Thursday, June 28, 2012

When I sit down to write these posts it's usually well after midnight,  It is at this time that words easily travel from my heart.  My fingertips dance across the keys as they work to keep up with the thoughts in my head.

But tonight the words remain trapped in my head.  My heart aches with emotion but is too far out of reach from reality.  My fingers, they stumble as I type, re-typed, then erase.

The end!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to apply for SSHRC

** HELLO:  If you are here because you were at the University of Regina SSHRC information session then WELCOME.  The information here will be a repeat but the helpful links to the SSHRC videos on YouTube will be of benefit.  You can find those down below.

Part 4:  This post will detail what the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship is, who is eligible, the evaluation criteria, and how to put together a successful 2-page proposal (also referred to as the Program of Study) -- You may wish to skip this post if it doesn't apply to you!



The Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship Master's Scholarship (that's a mouthful) funding opportunity offers one-time, non-renewable, 12-month awards, valued at $17,500 (this funding is tax-free).

If you win the SSHRC your university may automatically award you an internal scholarship.  I was surprised to find out I'd get an additional $5000 at the beginning of my study and $6000 or $5500 upon completion of the scholarship.


To qualify for this funding, you must:
a) be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
b) be applying for support to pursue your first graduate degree
c) have achieved a first-class average, as determined by your university (personal note: don't let this deter you from applying since the grades are only relative to the applicants at any given year.)
d) not have already received an award for master's-level study from SSHRC, NSERC or CIHR


Academic Excellence: weighting 60%
Research Potential: weighting 30%
Communication Skills: weighting 10%

You may find a more detailed description of the evaluation process at this source.

If you accept this award there are restrictions on the amount of hours you can work in the year you hold this scholarship.  This makes sense since your new job is STUDENT.  You are essentially getting paid to go to school.

HOW to apply (the process)

There are 2 ways you can apply for this scholarship: through the university or independently.  If you are already currently enrolled in a university (even if you haven't taken classes) you MUST apply through your university.

The application package consists of 2 parts:  first, you have to complete an on-line form.  This online form is a little difficult to navigate so don't leave it to the last minute (like me!).  Second, you have to submit a paper copy of the application that you filled out online.  Included in this paper copy is 2 reference letters (signed and sealed) and your program of study.  Your department head will also have to write a letter.

Once you've completed the application the university will evaluate applications.  The applicants will be separated into 3 piles: A-list applicants (which are recommended for awards); B-list applicants (which are not recommended); and a list of alternative applicants.  (note: the reason there is an alternative pile is b/c once your application is forwarded to Ottawa the panel there may not agree with the university's selection.  Or sometimes someone will be offered the scholarship and have to turn it down due to not being able to follow the scholarship guidelines upon acceptance of this award)

Each university across Canada is allotted a certain number of applications they may forward to enter the National competition in Ottawa.  Your university will know this number.

Before you start, familiarize yourself with this application process here!

HOW to write a successful 2 page Program of Study

1.  Attend the SSHRC information session at your university

2.  Watch these videos on youtube:  Video 1, Video 2, Video 3 (I stumbled across these videos AFTER I submitted my application.  They are really helpful.)

3.  Follow the instructions for the Program of Study (including margin and font size -- applications have been thrown out if they guidelines are not adhered to)

4.  In your program of study you need to convince the judges that you are the BEST person to be doing this research.  Some good advice that I got was:  WHY ME, WHY NOW, WHY THIS?  In other words, why should I be chosen, why is this research important now and why is the proposed research important (what contribution will it make?).  Keep this in mind when you're writing your program of study.

5.  Talk with other SSHRC recipients to get their story.  They will have a lot of suggestions.  You can ask a lot of questions.  Your university will have a record of previous SSHRC winners.  Don't be shy to approach them (I wasn't!)

6.  Make your language accessible to EVERYONE.  It should be academic but not specialized (so only people in your field of study will understand).

7.  After you write your first draft, edit it.  Then, edit it again, and again, and again.  THEN you can show it to others.  Send a copy to your friends, family, co-workers, supervisor, writing center.  Ask these people to be honest and give you constructive feedback.  (personal note:  don't let other people decide what should go in your 2-page program of study.  This is your work, not theirs, so even though they offer suggestions it's up to you to decide if you want to take their advice.  In my case, the advice from one professor to another was at times contradictory).

8.  Make sure your references follow APA style to a T.  If you are not sure ask someone in your department to double check it.

9.  DON'T GIVE UP!  You will receive feedback that may send you back to the drawing board.  Any good researcher will take this into consideration and make the appropriate changes.  This is a long personal process (it was for me anyways -- I'm kind of terrified to write my thesis).

10.  If you've read this far congrats.  If you are working on your Program of Study and want to ask me a specific question please send me an email at  It will arrive in my junk mail and since I don't check it I just ask that you send me a heads up by commenting on this post.  If you have any questions, no matter how small, I'd be happy to lend a hand.


Let's play a little game.

It's called finish the sentence:

Maybe I should... do something productive this summer
I love... the feeling you get after you work so hard to achieve something
People would say that I'm... ______________ (fill in the blank, my lovely readers!)
I don't understand... how my husband can be so happy all the freaking time
When I wake up in the morning... I say "oh shit, I've got to leave for work in 10 minutes"
I lost... the desire to lead a stable life when I stepped on the airplane to Korea
Life is full of... adventure
My past is full of... amazing moments
I get annoyed when... people constantly complain
Parties are... so much better if you're drunk!
I wish I had more... time
Tomorrow I'm going... to go for a jog
I have low tolerance for... people who stereotype
I'm totally afraid of... letting go
I wonder why... Koreans believe in fan death
Never in my life have I... made a plan and stuck to it
Highschool was... interesting...
When I'm nervous... I tell everyone
Take my advice:  leave your boyfriend RIGHT NOW!  Look in the mirror and tell yourself you deserve better and then believe what you say.
Making my bed... is something I don't really do unless I have guests over
I'm almost always... giving people the benefit of the doubt but also I'm never afraid to call people out on their bullshit
I'm addicted to... checking blogs and facebook.  It's bad....I better stop....tomorrow!
I want someone to... tell me what I should do for a living ;)'re it!

Thanks Jolene ;)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sitting in the discomfort

Hair straightened, make-up applied, high heels donned, I was ready.  

I set out last week on a mission to find a dress: first, to reward myself for winning the SSHRC scholarship; second, to attend an important meeting.

Last night I attended that important meeting.

As I sat around a group of distinguished individuals I couldn't help but feel an array of emotions flood my body.  "I know how hard you've worked.  You are among the best of the best.  You should be very proud of yourselves.  The university is very proud of you"  The words echoed in the space between my ears.  She was talking to us, to me.  

I felt proud to be sitting in the university president's residence.  I was most surprised by how her personable demeanour yet command for attention put me at ease.  Now that's a lady I want to be like, I thought to myself.  She must lead an interesting life!

As I talked with others about my adventures abroad, about how my husband and I couldn't speak the same language when we first met, I couldn't help but feel I too have been blessed with such an amazing life.  And there is so much more I feel I NEED to do.

I want to write.  I want to get fit.  I want to learn a language.  I want to publish in scholarly journals.  I want to travel. 

There are so many things I want to do.  And there is absolutely NOTHING that says I cannot accomplish these goals.  But when I return home from a day at work I look only at the big picture.  And it's overwhelming.  I get scared.  I do nothing because negative self talk fills the spaces between my ears "you're not smart enough, brave enough, strong enough, pretty enough..."  So I sit and think when I should be doing something else even though I know this is counterproductive.

If this scholarship is any indication of how powerful I can be when personal perseverance and self belief align, then it should be a testament to all things great in my life.

But I'm just a girl.  Riddled with self-doubt and blinded with shaky confidence.  Smart enough to know better yet not motivated enough to do anything about it. 

So in the light of one of my biggest successes in my life, I sat around the room beaming with pride yet uncomfortable with my disposition. 

It is my personal philosophy that learning and personal growth occur best in these moments of uncomfortableness.  It's why I'm so free to put myself out there to be judged by others.  I'm ready to sit in the discomfort. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No wonder our food bill is so much!

Remember when I spent $1030 on food last month?  Mr. Husband has a happy appetite and can pack away a lot for being such a small guy.

Here's what he takes to work on an average day:





It's so much he needs a heavy duty lunch bag.  And apparently it's so heavy that the picture won't stay straight.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I found the dress

The mad dash to get a dress is OVER!  I'm excited because I found an affordable dress that fits like a glove.  The other one that many people suggested I buy was just too damn expensive and I didn't feel 100% comfortable in it.  The colour was awesome but the cut wasn't exactly flattering in the stomach area.  You can check that dress out here.

I almost resorted to pants and a dress shirt because I don't really think I look good in dresses.  And I HATE clothes shopping.  I'm thankful my friend Tanya made me try on this dress which would have just sat on the rack had I gone shopping myself.

Here it is:

It was $40 for the dress and $36 for the cardigan.  Way better than the +$200 that I almost spent.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drawing 101

I loved those step-by-step drawing books when I was little.  

So this literally had me laughing out loud for longer than I'd like to admit:

The man who never stopped smiling ;)

See this guy:

Let's call him Gym Guy. 

His real name is Sung Hyun, but to my father he's Guy Guy.  He was made in Korea, but lives in Canada.  Mother-tongue Korean, current spoken language English.

When I first started dating Gym Guy he didn't tell me what he did for a living.  He was a tradesman --  a fabricator, a welder, a cutter.....

Well we didn't really know, SEE!

Then I married Gym Guy.  I got a job offer at a law firm in Korea the same day he got his Canadian visa.  We came to Canada.

Within a month, he got a manual labour job, that paid $18 an hour, shoveling metal in the middle of winter.  He did this for 6 months.  He hated it.  He quit, rented a booth at a local community college and practiced to get his Canadian welding certificate.  Because of the language barrier he knew he couldn't pass the written journeyman welding test.  So he went one step higher and challenged the specialized pipe welding test because there was no written component, only practical.

At the time, the failure rate for this specialized welding test was 80%.

He passed, the first time.

He returned home from the test with his newly acquired pocket-sized welding certificate.  This certificate became the golden ticket for any job he wanted. 

Now my husband makes fish skin welds for a living. 

I need to stop, take a step back and think of how far he's come.  Because in the beginning we were just two people who because of culture, family and language differences didn't think it would even be possible to carve out a life together.

And now, we're doing exactly that.

I love you Gym Guy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The History of Sexuality

As I sat in my office contemplating life (I seem to be doing too much of that lately), the books on the shelf mockingly gazed back at me.

This one caught my eye: 

An excerpt (with my favourite parts underlined):

At the beginning of the seventeenth century a certain frankness was still common, it would seem.  Sexual practices had little need of secrecy; words were said without undue reticence, and things were done without too much concealment...It was a time of direct gestures, shameless discourse, and open transgressions, when anatomies were show and intermingled at was a period when bodies "made a display of themselves".  But twilight soon fell upon this bright day, followed by the monotonous night of the Victorian bourgeoisie.  Sexuality was carefully confined; it moved into the home.  The conjugal family took custody of it and absorbed it into the serious function of reproduction.  On the subject of sex, silence became the rule.  The legitimate and procreative couple laid down the law.  The couple imposed itself as model, enforced the norm, safeguarded the truth, and reserved the right to speak while retraining the principle of secrecy.

Brilliant Foucault, brilliant!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lessons from a Korean mother-in-law (part 6)

This is a post, in a series, dedicated to a mother-in-law that I deeply love and dearly miss.  All posts in this series are true events that happened to me.


My bright pink bra hung on a nail used to anchor a calendar into the wall in my mother-in-law's living room.  Right next to it, my underwear was delicately draped over the edge of the tall dark wardrobe that housed mom's portable bed.  Each personal garment placed around the tiny room with such precision that they could have passed for decorations at Christmas time.

Except the decorations were my bra and underwear, not tinsel and stockings.

If mom is air-drying my undergarments, then why isn't she using the drying rack? I thought to myself.

Sitting on the floor eating dinner that night Sung Hyun looked up at the bra on the wall.  "Mom, did you try on Jennifer's bra?" he asked aloud.


Glancing up from my bowl of rice I paused.

Mom grinned, put down her chopsticks and without hesitation placed both hands on her chest.  As she cupped her hands away from her chest, as if to demonstrated my bra on her body, she replied "WOOOOOOW, SO BIG!"

She smiled at me and Sung Hyun laughed.

"MOM!" I yelled.

Part 3: SSHRC Scholarship Obstacles

I thought I'd post a video explaining the obstacles I faced when apply for the SSHRC scholarship.  It's a long one: 

Of course it's cluttered

Sorry, I should have been more clear. 

In attempting to make the pictures on the wall look like they are at different heights I placed one on a paper towel roll and one on a toilet paper roll.  And the living room vase is on the buffet table sitting on top of a box of pop.  That was to show that I wanted a taller vase.

So just imagine 2 Chinese wall hangings and a vase in the corner.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Unfinished and Dishonest

Okay my living room / dining room / kitchen is NOT complete.  I have a way with starting projects, nearing completion and throwing in the towel.

So close yet still so far away.

This buffet table is a good example.  It was the last thing to arrive in the room and it's been untouched since then.  

I absolutely love it.  It tucks in nicely behind the chair, next to the mirror.

But it needs something more.  I just don't know what exactly.

First we started with 2 brown floating selves that would sit directly above it.  But it was 'too heavy' (figuratively speaking).

So then I though a silver dish with living room accents would help, but I'm not exactly sold.

Then I thought these Chinese art pieces (that I actually purchased in China) would fit nicely.  They have gold and silver in them which fits nicely with the big purple/gold/silver abstract painting on the same wall.

If I position one higher than the other they might work.  And I definitely need some tall vase or something in the corner.  What do you think?

From afar

Look at all my worldly goodies just sitting in the basement waiting to be displayed:

Oh, and my mom though that maybe I was being a bit misleading about the state of my messiness upstairs in my previous post.  From the picture it didn't really look that bad.  My mom knows just how messy I can get so to be more accurate it's only fair I show you the current state of our basement: 


Money Dress

Apparently it's easy for me to spend A LOT of money on food but I find it quite difficult to spend money on myself for other things.  I don't pay a lot for haircuts.  I don't spend a lot of money on clothes or shoes.  And I don't wear/buy make up or pamper myself with salon services.

Subsequently this lifestyle was good for my bank account but bad for my self esteem.

I grew up with a family who lived a modest life.  I didn't see my mom spend a lot of money on things for herself.  She prided herself on being able to find deals at discount stores.  Why spend $40 on a white shirt from Gap (that doesn't even say gap on the outside) when you can buy the same one at Walmart for $10. 

These tendencies have carried over into my adult life.  Even though I lean more towards the nurture side in the nature vs. nurture debate, I don't want to place blame on my family for fostering these ideas. 

Now that I'm an adult I need to re-learn.  I NEED to teach myself that it's okay to pamper myself.  I NEED to not feel guilty for doing things for myself.

Take this past weekend for example:  I went shopping for an dress for a upcoming formal dinner event with the university president.  

I found a cute little blue dress with a black sweater that would look great with heels. 

Dress: $159, Sweater: $59

But I just couldn't justify the price so back on the rack it went.

Foolish or not?

Friday, June 08, 2012

The hell with that.

Downstairs -- The showroom.

Upstairs -- The neglected half.

I figured I would wait until my office was tidy, my hospital bed corners crisp, my toilet scrubbed, and my clothes put away before I showed you the upstairs.

But I'm still waiting for the magic fairy to make all that possible.

The hell with that!  

No sense pretending I'm neat and tidy when I'm really just disorganized and sloppy.

'Tis the real deal people.  Judge for yourselves: 

The hallway

  The bedroom

The bathroom

 The office

The spare bedroom

Monday, June 04, 2012

Ask US anything! Part II

Remember when I interviewed Sung Hyun with YOUR questions?  

Well a lot has happened since then.  Namely, Sung Hyun has been working steadily, I'm slowly chipping away at grad school and WE MOVED OUT OF OUR PARENT'S BASEMENT!!!!  Yahhh...

So it's time for another round of ask US anything.  Put your questions in the comments section and we'll post our video online next week.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

SSHRC Scholarship Thank You

In December 2011, I found out my application for the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship made it past the internal review board at my local university and was being forwarded to enter the National competition.  In that same letter from the university they notified me that I would find out the results in April or May.

April came and went and so did most of May.  I was bummed and the wait was difficult.   

Then my dad called me mid-afternoon on Wednesday, May 30th to tell me I got mail.  When I asked him what it was, he replied, "it's the one".

I had to teach in 15 minutes and I didn't want to blow off my lesson but I badly wanted to run over to my parents to pick up the letter.  

But I waited.....

...until my lesson was finished, until Sung Hyun came home from work, and until we picked up something for supper.

Then, I anxiously opened it in my parent's kitchen.  

And I found out I won.

It wouldn't be right to solely accept this scholarship without giving due thanks to those people involved in the entire process.  ALL of you, no matter how small, made a difference.  I want to take the time to acknowledge you now.

Krista (friend and fellow SSHRC recipient):  You were the one who told me about this scholarship.  You were the one who sat with me several times to talk about what was important to me.  You were the one who willingly read and re-read my proposal over and over.  Each time it got better and I have you to thank for pushing me to challenge myself.  I kept saying "If I get the SSHRC then..." and you always said "When you get the SSHRC then...".  You believed in me from the start!  Thank you.

Mom:  Thanks for reading over ALL drafts of my proposal and ensuring me what I wrote was great.  Every time I updated it, you gladly checked it again.  You knew I wouldn't be happy not putting in the best effort so thanks for holding my hand along the way.  And mom and dad, thanks for not getting mad when I took over your kitchen.  Sorry I was so difficult to live with at that time. 

Sung Hyun (my lover!):  I was grumpy.  I was tired.  But you understood that I was working hard.  Thanks for supporting me and telling me everything would be okay.  Thanks for asking me everyday in the month of May if I got the letter.  I know you were anxious because I was anxious.  

Lori & Ruth (former professor now friend and ESL supervisor):  Thanks for writing my reference letters.  You mush have said some powerful things in order to convince those big wigs in Ottawa to give me this award.

Ray (former high school classmate):  Thanks for sending copies of previous successful SSHRC applications to use as a reference.

Holly (SSHRC recipient):  Thanks for meeting with me over tea to talk about how to put together a good application package.

Heather #1 (fellow SSHRC recipient):  Thanks for sitting down with me and telling me to believe in myself.  You told me to give myself some credit for writing the curriculum for the ESL department and to put that in my list of publications.  Thanks for answering all my questions honestly.

Maria (SSHRC applicant and lover of Korea):  Thanks for offering to read my SSHRC proposal and telling me where it was weak.  I changed a lot after your feedback.

Uncle Howard, Auntie Heather, Kristin, Ellen, Tanya, Marion, Heather #2, Simone, Cheryl (family, friends, co-workers):  Thanks for reading my proposal and wishing me luck.  I needed that.

Chelsey (fellow SSHRC recipient):  Thanks for encouraging me while I waited.  You kept saying "don't worry, I'm sure you got it!".  

Andy Stubbs (professor at the university writing centre):  Thanks for directing my research interests and introducing me to Canadian studies.  You also professionally edited my 2 page proposal 3 different times.  I promised you a beer if my application was successful.

Jennifer Tupper (Dean of Education):  Thanks for sitting down with me in person and going over my first draft word for word.  That meant a lot from someone of your stature.

Andrea, Cindy, Ken (university professors and possible thesis advisers):  Thanks for inviting me into your office to look at my 2 page proposal and offer your expertise.

Jolene & blog commenters:  for sending positive vibes and writing nice comments on my blog.  Your words of kindness mean a lot to me.




What's next?  

I've learned a lot by going through this process and by talking to people.  In the next few weeks I want to share more information about what this award means to me and about the journey I took to get here.  I almost quit more than once.  I'd like to write about my struggles with believing in myself and my perseverance through this journey.  This up-coming post can apply to you if you are facing a difficult situation, whatever that may be.  

I'd also like to pass on my advice about how to apply for this scholarship so other Canadians can put together successful applications.  This is a National award so anyone attending a Canadian university can apply.  I learned a lot from fellow SSHRC recipients so I'd like to pay that forward and pass on some helpful tips that made my application stronger.  If I can help one person then I can make a difference!

Lessons from a Korean mother-in-law (part 5)

This is a post, in a series, dedicated to a mother-in-law that I deeply love and dearly miss.  All posts in this series are true events that happened to me.


When Sung Hyun's mom patted my bum the first time I met her in the doorway of her house, I knew everything would be all right.

I mean this lady was like 70 years old and ran from the living room to the door to make sure she patted my bum.  It was as though she had practiced.

I was wearing makeup and nice clothes, trying to be someone I wasn't.  I sat down on the floor on one side of the room, the rest of his family on the other.  There were about 15 family members in total.

I had practiced a self-introducation with a Korean co-worker.  I had it memorized.

"Hello, my name is Jennifer.  I'm an English teacher at LCI Kids Club.  I teach children.  I like Korea.  I am from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  I have lived in Korea for 1 year.  Nice to meet you."

And then the questions came, one after another.  Sung Hyun was the translator.  Except he didn't speak English very well so the conversation with his family was slow and awkward.  And I was sweating.  Why is this house so damn hot? I thought.

I couldn't concentrate.  My legs took turns falling asleep.  I didn't anticipate sitting on the floor.  I wanted to leave because it was hard to make a good first impression when beads of sweat were rolling down my forehead.

But Sung Hyun's mom prepared food so it would be rude to leave without eating.

"CHICKEN FEET!  We're having chicken feet for supper? And raw clams?  Is the chicken even cooked? You can still see the rubbery bumpy skin.  And the toenails!  Sung Hyun never told me what we we were having this for supper.  Is this a joke?  How do you even eat chicken feet? Are they testing me?" the questions raced through my mind.

When Sung Hyun's mom cut through the cartilage of the chicken foot to get to the meat, my heart beat a little faster knowing in just a moment I'd be eating chicken feet for the first time in my life.  I had known enough about Korean culture at this time to know it was rude to turn down food that was offered to you.

With a morsel of meat sandwiched between two chopsticks, she reached across the table and motioned for me to open my mouth.  I was being spoon-fed chicken feet by a lady I had just met.  I smiled and chewed -- crunch, crunch!  Then swallowed.  And before I had time to do anything else she was feeding me raw clams.  They were slimy, not crunchy.  With a single set of chopsticks Sung Hyun's mom would eat one and then feed one to me.  One for her.  One for me.  I wanted Sung Hyun to say something but he acted like this was normal.  I could barely stomach the food but I knew it would be rude to say I didn't like it.  So after I swallowed the next crunchy chicken foot, I patted my stomach and said the only Korean thing that I thought would help me get out of the situation.

"I'm full!", I lied.


This week my eats weren't super healthy.  I didn't snap very many pictures of them either.  But I've figured out why we spent so much on food.  Last month (May, 2012) we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary and went to an expensive restaurant.  We had a house warming party and provided endless food.  We had a couple of people over for dinner during the week.  And, as my friend pointed out, I spend too much on meat and fruit that is not in season.  We buy exotic fruit and it's expensive.  We buy fresh meat, not previously frozen.

I think if I make some changes to the meat and fruit we'll be able to automatically knock off $200 without much thinking.  Also, I'm going to start using coupons at restaurants so we can save that way too.  

This was dinner Friday night:

Chicken and spicy crab sushi

Homemade fish with salad and fruit for lunch

Chicken and beef bulgogi (made by my lover!)

What did you eat this week?  Was it healthy?

Friday, June 01, 2012

SSHRC Scholarship Results

Good or bad, I promised I'd share the results:

Today afterwork

I came home to my husband playing video games on the couch.

With cucumber on his face:

Hello Mr. Food Budget...

...Yah, I'm talking to YOU!

YOU sneaky little bugger you.  

Want to know how much you cost me in the month of May?

Well, I kept track and crunched the numbers.

It's not pretty.

It's kind of scary actually.

Grocery bill = $784

Dinning out bill = $247

I had NO idea we were spending so much money on FOOD for TWO people.  Our total bill for the month of May was $1031. 

This will NOT happen again.  Mark my words!!!