should make an appointment with his doctor.

 

 

 


Recipes

A Dish from My Home Country: Bulgogi

Author: Eunhee K.
Level: 7
Instructor: Nataliya B.
Photo Credit: voltan1 / 123RF Stock Photo

Bulgogi beef on bed of rice

Ingredients:

  • Thinly sliced beef 450g (1Lb)
  • Less than a half-carrot
  • Half of a mi-sized onion
  • 2 green onions
  • Half a cup of mushrooms (optional)

Sauce Ingredients: 

  • 7 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 5 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of Mirin (you can use white wine instead)
  • 4 tbsp of sugar
  • ⅓ of onion
  • A half of Asian pear
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Black pepper (to taste) 
  • Ground ginger (to taste) 
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil

Instruction:

  1. Slice bottom blade beef as thin as you can.
  2. Cut onions, green onions, carrots and mushrooms into small pieces. 
  3. Grind pear, garlic, ginger and onion.
  4. Put soy sauce, sugar, a little bit of black pepper, Mirin (cooking alcohol), water, and sesame oil into the big bowl.
  5. Mix sauce with the ground pear, garlic, ginger and onion.
  6. Put the sliced beef into the bowl, and mix well.
  7. Marinate for over 30 minutes.
  8. Put the marinated beef and some cut vegetables on the pan with a little bit of vegetable oil.
  9. Stir fry until the beef is done.
  10. Serve it on the plate. 
  11. You can enjoy it with rice as a side dish. 

 


Saskatchewan

Come and Visit Saskatchewan

Author: Guoyang W.
Level: 4
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: sprokop / Stock Photo

Bridge in Saskatchewan, illuminated at evening time

I can’t wait to discuss my two favorite cities in Saskatchewan. They are Regina and Saskatoon. First, I will talk about Regina. Regina is the capital city of Saskatchewan. There are many beautiful buildings in the city, especially in the Cathedral area, one of Regina’s oldest communities. Do you know this? The largest urban park of North America is in Regina. It is named Wascana Park. The Saskatchewan legislative building also is located in the park.

Now let me talk about Saskatoon. It is the largest city in the Saskatchewan. The numerous bridges is feature of Saskatoon. There are many breathtaking view around the city. There are some amazing running and bike trail along the river. Saskatoon has been growing at a rapid rate in the past few years. There are many theatres, art galleries and music venues in the city. I would like to recommend you to the Bess borough hotel. It is an iconic in the photos of Saskatoon. In addition, there are many restaurants and shopping in the downtown core.

I am looking forward to seeing you all in Saskatchewan.

 


How to Stay Warm in Saskatchewan Winters

Author: Iryna M.
Level: 4
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: derejeb / 123RF Stock Photo

Wascana lake in Regina, Saskatchewan beginning to freeze during the cold winter days in November

I know two options on how to fight the cold. First and the easiest is to drink something warm. If you don’t have any around you or any coffee stores, you can do some exercises. For example: 10 sits and 2 minutes of running in place. If you are still cold, do it one more time. These options help me to fight the cold.

 

 

 

 


Winter Weather

Author: Aneela C.
Level: 5
Instructor: Rachel A.
Photo Credit: pictureguy66 / 123RF Stock Photo

Sunset on Prairie Winter Saskatchewan Canada scenic

I live in Saskatchewan, Canada, my country is one of the coldest in the world. The winter season here is long and freezing cold. In the winter, there is a lot of snow and lots of wind. In this season, the weather drops to -40º C.  It is usually 4-6 months long, it starts snowing in October all the way until the end of March. Life is very hard during this season. In the province of Saskatchewan, the winter season is the same as Alberta and Manitoba, warmer than Quebec and colder than Ontario and British Colombia. In the winter, the day is very short and sunrise is usually at 8:30 a.m and sunset is at 5:00 p.m compared to the summer where the sun sets at 9:00 p.m.

In the winter I like to play with my children. For example, one activity my children and I do is making a snowman. Another activity we like to do is going sledding. My most favorite activity to do in the winter is snowball fights and my oldest son is the best out of my whole family. Inside my house during the winter, my children and I watch movies, drink hot cocoa, play board games such as Monopoly, and read books.

In the winter the trees look dead but in March the trees gain new leaves and look beautiful. In the winter the trees look dead but I like to see them when they are covered in frost and they look really beautiful. In March the trees start to grow leaves again and it is beautiful as well because it is a symbol of life and hope that summer will be coming soon.

 

 

 


Vacation

A Special Holiday

Author: Hai W.
Level: 4
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: maridav / 123RF Stock Photo

Business women standing on tarmac waiting for departure. Travel and trip concept. Female passenger looking through window with luggage. Sunset back to boarding class terminal. Airplane passenger early in the morning at the airport. Looking out the window. Woman sitting on the tarmac, waiting for flight. First class flight delay, sun holiday concept.

When the pandemic had not spread around the world, how beautiful everything was,I could plan my trips, without isolating after the trip. On my trip to Shenzhen, I flew from Toronto to Shenzhen. I like shopping in the mall very much. It is very busy in the Shenzhen mall. There are seven to eight floors in the shopping mall, each floor has different shops. I can go shopping there, which makes me very happy. After shopping, I went to a local restaurant with my friends. We ate delicious Chinese food. After dinner, we went to my friend’s house. My friend's house has a very elegant tea room. We like to have tea and chat together, which is a very nice thing to do. I went to this tea room on my last trip. I hope the pandemic will end soon. I miss my friends in China very much. We hope to go there next summer!

 

 

 


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